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Build A Safe Room And Know When To Use It

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Release date: 
May 24, 2011
Release Number: 

The severe storms that swept across northern Georgia on April 27 and 28 clearly demonstrated the serious threat that extreme weather conditions can have on this part of the state. Although a home may be built “to code,” that does not mean it can withstand the forces from extreme events such as tornadoes, straight line winds and major hurricanes.

A safe room or a wind shelter that is part of a homestead will provide a space where you and your family have a 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.

Underground safe rooms provide the greatest protection; a safe room built in a first-floor interior room also can provide adequate protection. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany severe windstorms.

A free FEMA publication, Taking Shelter from the Storm, contains construction plans and building supply lists for several types of safe rooms. It can be ordered at 1-800-480-2520, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It can also be downloaded from the FEMA Website at and clicking on the line “Guidelines and instructions for building a safe room.”

You should also consider buying a NOAA All hazards Weather Radio for advance warnings of weather emergencies issued by the nearest National Weather Service office. Radio broadcasts include watches and warnings for heavy rains, flash flooding, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, extreme heat/cold, creek and river rises, and other hazards. Information is broadcast automatically and as needed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Weather radio prices range from $20 to $200, depending on the model and features. They can be purchased at retail stores that sell electronics, some drug stores, through mail-order catalogs or via the Internet.

They provide you with early warnings that may save your family’s lives and protect your property by giving you advance notice to move, secure, raise or evacuate valuable items. Most are portable and can run on AC power or batteries. They are inexpensive enough to have more than one for placement in different locations such as your home, office, cabin, car and boat.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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