Take Shelter – Build a Safe Room Inside Your House

Houses are built in accordance with local building codes that consider the effects of severe weather. A tornado or hurricane can cause winds much greater than those on which local code requirements are based. Having a house built to code does not mean that it can withstand extreme winds.

The purpose of a storm shelter is to provide a space where you and your family can survive a tornado with little or no injury.

Your shelter should be readily accessible from all parts of your house and should be free of clutter. To protect the occupants during extreme windstorms, the shelter must be adequately anchored to the house foundation to resist overturning and uplift. The connections between all parts of the shelter must be strong enough to resist failure, and the walls, roof and door must resist penetration by wind borne debris.

The Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University has been involved in shelter design for many years. If you or your builder/contractor have questions about designing your shelter, call 1-806-742-3479 extension 336 for technical guidance or write to FEMA, 500 C. Street SW, Washington, DC 20472 and request a copy of Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House. This book includes construction plans and cost estimates.