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Building a Tornado Safe Room in
Tornado Safe Rooms
I live in north Texas, just north of the Dallas and Fort Worth Metroplex. Every couple of years or so we have a storm large enough to produce tornadoes, and they do. We have seen what the weather service call EF1, EF2 or maybe as large as a EF3 tornado. So far the big EF5, which they say we're over due for, hasn't happened (thankfully!). Tornadoes are rated by the National Weather Service on the Enhanced Fujita scale. An EF3 is strong enough to do serious damage to your home but leave interior walls standing. So it make sense to take shelter in an interior part of your home during a tornado warning. A room like a walk-in closet that IS NOT on an exterior wall. If you live in a home that has a crawl space or basement, then getting below the floor is the best place to take cover. But here in Texas and Oklahoma, most all new homes are built on concrete slabs.
But what can you do to build a shelter in your home to protect yourself from the damaging winds of a tornado? You can build an interior room with additional strength to give it the ability to remain standing if your home is in the path of a tornado. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend to reinforce this room. My clients take this matter seriously and so do I. Although I realize that here in Texas we have more State Lottery winners than we have tornado victims. Meaning, you have a better chance of winning the Lottery than being a victim of a tornado. However, more and more of our clients are asking what can they do to protect themselves from a tornado.
Commercial Safe Rooms - This is an industry that has taken off in the past decade or so. The engineering schools have been shooting 2x4s into walls studying how to build a safe room that can withstand the forces of the BIG ONE, the EF5. I have seen commercial safe rooms made of steel and rooms made of concrete. The makers of these rooms claim they can withstand a 2x4 piece of lumber being shot at it at 200 miles per hour, about the minimum wind speed of an EF5 tornado. The BIG EF5 tornado is one out of a hundred and the odds of your home being struck by any tornado is, well, like I said, you have better odds at winning the State Lottery than being a tornado victim. But there's always that one time it happens to somebody. Ask anybody in Moore Oklahoma. It has hit them a couple of times that we know of.
Develop a Plan for you and your Family - Although the odds of any of us being a tornado victim are small, ever family needs a plan and a designated place in the house to take shelter if you do find yourselves in the path of any tornado of any size. This needs to be an interior space of small size on the first floor of your home. If you live in a house with a crawl space or basement, then find a suitable space there. During the spring and summer, keep this place cleared from storage and be ready to take shelter in a moment's notice. Get your family a Weather Alert Radio that has the S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) feature in it. Program it for the county or parish you live in. The NWS performs a weekly test on Wednesday and make sure yours is working. Tornados have been know to occur at 2 in the morning with no warning. This radio will should you that warning. In the spring and summer months, always keep one eye to the clouds and keep informed by the television or radio if there is the possibility of severe storms forming in your area.