Before the Event
If you plan to stay at home during a hurricane, identify the safest room in your home as your "Safe Room." This is generally an interior room on the first floor with no windows, such as a bathroom or closet. If you have the option, your "safe room" should not be in an area subject to flooding. Having a designated "safe room" in your home can help you protect your family from the dangerous forces of extreme winds. It can also relieve some of the anxiety created by the threat of an oncoming tornado or hurricane. A safe room should have access to running water, a toilet and at least 10 square feet per person.
A safe room can be built or installed anywhere in a house, but it must be a "room within a room." That means, it's walls, ceiling, and floor must be structurally separate from the rest of the house, so that even if the surrounding house is destroyed, the safe room will remain intact.
Possible Locations for A Safe Room
Closets, bathrooms (the best choice), storage or utility rooms and garages with only one door and no windows are well suited for use as "safe rooms." Your "safe room" should be readily accessible from all parts of your house. Interior bathrooms have the added advantage of having a water supply and toilet. A space selected as your "safe room" should be free of clutter for quick and easy entry, so occupants will not be injured by falling objects. If a safe room is built outside, it should be made of concrete or concrete masonry.
Building a Reinforced Safe Room in Existing Home
Please note: Safe rooms are not recommended to be built in evacuation zones because they would not protect against rising water.
- Install a wood-frame shelter, which can be created from an existing room or built as a new room in an open area. If modifying an existing room with wood framed walls, those walls must be removed and replaced with walls and ceiling resistant to extreme winds and flying debris.
- A safe room must be structurally isolated from the main structure of your home.
- The height of the room should not exceed 8 feet to ensure its ceiling is not attached to an existing ceiling.
- Attach two layers of plywood or steel sheathing to ceiling and walls.
- Assemble ceiling using 2-foot-by-6-foot joints attached to a stud wall.
- Be sure to install a ventilation pipe.
- Install a Miami-Dade County approved steel door to resist the impact of flying debris.
- Safe rooms must be securely anchored to the foundation.
- Check existing anchor bolts for spacing and connection. If necessary, additional anchors should be installed.
- Place hurricane straps at each ceiling joists and bottom plates, and fastened to studs with nails.
- After the room is complete, interior and exterior finish (drywall) are reinstalled to walls and ceilings.
Updated April 2013