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7 Tornado-Safe Room Design Ideas that are Seriously Cool

Does your heart start galloping at the thought of a tornado? Can’t blame you — these bad boys of nature are fast, heartless, and devastating. How do you stand up to one of nature’s most destructive forces? Building a safe room or installing a modular storm shelter is one of the few defenses against a tornado, and outbursts of violent storms over the past few years have made busy times for shelter manufacturers. If you’re thinking of adding a storm shelter, keep these ideas in mind.

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Gimme Shelter

If you live in a tornado-prone area, a storm shelter or safe room is a smart investment. A pre-fabricated fiberglass shelter is designed for underground installation, accessible by an above-ground hatch. Prices for a fiberglass shelter with seating for four adults range from $2,500 to $10,000, installed.


Credit: Integrity storm shelters

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  • An interior safe room is all that’s left of this Oklahoma farmstead after a devastating tornado destroyed the surrounding house. If built to the standards of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an interior safe room will withstand tornado-force winds and flying debris.


    Credit: Win Anderson/FEMA

  • A storm shelter is designed to withstand destructive wind forces, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like a concrete blob. A decorative door, stone veneer, and a scattering of potted plants makes this outdoor storm shelter part of the landscape.


    Credit: Missouri Storm Shelters, Inc.

  • Shelters built underground are the safest, but heads-up on these factoids: 1) soils that freeze in winter put stresses on concrete walls; 2) high water tables may flood your shelter; 3) it’ll be expensive to prepare a site if there’s solid bedrock. Uncertain? Consult a soil expert by searching for “geotechnical engineering” in your area.


    Credit: peggydavis66/Flickr

  • Doors and door hardware for your tornado storm shelter, such as this interior safe room, should meet the criteria set by FEMA. The agency doesn’t certify products, but manufacturers should be able to verify that their doors and hardware have been tested to meet FEMA standards, including steel skins and multiple deadbolts.


    Credit: StormBlocker®

  • You won’t be holding any rodeos inside this diminutive shelter, but if there’s an EF-4 nearby, we’re guessing you won’t care. Certified by the National Storm Shelter Association, this 3-by-6-foot enclosure must be bolted to a 4-inch-thick concrete floor. It’s simple design makes it a good DIY project. It costs about $3,350.


    Credit: The Perfect Storm Shelter

  • If a tornado is imminent, you’ll want to hunker down, fast. This small, dome-shaped shelter fits in many easily accessible spaces, such as a garage. The all-steel construction resists extreme winds, hurled debris, even bullets! It must be bolted to a steel-reinforced, concrete slab.


    Credit: NewDayTornadoShelters.com

  • If you live in a tornado-prone area, a storm shelter or safe room is a smart investment. A pre-fabricated fiberglass shelter is designed for underground installation, accessible by an above-ground hatch. Prices for a fiberglass shelter with seating for four adults range from $2,500 to $10,000, installed.


    Credit: Integrity storm shelters

  • Looking like a simple storage shed, this stout above-ground shelter is made of pre-cast concrete panels covered with stucco. The doors of most residential shelters can be taken off from the inside, just in case there’s debris piled against the outside.


    Credit: Safe Sheds

  • Building an interior storm shelter is easiest during new construction. No matter what type of construction materials are used, the unit must be bolted to a concrete slab. The cost to build an interior storm shelter is $6,000 to $15,000, depending on the size, location, and door style.

    Credit: Portland Cement Association

  • Certain states in high-risk areas will provide funding support for the construction of individual and community tornado shelters. Mississippi, for example, reimburses up to 75% of the cost of constructing a tornado shelter that’s built to FEMA standards. The funding is partially supported by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Program.


    Credit: Cozy Caverns Storm Shelters

  • If you like these, you may want to take a spin through HouseLogic’s library of slideshows.

    How to Protect Your Home from Storms

  • Still Standing
  • Safe and Sweet
  • The Well-Grounded Safe Room
  • Strong, Silent Types
  • Small but Sturdy
  • Get in Here — Now!
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Part of the Neighborhood
  • Tough-as-Nails Interior Design
  • Funding for Shelters
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