Rooms for Severe Weather:
safe room for severe weather is a structure that is designed to meet
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines and and design
methods to provide its occupants protection in extreme weather events,
especially tornadoes and hurricanes. Providing personal protection means
that, the design is founded on knowledge of the proper materials and
construction of the structure as a whole, including anchoring. Based
on research provided from FEMA and Texas Tech, a safe room built in
accordance with FEMA guidlines will have a very high probability of
protecting the occupants from windborne debris. For a safe room to be
considered a FEMA safe room, the structure will be designed and constructed
according to the guidelines specified in the FEMA P-320 booklet, Taking
Shelter from the Storm:
severe weather threatens, individuals and families need advance warning
and protection from the dangerous forces of extreme winds and life threatening
events. Individuals and communities in high-risk tornado and hurricane
areas need structurally sound shelters and early alert systems.
general, residential safe rooms may be built on site, in a new or existing
home, or may be manufactured units delivered to the site and installed.
A safe room may be built or installed anywhere in a house with a sound
concrete foundation for anchoring. For maximum strenght against high
winds, it must be a "room within a room" (a self supporting
structure). It's walls, ceiling, and floor must be structurally separate
from the rest of the house or building so that even if the surrounding
structure is destroyed, the safe room will be left intact. If design,
construction and anchoring is done correctly, the results after a direct
hit from a larger tornado should look like the photos below. It's obvious
from the pictures below, one can clearly see that both of these strutures
have done there duty, and performed structuraly exactly what they were
(Left photo) Tuscaloosa, AL January
11,2001 -- This vault is all that remains of a bank that took a direct
hit from an F-4 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa in December. The vault is
an excellent visual image of how a safe room in your home is designed
to work. Photo by Jason Pack/ FEMA News Photo
(Photo right) In this May 26,, 2011, photo, a safe
room is one of the few things remaining in Piedmont, Okla., after a
deadly tornado moved through the Falcon Lake neighborhood.AP Photo/Sue
the event of severe weather, the occupants of a house equipped with
an internal safe room is able reach the shelter without having to leave
the house and risk exposure to high winds, flying debris, lightning,
or other storm conditions. For those reasons, the occupants of a house
equipped with an internal safe room are more likely to protect themselves
are examples of what are called 'pre-construction' or 'drop in safe
rooms. These units may be integrated into the floorplans of new construction.
All electrical and A/C and heating ducting are figured into the design.
This type of structure will look like a normal closet when finished
out. Whether it be a simple safe room equipped with a FEMA 320 rated
door, or firerated with a vault door, it' just a matter of adopting
the design to fit the individuals needs.
SAFE ROOMS AND PRODUCTS:
stand alone safe rooms for new construction may be manufactured to
the size of the closet or room of new, or exsting home. If your in
the process of building a home we can design our safe rooms around
your floorplan design. It is always more cost effective to build a
drop-in safe room other than a modulare one. The build time is generally
40% faster for a drop-in as compared to a modular system. This is
due to the labor invoved in designing and constructing the connections.
better quality control of the products we design and manufacture,
RhinoVault fabricates its own safe room doors, safe rooms and vault
products in our own facility. From there we can either ship the units
crated or palleted, or as in many cases as a kit. We also have installation
crews that may travel to install in many areas of the United States.
bolt together systems may be designed and built for a larger building
or designated area of your home or business. The height of our vaults
usually have a minimum 6" drop down.
THINGS TO BE AWARE OF DURING SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS
alert to changing weather conditions.
to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts
for the latest information. Look for approaching storms
for the following danger signs:
often greenish sky
hail A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared
to take shelter immediately.
safe rooms built primarily protect personel from dangerous weather events,
the best protection from severe weather is to pay attention the conditions,
keep a 'heads up' and pay attention to your local meterologists and
news stations. Tornadoes may form rather quickly when the conditions
are right, giving you less than ample warning and catching families
off guard. Be aware of rain wrapped tornadoes which are almost impossible
to see. Using your smart phone or the internet to access doppler radar
sites is also a great tool
PROTECTIVE SAFE ROOMS (PANIC ROOMS).
extreme protection against firearms ous safe rooms may be built
out of ballistic rated panels or armor hardplate for resistance
against both low and high caliber projectiles. This type of safe
room is used primarily against forced entry and may use existing
wall studs to attach security panels to. The difference between
this type of safe room and the ones described above is that this
type of safe room is not designed for wind. Although a safe room
can be designed for both wind and entry protection, the design for
just entry and firearms may be different.
picture above left, shows a safe room that was built and set onto
the concrete slab prior to the framing of the house. This safe room
was complete with lighting, electrical outlets, and an offset ventilation
duct was added for A/C and heat.
to use a good door for the opening of your safe rooms. Check the
thickness of the skins and total weight of the doors before you
order. The heavier the better. Don't make the opening of your safe
room the weak link. Safety first.
an 8,000 lb. safe room / walk-in vault is achieved by a few people
and machinery skates located on three points under the shelter.
The cord on the door is an extension cord that is plugged into a
wall oulet for the lighting until it is hard wired in to the building.
