In some areas of the country a safe room is almost requisite for survival, in the rest of this nation it’s simply a good idea. What is a safe room? A safe room is a room you can go to be safe. Simple answer, but it means more than that, really. A safe room is usually referred to in a couple of different ways. In the security industry a safe room is a room in your house with extra security features built in for your safety. If a burglar or stalker breaks in you can go there and the bad guy can’t get you. Or at least that’s the plan. In the weather field a safe room is a place built to excess recommendations that will pretty much keep the storm that rages outside at bay, and keep you safe from being impaled by a two by four.
In the world of survivalism a safe room is a place where you can go that is not only fortified from attack, but allows you to fight back by utilizing its armor as a shield. In my world a safe room is a place that can accomplish all three feats. It is a room that is a defensible position against attack, it shields you from severe wind storms, and it allows you to escape an unexpected intrusion.
Ideally, this room should be located on either the first floor if you have a crawl space, or better yet, in a basement. It should be constructed of good quality material and exceed normal building requirements. For example, use a two by six instead of a two by four in the walls. But rather than read about my dream home, take a quick look at this book, Taking Shelter From The Storm available at FEMA. You can download the entire publication for free, and I suggest you do so, and add it to your survival and preparedness library.
One thing you should keep in mind is to not build any emergency shelter in an area subject to flooding. The last thing you want to do is get all bundled up and safe, then notice the water oozing in under the doorway. Remember to make it large enough for your family, plus a few extra. Load it up with emergency supplies such as bedrolls/blankets, food, emergency lighting and a radio and so forth. Follow the same regimen as you do for your regular preparedness planning as this is all part of the same goal.
If you are building a new house, that makes it easier because you can have a special room constructed new, rather than retrofitting and existing structure. My suggestion is that you look into using concrete as a medium for building. It’s a lot stronger and has many advantages over conventional building materials. One advantage is that you can have it built with extra reinforcement built in to make it stronger. I’m not so crazy about cinder block construction, but if you live in an area pretty much devoid of earthquake activity that may work as a medium as well.
Whatever you choose to do, there are some suggestions on where to place your safe room that make a lot of sense. For one, if you need to place your safe room in the basement, make sure it is built on the side that the prevailing winds blow from. That way, if your house does fall down above you, the debris field will fall and blow away from your location, leaving less of a debris field above you.
As another recommendation, if you have a crawl space as opposed to a basement, then build an interior room as a safe room, or utilize an interior hallway for the purpose. A bathroom could also be used. If you have to use a room with windows make sure you have a way to shutter the outside world from that window. Make sure that no one can see in from the outside, or detect any light to indicate someone may be in the room. Make a shutter system from metal or thick wood. 2X material, with shiplap, or maybe spline joints to connect the pieces together. Reinforce them as needed with steel plates for strength.
If you live in an area with frequent damaging wind storms you really need to make sure you have some kind of safe room or cellar that you can take shelter from, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Back during the cold war era community shelters were a dime a dozen, but today they are practically unheard of. This needs to be changed, and the change has to start at the bottom and work its way up. Build and outfit your own shelter, then convince your friends and neighbors to do the same. The more people there are in a community that think preparedness and shelters are necessary, the greater the probability of it happening at the community level.
Download the book Taking Shelter From The Storm from FEMA and include the building and outfitting a safe room in your emergency preparedness planning. It’ll be worth the effort when the storms come in the coming times.