Thirteen minutes. That’s all the time you have on average to seek shelter after a tornado warning is issued. If you’re at home when the warning comes, staying put will give you the best odds of survival. And those odds will increase substantially if you a have safe place in your home to ride out the storm.
For people living in wood-frame homes without basements, that “safe” place often ends up being an interior room, such as a closet or bathroom, with no windows. But in a powerful tornado or hurricane packing winds of more than 250 miles per hour, even well-constructed frame houses can be lifted right off their foundations, and large debris can turn into airborne missiles. During such extreme conditions, one of the safest places you can be is in a room constructed of reinforced concrete or concrete block with no windows and a concrete floor or roof system overhead.
That’s why more and more people, especially homeowners living in tornado-prone areas, are building concrete safe rooms in new and existing homes. When constructed according to approved plans, these windowless, heavily reinforced structures can withstand winds exceeding 250 mph and projectiles traveling at 100 mph or greater, protecting occupants from Mother Nature’s worst wrath.
Building a concrete safe room is not an inexpensive proposition, especially if you are adding one to an existing home. But it’s impossible to put a value on a structure that will give you peace of mind and could save your life. Here are a few factors to consider before building a concrete safe room as well as guidelines and resources for safe room construction.