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Why Do I Need a Safe Room?

Having a safe room in your home or small business can help provide near-absolute protection for you and your family or employees from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds. In areas subject to extreme-wind events, building owners, schools, hospitals, neighborhood associations, and others responsible for public safety should consider building a community safe room.

Near-absolute protection means that the occupants of a safe room built according to FEMA guidance will have a high probability of being protected from injury or death. Our knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes is based on numerous meteorological records as well as extensive investigations of damage to structures from extreme winds. Having a safe room can also relieve some of the anxiety created by the threat of an oncoming tornado or hurricane.

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FEMA P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business

Should you consider building a safe room in your home or small business to provide protection for you, your family or employees during a tornado or hurricane? FEMA P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business can help you determine the best course along with other free material.

Prescriptive Design Drawings for Your Home or Small Business

FEMA P-320 includes safe room designs and shows you and your builder/contractor or local design professional how to construct a safe room for your home or small business. Design options include safe rooms located inside or outside of a new home or small business. Guidance is also provided on how to modify an existing home or small business to add a safe room in an existing space. The safe rooms discussed in FEMA P-320 are designed to provide protection for you, your family or employees from the extreme winds expected during tornadoes and hurricanes and from wind-borne debris associated with these events.

Small Businesses

All information contained in FEMA P-320 is applicable to residential safe rooms but may also be useful for safe rooms in small businesses. However, safe rooms in small businesses (or in residences with greater than 16 occupants) are considered community safe rooms and, therefore, must be designed with additional architectural, fire safety, ventilation and other requirements, as described in FEMA P-361 and ICC 500, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.

Additional Resources

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Learn more about building a community safe room:

FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms

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Guidance for selecting the best available refuge area until a safe room can be constructed:

FEMA P-431, Tornado Protection, Selecting Refuge Areas in Buildings