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What you need to know about safe rooms and is it worth the investment

Posted on: July 13th, 2020

If you have lived in Oklahoma for any amount of time, you’ve experienced a tornado or two. On average, Oklahoma gets about 57 per year, hence the name “tornado alley”. When a tornado hits your area, you want to be prepared. Have you considered a safe room, or a panic room as some may call it? Safe rooms come in all shapes and sizes. They can also be as high tech or low tech as your budget will allow.

FEMA outlines some very specific requirements for being considered a FEMA safe room and offers some great insight on the matter.

Residential Safe Rooms

All safe rooms need to meet the requirements laid out in the FEMA P-361 guidelines. When locating a contractor to install your safe room, it’s important to check and make sure that they follow these guidelines. For example, did you know that your standard steel door is not the right option for your safe room? Or that there are specific foundation and anchoring requirements when using a prefab safe room?

What does it cost to build a safe room?

Cost can vary depending on the size of your room and other security options you might include. It will also vary based on whether it is new construction or you are working from an existing home structure. On average FEMA indicates that a 10 square foot, pre-fabricated room can cost around $3000-$7000.

There might be an opportunity to get a grant or funding to build your safe room. You can find out your eligibility by contacting your states Hazard Mitigation Officer. A list by state can be found here on the FEMA website.

Do your research before hiring a safe room or tornado shelter contractor

Whomever you choose to install your next safe room, should be able to easily show you the certification labels to make sure the parts and items used passed the ICC 500 test to meet or exceed FEMAs requirements.

Check the reviews, get recommendations from friends and make sure they are licensed and certified in your state.

Lastly, make sure it is properly inspected. Because in the end, it’s you and your family’s safety. And you want to make sure you are optimally protected in the time of crisis.

Learn more about safe room requirements and Oklahoma weather by visiting any of the links below:
https://www.weather.gov/oun/tornadodata-ok-monthlyannual
https://www.livescience.com/25675-tornado-alley.html
https://www.fema.gov/safe-rooms/frequently-asked-questions-tornado/hurricane-safe-rooms

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