Things to Consider When Planning a Safe Room


When built according to standards, safe rooms and storm shelters provide a refuge against various natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Some of these structures are also equipped to address man-made threats such as home invasions, and even biological attacks. While these structural extensions provide a level of security and protection to the occupants, property owners should consider standards, location, budget, and materials when planning to invest in a safe room or shelter.

Shelter Should Conform With Federal Standards

Across the U.S., there are companies with extensive experience in security and facility reinforcement that can build a safe room based on federal requirements. In DFW storm shelters and panic rooms must conform with the design and structural standards set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This federal agency sets structural guidelines that are in line with the disaster preparedness goals of the country.

Deciding Factors for Property Owners

The FEMA guidelines recommend a risk assessment before the construction of a safe room or shelter. This is to determine which type of structure works for a particular individual or household. The structures, according to FEMA, should also follow the designs and specifications created by the International Code Council (ICC) for safe shelters. Structures must be able to withstand extreme wind from tornadoes and hurricanes. It should also be able to prevent flying debris from penetrating the structure and causing injury to the occupants.

Another factor to consider is the risk and frequency of tornadoes and hurricanes in the area. For disaster-prone states, this standard is extremely important. When there are no immediate refuge options available for the property owner, constructing a shelter could be explored. Construction and location feasibility, as well as shelter costs, should also be examined.

Other Shelter Design Considerations

Safe rooms or shelters can be built in a home, office, or community facility. FEMA guidelines describe residential and community safe rooms as having a 16-person occupant load limit. Safe rooms or shelters may be constructed inside or outside a home or office building, depending on the preference of the owner. The design should also incorporate fire safety and ventilation standards for the comfort of the occupants.

Safe rooms are tough structures made from materials such as Kevlar, steel, hardened concrete, and fiberglass. Depending on the budget, some sophisticated safe rooms are equipped with telecommunications and digital equipment. These include radio receivers for coordinating with law enforcement, security and alarm systems, and other devices.

Protection From Man-Made Threats

Property owners also typically stock their rooms with an emergency kit as well as water and food supply. Shelters are also designed to provide protection from man-made threats. Some are incorporated with an air filtering system to prevent occupants from inhaling any biological or radioactive contaminants.

A well-built safe room can be an effective protection investment. There are natural and man-made threats out there that could put individual and community lives at risk. During these incidents, a safe room could provide a temporary refuge until the crisis has passed.