Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

Preparing for disaster is definitely not a pleasant experience and many people are afraid to deal with anything related to disasters. Preparing a special safe room can take time and money, so you should be prepared to pay a minimum of $ 2000. Prices can go up to $ 5000, but you can agree that saving your own and your family’s lives is much more important than paying that price. As high as it can be, it’s worth it. However, you should know that safe prefabricated rooms cost less than shelters built on the site and accommodated to the details of your home.

Also, before embarking on the journey of creating your own disaster and tornado security room, you should read these FEMA documents: How to protect yourself from the storm. Thanks to this document, you can understand the criteria for a safe room and how you or the professional builders can proceed to create such a room, which meets the requirements of FEMA.

Preparing the design for your safe room.

Before you start buying products to build the room, or hire builders and professionals, you (or they) can evaluate the area of ​​your home. First of all, the security room should ideally be in the basement. In case your house does not have a basement, you can build the safe room on the ground floor. You need to build the room in an easily accessible area (you should not look for it if you have panic, you should be able to locate it immediately during a critical moment).

The room should not have windows and should not be built in a flood-prone area. The idea of ​​the security room is also to withstand strong winds (such as 250 m / h). It must be strong enough to protect it from flying debris, drop heavy pieces from other houses, vehicles, etc. In addition, all connected parts (hinges, etc.) must be strong enough not to break under wind pressure.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

Keep in mind that if you build your safe house on the ground floor, there are several places, which are highly recommended by FEMA: the bathroom, the closet, the laundry room and one of the corners of the garage.

You should know that cabinets, bathrooms, and laundry rooms have the added advantage that they generally do not have windows, so the walls are much sturdier and often offer some level of safety during light storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes. This is especially true with regard to bathrooms, as there are metal tubes for the water supply, which provide an additional boost of safety. Therefore, building your safe room near one of these integrated rooms, part of your home, has a great benefit for your safety.

It is not recommended to build the safe room outside the house, but if you still prefer that option, the room should not be more than 150 feet from the house. After all, you need to get there quickly during a disaster and not waste valuable time to get to the safe room. This last option is good in situations where you need to build your safe house on a budget. It is a little less expensive to build a safe room away from the house, without having to make any modifications to the house.

Re-equipping means that you must accommodate and change the house according to the safe room you plan to build. This means that you have to prepare a budget, which can cover both the building of the safe room and the modernization of the house. In case you can not prepare that budget, it is much more convenient to build the shelter outdoors (no more than 150 feet away from your home). You can also install the safe room in another existing building that you already have in your yard. This is another cheap way to add a safe room to your plans.

There is also the option of building a safe room under the house, and it will be surrounded by land. FEMA does not recommend this, but if you still plan to do so, you will need more funding to cover the cost, since you must first dig under the house and then build the room in the well. It requires many more resources and is expensive.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

Another option is to build the security room as an attachment to the house. You must decide the location depending on whether you can enter the room as quickly as possible if a disaster occurs.

Anchoring the safe room is equally important, so it does not rise if it is lifted by the wind. In addition to that, the door must be opened inside, so that when the tornado has disappeared, you can open the door. If the debris falls in front of the door and opens outward, you may not be able to move it at all.

It is important to know how many people the security room could be accommodated during the tornado before building it. Since tornadoes have a shorter duration compared to hurricanes, the room should not be built with comfort in mind. The average ICC 500 requirement is 3 to 7 square feet per person. You must calculate the necessary area if there is a member of your family bedridden and prepare accordingly. The same applies to family members who are wheelchair bound. The height of the room should be about 8 feet.

FEMA recommends that you plan the room, according to whether you will build it above or below the ground. For example, if you want to build it in the basement area, you must integrate the room to be part of the building’s walls of the house. This is an economical way to save material and time, and still reinforce construction.

Of course, you can build the security room as a separate building and that is perfectly fine, as it will not build on any previously constructed wall (s). While both are fine, the safest method would be the last one.

For the previous versions, there is the so-called slab-on-grade. This means that the base of the security room is below the level of the house and is rooted in the ground (if the house does not have a basement area). Therefore, even if the house is damaged during a tornado, # 8216; roots ” of the security room will keep it in place. After all, the room must be constructed of concrete to make it as solid as possible. It is also recommended to speak with a professional to assess the solidity and structure of the soil and ask if you can retain a safe room of that type in that type of soil.

You should know that making a concrete slab (level slab) should require a soil reinforcement; Otherwise, the stability and protection of the room may be compromised. In addition, said room must have a steel interior inside the walls, ceiling and floor. This helps against cracking and any other change of the safe room.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

To keep the safe room anchored to the ground, it must also be heavy enough. This means that the shelter must have enough dead weight to sustain itself and withstand the high air currents of strong winds. In case your safe room does not have enough dead weight, you need to make some modifications to add the necessary weight. To achieve this, you can add a little extra slab to the foundations or simply reinforce the base of the room.

To determine if any existing safe room needs such weight reinforcement, you can consult an architect or professional engineer to evaluate the room. They will also tell you if the walls of the room need more thickening or not. Basically, any wall reinforcement will require the addition of a steel frame or other support.

