Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business

This page contains information about FEMA P-320 – Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business.

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. Near-absolute protection means that based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built according to the guidance in this publication 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.

All information contained in this publication 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. Therefore, they must be designed with additional architectural, fire safety, ventilation, and other requirements as described in FEMA P-361Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms and ICC 500, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.

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? This publication will help you answer this and other questions so you can decide how best to provide that protection. It includes the results of research that has been underway for more than 30 years by Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute and other wind engineering research facilities on the effects of extreme winds on buildings. Download the entire FEMA P-320 document.

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 to 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.

For more information on how BBB can build a storm shelter for your home or business, contact us here.

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