Shelters And Safe Rooms For Homes Are Important During Tornado Season

Photo courtesy of University of Missouri Extension

(University of Missouri Extension) The devastation that tornados have created in Missouri and other communities in recent years have caused many people to take a closer look at their vulnerability to natures’ wrath and to make better preparations for surviving future storms.

According to Ken Bolte, agricultural business specialist with University of Missouri Extension, having a shelter or safe room built into or near the home can help protect families from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds.

“All of Missouri is in Wind Zone IV, meaning wind gusts from severe storms can exceed 250 miles per hour,” said Bolte.  “Combining these factors places the entire state at a high risk level that warrants a shelter as the preferred method of protection.”

The shelter or safe room should be free of clutter and readily accessible from all parts of the house.  It must be located in a flood-free area, well-anchored to resist overturning and uplift, and the walls, roof and door should be strong enough to resist penetration by wind-borne missiles.

“Common house construction techniques based on minimum building codes generally don’t provide adequate protection,” said Bolte.

MU Extension’s Storm Shelter and Safe Room Packet include advice on building a shelter or safe room for your home or small business.  It also includes links to online resources, a list of storm shelter manufacturers serving Missouri and a sample blueprint of a storm cellar.  This downloadable, four-page guide is available online at

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a 46-page booklet to help homeowners and builders design and build shelters that will withstand extreme wind speeds.  This booklet, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business includes 18 pages of construction plans and cost estimates.  A free copy can be obtained by calling FEMA toll-free at 1-888-565-3896 or visiting their website at

“Whether you build a shelter or not, two important steps you can take to protect your family are to prepare an emergency plan for dealing with disaster situations and put together an emergency supply kit for home, business and each vehicle,” said Bolte.

More information on emergency preparedness and disaster recovery is available under Emergency management on the MU Extension website,  Let’s develop a plan and a disaster kit and keep our family safe.