A Homeowners Plan for Sheltering in Place / Safe Rooms is below.
If you’re considering building a home or adding a custom safe room to an existing home or office there may be federal funds available – FEMA guidance is provided below – along with contact information for Remagen Safe Rooms, a U.S.A. based contractor I’ve had personal contact with. Neither is a paid endorsement.
- Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes – Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms This FEMA document from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) references the planning, design, construction, and operation of safe rooms. It presents important information about the design and construction of residential and community safe rooms that will protect people during extreme-wind events such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
- The guidance in FEMA P-361 is intended for architects, engineers, building officials, local officials and emergency managers, and prospective safe room owners and operators.
- Grants, funding opportunities are available for individuals wishing to build a residential safe room. Individual homeowners do not apply directly to FEMA for safe room funding. To find out about potential federal funding for safe rooms, contact your State Emergency Manager and/or State Hazard Mitigation Officer.
- Remagen Safe Rooms designs and manufactures high quality, engineered safe rooms for protection against 250 mph EF-5 tornadoes and armed intruders for new or existing office buildings, schools, factories, manufacturing plants, public safety and government facilities, and residences, as well as anti-terrorist/force protection ballistic and blast mitigation.
A Homeowners Plan for Sheltering in Place / Safe Rooms
Your home is the safest place to be – so when told to shelter in place, stay home, leaving for only the most pressing reasons.
There may be times where you’re instructed to/or need to go to a safe room. That’s a room in your home prepared for specific disasters. A safe room can be any room in the house – preferably a designated bedroom with few or no windows and access to water and a bathroom – thus isolating you and your family in one area of the home during an emergency.
Choosing your safe room
- The best room has a minimum number of windows, or none at all
- Consider the master bedroom where you have access to water, supplies and toilets
- If not your master bedroom – two rooms – like a bedroom with an adjacent bathroom that can be sealed off from the rest of the house
- If you live in tornado alley opt for a first floor or basement location
- If you live in a flood zone, consider a room above flood stage
What supplies to store in your safe room
- Plastic sheeting or Visqueen in sufficient amounts to seal windows, electrical outlets, A/C vents and doorways
- Several rolls of duct tape, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, alcohol
- First aid kit, eye protection, paper filter masks, N95 surgical masks
- Potassium iodide pills (for nuclear risks, such as from power plants)
- If the room has no water supply, store bottled water
- A supply of emergency meals
- Store these supplies in sealed plastic containers in the closet in the room
Depending on the type of emergency you may need to secure your home before you seal your safe room
- Bring in any outdoor pets
- Lock all exterior doors and windows before entering and sealing your safe room
- Turn off all air conditioning/heating units
- Close the fireplace damper, if you have one
- Turn off all ceiling fans
Using your safe room for a weather emergency – it’s most likely usage
- If there’s a severe weather warning or other alert, don’t second-guess the situation – bring in any outdoor pets and go to your safe room
- Get yourselves locked down in the room
- Turn on the radio, locate emergency information, follow any instructions from authorities
- In an emergency phones may not connect, but text messages often get through – send a group text to your preparedness network
- Do not leave the safe room until you hear an ALL CLEAR message or know it’s safe
If the situation is dire – such as CBRN – it requires you seal the room
- Seal floor and ceiling vents from the central air conditioning and heating system using Visqueen or plastic sheeting and duct tape
- If you have wall/window A/C units, turn them off, cover the control face and interior filters with plastic and duct tape
- Seal all windows and doors using plastic sheeting, Visqueen and duct tape – stuff rolled towels at the base of the doors
- Plug/close the drains in sinks and tubs, then fill them partly with water to ensure no air enters
- Use only bottled water, do not use tap water until you verify whether or not a toxin is present
- If you’re using a surgical or N95 face mask leave it in place as much as possible
- If you believe there’s an airborne threat, wipe down your water bottles with disinfectant wipes before you open them
- Drink the entire contents of the water bottle without breaking the seal from your lips, if you do not finish the bottle – cap it and save the remainder for flushing your toilet – pour it in the tank.
- Canned goods and MREs are safe to eat but outside packaging and utensils may be contaminated – wipe down all external food packaging and utensils with disinfectant wipes prior to opening a can or MRE – do all you can to minimize exposure
- Sheltering in place is temporary – focus on the time as temporary
- Hurricanes, tornadoes, and similar natural disasters run their courses quickly
- CBRN events may require longer time sheltering in place
- If you believe you been affected or injured in any way after being told to shelter in place seek medical attention as soon as safely possible – either in person or via Tele-med
- Remember – you can only do your best in any situation, a little preparation is better than none – and it goes a long way