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Why Your Safe Room Must Be Certified

tornado shelters

Her heart was racing as if it were going to explode out of her chest. The roar was deafening akin to standing under Niagara Falls. Chunks of wood and insulation shredded away as the remaining walls around her saferoom disintegrated. Surely the tornado wouldn’t last much longer. Breathing was arduous. The air was literally being sucked right out of her saferoom. Suddenly the roar of the tempest above was succeeded by an immense crashing boom as something slammed into the door, breaking it open. She was now exposed to violence all around her. The howls of the demon scouring the earth that spring evening drowned out her desperate screams for mercy. The remaining moments for this poor Arkansas woman were spent in the bowels of what has been described as a giant blender….full of glass, splintered wood, sheet metal, and everything else made up from the world around us.

After an investigation it was determined her saferoom did not meet FEMA certification specifications and had not been tested and certified. It is believed that debris struck the door causing it to fail and resulted in her fatal injuries. Almost immediately following the incident, questions rose as to how safe are above-ground saferooms.

Tim Marshall, a structural engineer and expert storm chaser examined the failed door and determined the door “was a standard door with cardboard honeycomb interior.” The eF4 rated tornado (winds of 166-200mph) carved out a 42 mile path of destruction through central Arkansas. Fourteen others perished in the storm. While a certified saferoom would perform as designed in such a tornado, this woman’s saferoom failed due to a lack of structural integrity. To be eF5 certified, a saferoom must be able to withstand high speed impacts of flying debris which often includes large pieces of houses and buildings, as well as trees and vehicles.

There has yet to be a single fatality in a certified saferoom and there have been a number of saferooms which have survived violent eF4/eF5 rated tornadoes. This includes 16 saferooms which survived the deadly Moore eF5 tornado on May 20, 2013. Other saferooms survived the deadly Joplin (eF5) and Tuscaloosa (eF4) tornadoes of 2011.

Tornado Place above ground saferooms have been tested and approved eF5 certified by the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University. Our saferooms meet and exceed FEMA standards. We use thicker steel, more rigorous anchoring, better ventilation, and a stronger door. In addition our modular design adds structural integrity with vertical studs making our saferooms even more impact resistant to large debris.

Don’t wait until the next tornado watch to decide on purchasing a saferoom. Install times are quick, and we offer financing with great rates. Even if a saferoom is not an option for you right now, consider creating a plan of action for you and your family so you will know how to stay safe when violent weather strikes.

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