WICHITA, Kan. -- Having a safe room built into your house can help you protect yourself and your family from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds.
Emergency response personnel and people cleaning up after tornadoes often have found an interior room of a severely damaged home still standing when little of the rest of the house remains.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University have developed specifications for such a safe room. "This room is designed to withstand sustained winds up to 250 miles per hour and to resist penetration by a 15 pound 2x4 stud traveling at 100 miles per hour," said Federal Coordinating Officer Curt Musgrave.
Kansas is especially susceptible to severe winds and tornadoes. "We encourage people to consider building safe rooms," said Terri Ploger, State of Kansas Coordinating Officer. "FEMA and Texas Tech have published Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room inside Your House. This booklet provides a homeowner risk assessment sheet, guidance for selecting a shelter design, detailed construction plans and cost estimates for building an in-home safe room."
Homeowners who receive a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to repair or rebuild a home damaged or destroyed by the severe storms and tornadoes that swept the Wichita area starting on May 3, 1999, may use that loan money to construct a safe room. If the added cost of the safe room causes the repair or reconstruction to exceed the amount of the loan, the SBA may increase the amount of the loan up to 20 percent to cover the added cost.
Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room inside Your House is available free from FEMA. To obtain a copy, call FEMA publications at 1-888-565-3896.