Survive a Tornado | How to Choose a Safe Room
Safe rooms are designed to stay anchored to the ground during a tornado. But maybe more importantly, a safe room is designed to protect its occupants from deadly debris being hurdled through the air by 200-mph winds. Should you install an above-ground safe room structure in your basement or bury one in your back yard? Find out which option is best for your home.
Safe Rooms Save Lives!
Not only will a safe room save your life, you may be eligible to receive a discount on your homeowners insurance. And some states offer a generous rebate for residents who choose to build one. Read on to find out which safe room is right for you.
Add a Safe Room When You Build Your House
Install an Above-Ground Shelter
Many manufacturers have engineers to help you though the process, and some may be able to recommend an installation contractor in your area. The unit shown here is made by Survive-a-Storm Shelters, and costs $3,695 (not including installation) at homedepot.com
Assemble an Above-Ground Safe Room
Have a Safe Room Shed Delivered
Bury a Safe Room in Your Backyard
If you have options for where to put the shelter on the property, bury it away from that 80-ft. oak tree or any other structures that may end up landing on top of the safe house. You will still survive, but may have to wait to be rescued. The shelter shown here is made by Life Pod and is available at homedepot.com. It costs between $4,000 and $8,000 depending on the model (not including installation).
Bury a Safe Room in Your House
Build Your Own
Stock the Shelter with Emergency Supplies
• Battery-powered or crank-operated flashlight to inspect your home or office after the tornado has passed, including spare batteries.
• Battery-powered or crank-operated radio to listen for emergency updates and news reports.
• First aid kit.
• Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves, and sturdy, thick-soled shoes. These will protect you from further injury by broken glass, exposed nails, or other objects.
• Whistle or air horn to notify rescuers in case you are trapped by debris resulting from the tornado.
• Dust mask to protect you from inhaling particles and fine debris.
• Food and water for a day or two; consider specific dietary considerations.
• Your medications and medical supplies.
• If you have children, a special item (e.g., stuffed animal, book, game) to provide comfort.
• Important documents including homeowner’s insurance info.
Additional Important Information
- Tell friends, trusted neighbors and first responders (fire and police) where your safe room is, so they can come to your rescue if the exit becomes blocked by debris.
- Build or purchase the proper size shelter. Consider the residents of the home as well as any neighbors you care to invite. It may sound selfish, but inviting more people than the shelter can hold could have disastrous consequences.
- Get a permit.
- Hire an inspector to make sure the safe room installation is up to snuff.
- Don’t fill the room up with stuff that will have to be moved before you can use the shelter
- Look for products that meet or exceed the FEMA P-320 or the International Code Council (ICC-500) recommendations.
- Save money and buy local. Shipping shelters is expensive, so check out qualified products available near your home.