Tornadoes: Safe Rooms

Material provided by Federal Alliance for Safe Homes



A safe room can provide the ultimate in life safety protection for you and your family from the dangerous forces of severe winds and tornadoes. You may not have the time to seek shelter outside your own home.

 Consider the following information for building or installing a safe room in your home:  

 Issues critical to performance include:  

Site-built safe rooms can be constructed in accordance with the prescriptive designs of the FEMA 320 Publication, Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room For Your Home. These safe rooms are designed to provide near-absolute protection for you, your family or employees from the extreme winds expected during tornadoes and hurricanes and from flying debris that tornadoes and hurricanes usually generate. The safe room designs presented in this publication meet or exceed all tornado and hurricane design criteria of the ICC/NSSA 500 for both the tornado and hurricane hazards. 

Deviations from FEMA 320 and ICC/NSSA 500 must be tested at an approved laboratory such as the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University.  

Verification of compliance with National Storm Shelter Association's Association Standard provides the highest level of shelter quality. The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) developed the industry standard and the process for quality verification, both available on the web at

Estimated Costs

Costs for construction vary across the United States. The cost for constructing a safe room inside a new house, which can double as a master closet, bathroom or utility room, is between $2,500 and $6,000 depending on the type of foundation on which your house is built and the size and location of the shelter.