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Safe Room Construction

A Safe Room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet FEMA criteria and provide "near-absolute protection" in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. The level of protection provided by a safe room is a function of its design parameters, specifically the design wind speed and resulting wind pressure and the wind-borne debris load resistance. To be considered a FEMA safe room, the structure must be designed and constructed to the guidelines specified in the most recent edition of FEMA publications Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business (FEMA P-320) and Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms (FEMA P-361).  Additionally, all applicable Federal, State, and local codes must be followed. When questions arise pertaining to the differences between FEMA P-361 criteria and another code or standard, the most conservative criteria should apply.

HMA safe room construction projects are designed to provide immediate life-safety protection for a limited at-risk population that cannot evacuate out of harm’s way before an event. These mitigation activities are available for public and private structures for severe wind events including tornadoes and hurricanes. For the purposes of PDM program and HMGP, “safe room” applies only to the following:

  • Extreme wind (combined tornado and hurricane) residential and non-residential safe rooms;
  • Extreme wind (combined tornado and hurricane) community safe rooms;
  • Tornado community safe rooms; and
  • Hurricane community safe rooms.

Safe room construction projects include retrofits of existing facilities and new safe room construction and apply to both single- and dual-use facilities.