Tornado Safe Room Under Stairs: How To Reinforce

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If you live in a tornado prone area, you are probably aware of how crucial it is have a tornado safe room to weather the disaster. Considering over 1,200 tornadoes affect the United States annually with wind speeds of 200+ mph, ensuring that your safe room built under stairs can withstand flying debris and other hazards is paramount to your disaster preparedness, keeping your family safe from harm.

If you don’t have a complete tornado proof home, then you should at least have a storm shelter. One material that can withstand the force of tornadoes and create the perfect safe room is insulated concrete forms, or ICFs. 

Why ICFs Are The Perfect Material for Reinforcing a Tornado Safe Room

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) highly recommends a tornado safe room is built according to FEMA guidelines. These guidelines cite a number of criteria that vastly impacts the choice of material that you use for building a tornado safe room under stairs, particularly whether the material:

    • has adequate impact resistance, being able to withstand the impact of a 15-pound 2-inch X 4-inch shot at 67 mph – 100 mph
    • is designed for a continuous load path, holding the roof, walls, and foundation of a safe room together during a powerful wind event 
    • has resistance to windborne debris, overturning, and uplift
  • and other such requirements.

To achieve these qualities, the design and construction of residential safe rooms must follow the guidelines described in FEMA P-320 and FEMA 361. More stringent guidelines from the International Building Code developed by the International Code Council (ICC), such as ICC-500 and ICC-500, also point towards materials that provides these qualities found in the innate qualities of ICFs for providing occupants of small businesses or homes the best possible safety against fast-flying debris and high winds (up to 250 mph) during a tornado event. When a safe room is designed with ICFs, your icf tornado safe room will be built with industry-standard safety requirements that meets and exceeds the aforementioned criteria.  

What’s interesting to note about ICFs is that in the wake of a tornado, most structures built with ICFs remain while those without—especially wood-frame structures and mobile homes—are typically destroyed. If your home is in need of being reinforced with ICFs, be sure to consult the aforementioned guidelines set out by FEMA and the ICC, among many others, to provide your tornado safe room with the best possible protection against one of Mother Nature’s most destructive forces.

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