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"Safe-rooms" help protect your family in tornados

"The safe room can provide protection against winds up to 250 miles per hour and projectiles traveling at 100 miles an hour."

While there's nothing you can do to fully "tornado-proof" your home, you can build a "safe room" to protect you and your family from high winds and flying debris. Now the federal government has put plans for such a room online.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides the construction plans, along with a 25-page illustrated booklet, called Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House. In it, you'll find information on materials, designs for several types of rooms, and construction cost estimates.

"Regardless of where you build your safe room in your house, the walls and ceilings must be built so that they will protect you from missiles and falling debris, and remain standing if your house is severely damaged," says FEMA Director James Witt. "When constructed according to the plans, the safe room can provide protection against winds up to 250 miles per hour and projectiles traveling at 100 miles an hour."

You can find the information by visiting the FEMA Tornado Safe Room page or by calling toll-free: (888) 565-3896. A kids friendly web page from FEMA is available by following this link.

The design plans draw on 25 years of research done by the Wind Engineering Research Center of Texas Tech University. Fieldwork done by the center includes studies of real-life building performance following dozens of tornadoes throughout the United States, as well as laboratory tests of building materials and systems when they are hit by airborne debris.

The safe-room designs are part of Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities, which is "an ongoing initiative to encourage people to take measures to protect themselves and their property before disasters occur."

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