For houses that have access space below, you can design the safe room to be part of the first floor and, at the same time, extend the legs of the room to enter the floor, as part of the construction of the house. This may require an additional restructuring of your home. In addition, there should be no space between the security room and the floor. This means that you have to place the floor just below the security room and block the access space below.

One important thing to consider is that building a safe room in existing houses may require a little more effort, construction plans and materials, so it can be more profitable. You must adapt the house to accommodate the safe room, so that the two exist symbiotically and the construction of the house does not suffer because it changed something about it, to attach or build the safe room. So, it is generally much easier to build a safe room along with building the house itself.

Therefore, you can safely integrate the room in the house, so that it uses much less material in general and the room and the house complement each other. This option costs much less.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

Other important information to keep in mind is that you must have a first aid kit inside the room at all times. An emergency kit is also mandatory. Keep a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency radios, some life-saving medications, warm blankets, some dry food or snacks, and, of course, water. Prepare them to be in the room at all times.

Additional considerations

When it comes to choosing the door for the safe room, you must consider very well what should be the material and the elements that will link the door to the safe room. Often, people mistakenly believe that steel doors can be used in such cases, but the truth is that steel doors can not withstand the extreme pressure of the wind and can create situations of risk and even cause death. Many of these doors can not contain flying debris (especially heavier ones).

It is recommended that you speak with a professional about the proper choice for such a door, but all components must be designed and tested specifically to withstand high winds and debris during tornadoes. To be sure of what you buy, look for a certificate on the product that has been tested by an authorized agency.

Also, look for information on how the door is tested. For example, many prefabricated doors and shelters approved by FEMA are tested with missiles, which weigh 15 pounds and travel at 100 m / h. These tests are carried out in vertical constructions, p. Eg the walls With the objects that travel vertically, the tests are carried out with missiles that travel at a speed of 65 m / h.

Also remember that all parts that come with the purchase of the door should be used only with this door and should not replace any of them by other parts. This can compromise the security provided by the door and can even be dangerous during a disaster. If you are looking to buy a door of this type, you should know that you can only get one through some building construction providers or a special supplier of security camera components.

When you prepare to hire a builder or decide to do it all by yourself, you can use the materials in pdf format provided and the detailed plans on how to build your safe room. You can find that document in the link provided in the introduction to this article.

All the design drawings are detailed on how to build four different types of safe rooms: concrete, concrete masonry, insulated concrete and wooden frames. If you follow closely the design drawings when you build the room, you have a high probability of performing as expected, saving your life. This is why FEMA recommends that you hire a builder, since they have an engineer’s training and will make sure that the work is done properly. In addition, a professional builder could perform the job as well as possible.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

If you wish, you can have additional amenities such as telephone wires, power outlets and even a toilet. As these are not part of the design drawings, you should hire a professional builder who can meet these needs in the security room. You should also make sure to keep the name of the manufacturer and the manufacturer.

An important step to evaluate before beginning the construction process is the area where you live and if you live in an area prone to flooding or near the coast. With this in mind, the builder must be able to build the room in such a way as to allow as little water as possible (if there is one).

In addition, the professional version should know where it would be best to place your room safe. For example, if there is a risk of floods or swells, it is not recommended to build the room in the basement or in the basement. There is a risk of water buildup in areas below sea level (such as basements) and even if you are safe in the room, it may not be safe when you open the door after a tornado.

If you decide to do the building yourself, check the ICC 500 standards. You can not build your safe room without buying it. This document will show you and help you in detail with all the required material and the construction itself.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

Next, you must gather all the elements, materials, construction manuals, etc. needed and start building the security room. You can use anchor points that are driven by an external force, thus minimizing the risk of horizontal movements of the safe house, especially during the tornado.

When it comes to vertical anchors, we recommend that you consider Simpson Strong Tie materials. Here is a sample anchor, and it has many positive customer reviews. They often report that these anchors are very resistant and provide perfect support, even in other constructions such as porches, decks, etc.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

When you have assembled the material of the structure, fix the walls and ceiling to the base plate and the anchors, and you will be ready to add the door. It must be in accordance with the FEMA certification. You can also add some interior walls of plywood, but under the layer of plywood there must be a steel frame to keep the room solid and stable.

Tornado prefabricated security room

Of course, as already mentioned, there is the option of buying a prefabricated safe room and saving time and resources in building one. If you do not have time to build a shelter, prefabricated shelters are your option.

The most popular is the manufacturer of Securall, whose rooms and safe havens are approved and certified by FEMA. They have passed the tests we mentioned in this article and can provide the protection they claim they offer.

This completely sold out shelter from Securall is one of these affordable options. It can accommodate up to 4 people and does not cost a fortune. The room has two ventilation openings to ensure that fresh air enters the room and prevent the buildup of pressure during your stay in the room. The purchase of this secure room will guarantee that you also have several safety kits, shelves and folding benches.

Tornado Safe Room: How to Build Your Own or Choose Prefabricated One

The manufacturer offers several sizes for your prefabricated secure rooms, so feel free to explore these products. They are made to fit a small family of 3-4 members or an entire community of 20 people.

Building a safe house requires a lot of planning and evaluation of existing resources. Employing a professional builder also requires more finances, but in the end you can not compare the lives of your family members with the payment of several thousand dollars.


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