Storm Safe Room: How to Build It?

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Tornadoes and hurricanes are common in the United States, a lot many of which are powerful enough to tear apart homes, right from their foundations. While most of the people generally seek shelter in interior rooms or cellars of their homes, in hopes for the best, the fact is that these areas don't provide ample safety against storms that clock over a 100 miles per hour.

Safe Room are a great way to safeguard your belongings and loved ones from these natural calamities.

Storm Safe Room: How to Build It? - daviddadson - psa2-637.jpg

What is a safe room?

As per FEMA, a safe room is "a hardened structure specifically designed to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria and provide "near-absolute protection" in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes."

Safe rooms can serve multiple purposes. When not in use, they can be used as storage rooms, pantry, bath, walk-in closet or storage shed (if on the outside of your home space).

Storm Safe Room: How to Build It? - daviddadson - psa1-636-638.jpg

They can range anywhere between 4x4 to 10x10 and even more, in size, depending on the requirement.

Other factors that are also taken into consideration are:

  • Space available
  • Number of people expected to be protected
  • Secondary use of the room
  • Budget
  • Kind of storm that is witnessed in the area [EF rating]
  • If the area is in a 'storm urge zone' or 'flood zone'

Safe rooms can be constructed either above or below the ground and for both residential and commercial purposes.

Safe rooms don't really cost a fortune. In fact, they are increasingly being encouraged by governments of countries that face wind menaces like tornadoes and hurricanes. Many governments are also providing aid to its citizens to get safe rooms built in their home spaces.

Kinds of Safe Rooms

There are a number of construction options that one can consider for building Safe Rooms. They are:

  • Wood & steel Sandwiched
  • Re-enforced Concrete Block
  • Poured Re-enforced Concrete
  • Welded Solid Steel & Fiberglass
  • Pre-built modular Steel or Cast Concrete

Constructing a Safe Room [DIY]

  1. Decide on the storm intensity that the room needs to face to determine the strength of the construction. This is usually done by checking the EF rating which ranges between 1-5, one being lesser impactful and five being extremely devastating.
  2. Decide on whether it needs to be built above or below the ground. You would want to check if your area is a flood zone or not, for deciding on this.
  3. Here is a simple floor plan of a safe room you can follow. The left diagram is for a below the ground and the right is for an above the ground safe room.
  4. Dig a hole deep and wide enough to construct the walls and install a tornado shelter door, if you opt for a below the ground model.
  5. Create walls of concrete having a thickness of at least 5 inches.
  6. Create a frame using fiberglass, steel or wood along with a waterproof lining and using anchors fix the frame to the foundation, firmly. You can also add more layers of wire mesh to give the structure greater strength.
  7. Pour concrete over the created frame and let it completely cure.
  8. Make way for adequate ventilation.
  9. Install the tornado shelter doors ensuring that their steel frame is secured and sealed in with the rest of the built space.
  10. Your safe room is now ready. You can additionally furnish the interiors to make it more comfortable.
Have specific queries on constructing safe rooms? Post your thoughts, takes and questions below and we'll get back with answers.

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