Tornado Safe Room
Tornado Room: Do you have one?
About 1,000 tornadoes touch down in the U.S.A. every year. While most do not strike occupied buildings, there is much damage as well as loss of life and injury. If you live in a region called “Tornado Alley” in the US, or anywhere tornadoes can and do occur, it just might save your life and the life of your family to pay attention to this article about tornado rooms.
Extreme windstorms whether straight-line winds, hurricane winds or a tornado, can pose a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Even buildings built to code, and designed to withstand high winds, are not immune from life-threatening damage.
A tornado safe room, or simply a tornado room, is a space that can withstand severe winds and provide a place where you and your family (and even your pets!) can be safe. These rooms are often found in basements or securely fashioned to concrete bases.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), James Witt, stated, “When that tornado warning comes, people need to put their family in a safe place. We know that safe rooms save lives. The National Tornado Forum has also announced an effort to encourage people to build “safe rooms.”
Many deaths attributed to tornadoes are simply because the people were not aware that they were in imminent danger. So the first thing you should do is learn how to be alert to the onset of severe weather, especially what kind of a tornado warning system your community offers. If you see strange clouds or the weather seems strange, you should tune into a television or radio weather station.
If a tornado watch is issued for your area, it means a tornado is possible. It is best to keep an eye on the weather, and continue to listen to local weather updates.
A tornado warning means at least one tornado has actually been spotted or is strongly indicated on radar, and you should find a safe tornado shelter immediately.
What Makes For A Good Safe Room?
Usually, tornado safe rooms built below ground are considered the safest, but a tornado safe room built above ground either securely fashioned to a concrete slab (such as in your basement) or in an interior room can also provide protection. A safe room should be built strong enough to withstand high winds and flying debris. It must remain intact, regardless of what happens to the structure it is part of. If underground, it must be designed to not flood.
A Tornado Room Must:
- Have walls, floor, ceiling and a door strong enough to resist high winds and flying debris
- The connections holding the above components must be strong enough for straight and twisting pressure
- Be adequately and securely anchored to avoid being lifted or overturned
- Walls from the main structure should usually not be used as a wall for the safe room so any damage to the main building will not affect the safe room
- Depending on the location, a tornado air filter can keep fresh air flowing
- Have a tornado kit, a container holding fresh water, food, blankets and a medical kit
There are a number of commercially-produced tornado safe rooms, which are generally made from steel or fiberglass and can often be installed by the user. Whether or not you build your own or buy a commercial tornado room, make sure you use it properly. You and your family are only safe if you are IN the tornado room if a tornado ever does hit your building.