Today, safe rooms come in many shapes and sizes. Whether you are building a new home or have an existing home, you can build in a safe room practically anywhere. Imagine your laundry room, bathroom or bedroom closet having a secondary purpose as a tornado shelter. That is a great way to keep your existing space usable and provide safety and peace of mind for you and your family.
There are other options, too. Maybe you would prefer to turn your garden shed or pool room into a safe room. That is something many builders are doing now, as well. If you can imagine it, you can probably have it done. Just remember that it needs to be located on the ground floor of your home, in your basement, or outside.
Safe rooms come in 4 basic plans:
Yes, that's pretty wide open, but it's a start for you to decide what you want to focus on. Determining which one is best for you depends upon a number of factors.
Now, I want to make something clear for the purpose of this article. What I'm discussing here are safe rooms. This is kind of a subset of storm shelters. There are a lot of different kinds of storm shelters. For my purpose here, I want to focus on safe rooms.
An example of a tornado shelter would be what you find in many garages in Oklahoma which are (indoor) and (below ground). You never have to take a step outside to get to safety. That may be a good choice for you if you have children or pets.
How big does a safe room need to be? That depends on how many people you expect to have in your room. FEMA suggests 3 square feet per person.
How much do they cost? Again, that depends on the size. The price for a residential unit installed inside an existing home ranges from $7,000 to $10,000. In some cases, a retro-fit cannot be done due to architechtural issues with the home's design.
Does it cost less for a safe room installed in a new home? Yes, it does. You can even get a pre-fabricated safe room and install it yourself if you have contruction experience. You need to make sure it meets FEMA standards.
It isn't enough to have a place to run to. You need to be sure you can survive there if you have to stay there for a period of time. Consider the "what-ifs". What if the storm is such that your exit is blocked and you have to wait for some time before someone can get you out? What if the storm is so bad you have to use the emergency rations you stocked until help arrives? Think Hurricane Katrina.
Make sure your shelter holds enough supplies to take care of the people it will hold for a period of at least three days. Pack it like you would a Bug Out Bag at a very minimum.
Here are some supplies to make sure you have on hand:
An additional resource worth reading is FEMA's shelter and tornado reference pdf: Residential Safe Rooms
Only you can decide if you are safely protected from a storm. If a tornado is bearing down on your community, will your home be able to withstand the winds that come with that storm? Plan ahead. Be prepared. Think it through.