by Jennifer Jones
It's official: you are building a dream home and nothing is getting in your way. It has the perfect amount of space, plenty of storage, the kitchen is divine, and the laundry room is massive. What more could a homeowner want? If you have ever experienced a natural disaster up close and a little too personal, then a safe room should be on top of that list.
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A safe room is a designated space designed specifically for family members to retreat for high protection from whatever nature decides to throw your way. When building new, the safe room can play double duty, often serving as a master closet or spacious bath. For retrofitted homes or those desiring a more designated space, it is also a possibility to add on a safe room. Either way, safe rooms of varying sizes all require the same basic components:
- Smaller interior room that is located above grade
- Must be quickly accessible from major living spaces
- Should be tested and able to withstand storm forces of the highest degree yet experienced
- Must be able to withstand penetration by storm forced projectiles
- Anchored securely with special grade anchor bolts to resist overturning despite the force placed upon it
- The door requires three or more latches
- Door locks must work so that no person is locked in or out
- Must be operable by all family members (within reason)
For homeowners with basement foundations, it is possible to place your safe room in the basement. However, keep in mind family members that may experience accessibility issues. Tornadoes are known for appearing quite suddenly and the safe room is only functional if it can be reached hastily. Additionally, safe rooms in flood prone areas should never be installed in the basement. It is also important to note that safe rooms are not suitable in flood situations; evacuation is crucial in these natural disasters.
Safe rooms are not required in building codes, but your region may offer incentives if a safe room is included in your building plans. Even easier, prefabricated safe rooms are widely available and built according to FEMA standards. These safe rooms are highly recommended for those on a budget or those who may not possess the knowledge of safe room construction. Whichever means you choose, taking the steps to incorporate a safe room is a great way to ease the mind and increase the safety of your home for your entire family.
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