There are several possible locations in your house for a shelter. Perhaps the most convenient and safest is below ground level, in your basement. If your house does not have a basement, you can install an in-ground shelter beneath a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or a concrete garage floor. Basement shelters and in-ground shelters provide the highest level of protection against missiles and falling debris.
Another alternative shelter location is an interior room on the first floor of the house. Researchers, emergency response personnel, and people cleaning up after a tornado have often found an interior room of a house still standing when all other above ground parts of the house have been destroyed. Closets, bathrooms, and small storage rooms offer the advantage of having a function other than providing occasional storm protection. Typically, these rooms have only one door and no windows, which makes them well-suited for conversion to a shelter. Bathrooms have the added advantage of including a water supply and toilet.
Regardless of where in your house you build your shelter, the walls and ceiling of the shelter must be built so that they will protect you from missiles and falling debris, and so that they will remain standing if your house is severely damaged by extreme winds. If sections of your house walls are used as shelter walls, those sections must be separated from the structure of the house. This is true regardless of whether you use interior or exterior walls of the house.
If you live in an area that is not required to evacuate and cannot protect all your windows and doors, for whatever reason, you must identify and protect a portion of your home -- a safe room!
How to select your safe room :
- A room in the center of your home.
- A room with small or few windows.
If you live in a multiple-story building away from the water, go to the first or second floors and take refuge in halls or other interior rooms away from windows. Interior stairwells and the areas around elevator shafts generally are the strongest parts of the building.
Remember! Lowest level, smallest room, center part.
Protecting and supplying the safe room:
- If your selected room has windows, you must have some form of window protection.
- Move your water and food supply to your safe room.
- Move your battery-operated radio and flashlights to your safe room.
- Bring important papers
When to go to your safe room:
- When outside conditions worsen.
- When you hear a hurricane warning issued.
- Do not leave the safe room until the all clear is issued on the radio. Don't be fooled by the calm eye of the storm.
Weathering the Storm
You may hear windows break. Do not leave your safe room until the all clear is issued on the radio, even if the weather sounds calm -- you may be in the calm eye of the storm.
Stay away from unprotected windows.
Turn on your battery-operated radio.
Prepare for power outages. Have flashlight ready. When you lose power, turn off the main circuit breaker.