Storm Shelters, Safe Rooms, and Tornado Shelters
A reinforced safe room (or above-ground tornado shelter) is as good as an underground shelter. Residential Safe rooms are specially-designed reinforced tornado shelters built into homes, schools and other buildings. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA), in close cooperation with experts in wind engineering and tornado damage, has developed detailed guidelines for constructing a safe room and the storm shelters built by Safe-T-Shelter meet or exceed those specifications.
If No Reinforced Storm Shelter is Available
If you’re like most people, you don’t have a residential tornado shelter. In this case, you need to find a location that is…
- As close to the ground as possible
- As far inside the building as possible
- Away from doors, windows and outside walls
- In as small of a room as possible
If you don’t have a saferoom, basement, panic room, above ground storm shelter, or underground storm shelter, what should you do? Remembering the basics of tornado safety, you should look around your home to determine the best place. You should also seek out community storm shelters in you city or municipality before a storm threatens your community.
Alternate Ideas if a Storm is Coming and You Don’t have a Safe Room
Bathrooms MAY be a good shelter, provided they are not along an outside wall and have no windows. Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing magically safe about getting in a bathtub with a mattress. In some cases, this might be a great shelter. However, it depends on where your bathroom is. If your bathroom has windows and is along an outside wall, it’s probably not the best shelter.
Bathrooms have proven to be adequate tornado shelters in many cases for a couple of reasons. First, bathrooms are typically small rooms with no windows in the middle of a building. Secondly, it is thought that the plumbing within the walls of a bathroom helps to add some structural strength to the room.
However, with tornadoes there are no absolutes, and you should look closely at your home when determining your shelter area.
A small interior closet might be a shelter. Again, the closet should be as deep inside the building as possible, with no outside walls, doors or windows. Be sure to close the door and cover up.
If a hallway is your shelter area, be sure to shut all doors. Again, the goal is to create as many barriers as possible between you and the flying debris in and near a tornado. To be an effective shelter, a hallway should as be far inside the building as possible and should not have any openings to the outside (windows and doors).
- Under Stairs
The space underneath a stairwell could be used as a shelter.
If you Live in an Apartment without a Tornado Shelter, Storm Shelter, Safe Room, or Panic Room
The basic tornado safety guidelines apply if you live in an apartment. Get to the lowest floor, with as many walls between you and the outside as possible.
Apartment dwellers should have a plan, particularly if you live on the upper floors. If your complex does not have a reinforced storm shelter, you should make arrangements to get to an apartment on the lowest floor possible.
In some cases, the apartment clubhouse or laundry room may be used as a shelter, provided the basic safety guidelines are followed. You need to have a shelter area that’s accessible at all times of the day or night.