Lighting and electrical are included in most of our safe rooms and
the anchoring of the structure is finished, these safe rooms and
vaults are ready for use.
of our doors are custom built for security and funtionality. Wood
overlay and taller 8ft doors may be constucted to match the existing
design of the home.
of our safe rooms and vaults are built to the specific size and
security needs of the customer. Whether it's a standard wind rated
safe room or a vault for guns or valuables we can design and construct
a room that will fit your needs.
on the side of the one pictured directly above is for greater lateral
and horizontal loads that may be applied during extreme wind events.
The tubing is welded to the plate steel, thus strengthening the
room for maximum protection. Kind of like a additional protective
all safe room companies do this, but we think it helps the overall
design. If smooth outside walls are desired, where the exterior
of the vault wll be seen, garage, warehouse, etc., the tubing may
be placed on the inside.
may also be attached to the inside or outside of the shelter using
these structural 'ribs' to attach to. They are usually space 24"
@ center horizontally where possible.
windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to
buildings and their occupants. Your residence may be built “to code,”
but that does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events
such as tornadoes and major hurricanes."
you know the weather conditions are ripe for severe weather, make
it a household rule to tune in to your local radio or tv station.
Severe weather can turn deadly in minutes. Track the direction of
the storm and make a plan for your family. Remember to keep batteries
up in your flashlight and if you can purchase a NOAA
radio. Check Radio Shack or Walmart . It's a great investment.
to be aware of after a tornado:
gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of
fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know
how to shut off natural gas.
there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter
configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company for
guidance on preparation and response regarding gas appliances and gas
service to your home.
When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the
information with everyone in your household.
sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas
shut-off procedure. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise,
open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using
the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s
- If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must
turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings
and their occupants. Your residence may be built “to code,” but that
does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events such as tornadoes
and major hurricanes.
purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where
you and your family can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection.
You can build a safe room in one of several places in your home.
top a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor.
interior room on the first floor.
and communities in high-risk tornado and hurricane areas need structurally
sound shelters and early alert systems. A small interior room above
grade is the best location for a safe room.
rooms are often used for other non-emergency purposes. Bathrooms and
large closets are a frequent choice. Because warning times for tornadoes
can be very short, quick access to the safe room is important in choosing
location. If the owners have any special accessibility needs these should
be considered in the location and design of the safe room.
Safe rooms built below ground level provide the greatest protection,
but a safe room built in a first-floor interior room also can provide
the necessary protection. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to
avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany
protect its occupants, a safe room must be built to withstand high winds
and flying debris, even if the rest of the residence is severely damaged
Consider the following when building a safe room:
safe room must be adequately anchored to resist overturning and
The walls, ceiling, and door of the shelter must withstand wind
pressure and resist penetration by windborne objects and falling
connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough
to resist the wind.
of either interior or exterior residence walls that are used as
walls of the safe room, must be separated from the structure of
the residence so that damage to the residence will not cause damage
to the safe room.
weather patterns change, an increasing number of homeowners are building
safe rooms to protect their families from the extreme wind events, and
a secure room in a home can provide a family a place to go when severe
weather hits, and also provide a place to secure valuables and keep
any number and type of firearms out of site from curious eyes.
specializes in custom sizes and can build a safe room or security vault
to fit into an existing space, in a existing home or business. Safe
rooms and Vaults must be anchored to a sound concrete slab to provide
FEMA rated high wind protection. This is achieved by using high strength
wedge type anchors along the bottom anchoring flange along to bottom
of each safe room and vault.
safe rooms are generally equipped with 3 heavy duty ball bearing hinges
with commercial grade deadbolts (2 or 3 that are keyed alike) or internal
sliders and one commercial locking entry handle.
our safe rooms and vaults, electrical outlets, lighting, secure venting,
communication line conduits, and other types of options may be added
at customers request. Venting may also be put into the door for more
air flow if needed.
drop-in safe rooms are generally installed using 6 ton machinery skates
(3) giving the installation process a low foot print. No skidding is
evident after the Installation which only takes only a few hrs on a
new slab if access is permitting. A crane or boom truck is only used
where location and / or access is an issue. This keeps the cost of installation
to a minimum.
valuables or guns need secure storage, a customized vault door may be
added to the inside of the room like the one below along with furring
strips to attach UL fire rated sheetrock to. We also may use ceramic
fiber in some of the vaults more media and higher fire ratings.
nice thing about the modular units is that once purchased it may be
taken with you (re-locatable), so if you ever decide to relocate, you
can grab a few friends and break it down, transport it, the build it
in its new location. We can do this work for you also for a fee and
is rated on mileage.
ability to re-locate a vault is great for businesses that have a lease
on a building. Since all the connections are done from with in the structure
using 1/2" bolts, there is no need for welding, just a few handtools.
picture above shows a pre-built drop-in security vault for sensitive
safe room above has an electronic keypad and three deadbolts.
safe rooms may be constructed out of balliistic rated material. These
materials will stop bullets and have a high carbon content.
is an example of a 7.62 NATO round shot multiple times against ballistic
are also composite panels made out of ballistic fiberglass composites
that may be used for safe room construction.
can manufacture doors and safe rooms with this material. For commercial
applications a non-ricochet material is used. For special applications
high carbon steel may be used. Certain types of hardened steel plate
has excellent anti-drill properties and is very tough against many hostile
intrusion and forced entry tools.