Friday, October 21, 2011

Building A Safe Room Saves Lives

Release Date: June 2, 2011
Release Number: 1979-025

» More Information on Tennessee Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line Winds, and Flooding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --The tornadoes and high winds that have caused so many deaths this year make it all too obvious why a "safe room" is a good idea. Although a home may be built “to code,” that does not mean it can withstand the forces from extreme weather events. A safe room is a refuge that can save lives.

You can build a safe room in one of several places in your home:

  • Your basement.
  • Atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor.
  • An interior room on the first floor.

Safe rooms built below ground level offer the best protection, but a safe room built in a first-floor interior room can also provide the necessary safeguards. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to avoid taking in water during the heavy rains or high water tables that often accompany windstorms.

Here are some considerations when building a safe room:

  • The safe room must be adequately anchored to resist overturning and uplift.
  • The walls, ceiling, and door of the shelter must withstand wind pressure and resist penetration by windborne objects and falling debris.
  • The connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough to resist the wind.
  • Sections of either interior or exterior residence walls that are used as walls of the safe room must be separated from the structure of the residence so that damage to the residence will not cause damage to the safe room.

For more information on building a safe room, visit the FEMA website at For FEMA P-320 book “Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business,” call 800-480-2520.

A safe room may be built into new housing or added inside or outside to existing structures. For more information on safe rooms, go to

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies Makes Sense.

Pets Instructional Video

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If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.
If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.