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FEMA P-361 History and Relevant FEMA Building Science Activities

The information below contains the history of FEMA P-361 and relevant FEMA Building Science activities that have led to the criteria listed in FEMA P-361.

The primary purpose of FEMA P-361 is to provide guidance on best practices related to the design, construction, and operation of safe rooms. It provides the design criteria for any safe room, public or private, to be capable of providing near-absolute protection for its occupants during tornadoes and hurricanes. Safe rooms receiving FEMA grant funding must comply not only with the International Code Council® (ICC®) / National Storm Shelter Association® (NSSA®) Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters (ICC 500), but also the corresponding recommended criteria described in Part B of FEMA P-361 and the requirements as described in the most current edition of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Unified Guidance.

The background information and history of FEMA P-361, including key tornado and hurricane events that helped inform the development of the current FEMA safe room design criteria, are discussed in the link below.

History and Relevant FEMA Building Science Activities

Topics include:

  1. Background
  2. Tornado Events
  3. Hurricane Events
  4. Post-Disaster Assessments, Research, and Design Development

Publication resources for safe rooms:

  • FEMA P-320. Fourth Edition, 2014. Taking Shelter from the Storm, Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business. [Free]
  • FEMA P-361. Third Edition, 2015. Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms. [Free]
  • ICC 500. 2014. ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters. [For purchase and download]
  • Highlights of ICC 500-2014 [Free]

Webpage links for safe room information:

Return to FEMA P-361 - Safe Rooms for Tornados and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms.

Questions? Click on the "Frequently Asked Questions" link to view FAQs about design and construction of safe rooms. If you need additional information about the design and construction of safe rooms, contact the Safe Room Helpline by emailing Saferoom@fema.dhs.gov or calling (866) 927-2104.

Last Updated: 
08/15/2017 - 11:22