Know Your Risk And Have A Safe Place To Go… with Time to Get There
When extreme weather threatens, individuals and families need advance warning and
protection from the dangerous forces of extreme winds. Individuals and communities in
tornado and hurricane areas need structurally sound safe rooms and early alert systems.
* Residential Safe Rooms
* Building a Safe Room in Your Home
Additional Websites and Resources
• Texas Tech University Wind Engineering Research Center
• American Red Cross
• National Storm Shelter Association
• Storm Prediction Center
• U.S. Small Business Administration
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Prevention Guides for Emergencies and Disasters
• The Tornado Project
• Before, During and After a Tornado
• National Weather Service
FEMA strongly encourages homeowners and communities to build safe rooms but cannot
endorse or approve specific manufacturers or producers. Disclaimer.
Preparing a Safe Room
Guidelines and instructions for building a safe room
Extreme windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings and
their occupants. Your residence may be built “to code,” but that does not mean it can
withstand winds from extreme events such as tornadoes and major hurricanes. The
purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where you and your family
can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection. You can build a safe room in one
of several places in your home.
• Your basement.
• Atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor.
• An interior room on the first floor.
Safe rooms built below ground level provide the greatest protection, but a safe room built
in a first-floor interior room also can provide the necessary protection. Below-ground safe
rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often
accompany severe windstorms.
To protect its occupants, a safe room must be built to withstand high winds and flying
debris, even if the rest of the residence is severely damaged or destroyed. Consider the
following when building a safe room:
• The safe room must be adequately anchored to resist overturning and uplift.
• The walls, ceiling, and door of the shelter must withstand wind pressure and resist
penetration by windborne objects and falling debris.
• The connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough to resist the
• Sections of either interior or exterior residence walls that are used as walls of the safe
room, must be separated from the structure of the residence so that damage to the
residence will not cause damage to the safe room.