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Building a Safe Room Inside Your Home

Every year hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme windstorms injure and kill people, and damage millions of dollars worth of property in the United States. Even so, each year more and more people are building homes in hurricane and tornado prone areas, potentially putting themselves and their families into the path of these dangerous storms. Development along the Alabama Gulf coast, and in communities all across south Alabama in resent years is no exception, and the amount of property as well as the number of lives threatened by a land falling hurricane, has subsequently increased dramatically.

Extreme winds can create stresses on houses that frequently causes connections between building components to fail. For example, the roof or siding material can be pulled off or the windows can be blown out. Once this type of wind damage occurs, additional and often more significant damage can follow. In addition, during extreme winds, damage can also be caused by flying debris. If winds become strong enough, flying debris can be thrown at a building with enough force to penetrate windows, walls, or the roof. In fact, most of the common materials used in building today can be penetrated by flying debris if winds become strong enough. For this reason, persons living in areas where extreme winds associated with hurricanes or tornadoes could occur, should consider having a shelter, or safe room, built into their home to provide a place to seek safe shelter and protect themselves and their families from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds. It can also relieve some of the anxiety created by the threat of an oncoming hurricane or tornado.

Over the past several years, extensive testing and design by several universities and wind engineering research facilities has resulted in the development of shelters constructed of building materials and combinations of building materials that will withstand the forces imposed on it by extreme winds without failing, and will also resist penetration by wind blown flying debris. These safe rooms are most easily built into new homes, but some shelter designs can be added to existing homes. For more detailed information about building a shelter , or safe room, inside your house, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Regardless as to whether or not you decide to build a shelter in your house, there are two important steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family during a hurricane or tornado. First, prepare an emergency plan; and second, put an emergency supply kit together. Information about each of these steps can be found elsewhere in this document.

(Note: Information courtesy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.)


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