We found these questions about Safe Rooms at fema.gov and wanted to share the answers with you

1.Where Can I Find Doors And Hardware For My Safe Room?

Tested door assemblies are typically not available off the shelf in most home improvement stores but can be purchased through commercial building product suppliers or safe room/storm shelter component suppliers, like BBB Storm Shelters of NWA. Texas Tech University’s testing facility and Underwriters Laboratories maintain lists of safe room doors (product names and suppliers) that have passed testing.
For more information on testing protocol and a list of safe room products that have passed testing visit Texas Tech University.
Download the UL Online Certification Directory. After linking, enter ‘zhla’ in the UL Category field and ‘ICC 500’ in the Keyword field for safe-room-tested products.
Helpful information on safe room doors can also be found in the Residential Tornado Safe Room Doors Fact Sheet on FEMA’s website.

2.Should The Door Of A Safe Room Swing Inward Or Outward?

A common misconception about safe room doors is that they must swing in a particular direction – inward or outward. According to ICC-500, the pressure testing on a door must be conducted away from the door stop, meaning that the door is pressure-tested in the weakest condition regardless of being in-swinging or out-swinging. Additionally, a door must undergo the missile impact resistance testing in the configuration that will be used for installation.

Beyond code requirements, both inward- and outward-swinging doors have benefits. For example, inward-swinging doors are less likely to be blocked by debris, while outward-swinging doors provide more space within the safe room.

In some states or communities, the applicable building code may require that doors swing in a particular direction. For information on code requirements for your jurisdiction, contact a local building official or licensed design professional in your area.

3.How Should I Prepare For the Possibility Of A Safe Room Door’s Becoming Blocked By Debris After A Tornado Event?

An emergency supply kit should be kept within the safe room. FEMA P-320 provides guidance on the emergency supply kit, including a checklist of suggested items, in Section 4.4. The kit can include tools to open damaged doors, such as a crowbar, jack or spreader.

An important part of any emergency plan for a safe room should include notifying local emergency managers, first responders (local fire stations) and family members or others. This should be done by registering the precise coordinates (latitude and longitude) of the safe room’s entrance with your local officials. (Note that this should be done as soon as the safe room is constructed – not as an extreme wind event approaches). This will allow emergency personnel to find and quickly free you after a storm if your safe room’s exit becomes blocked by debris.

4.Can Locking Devices Be Installed On Safe Room Door Handles?

According to FEMA P-361, the egress doors of the safe room should be operable from the inside without the use of keys or special knowledge or effort. Furthermore, model building codes and life-safety codes often include strict requirements for securing doors in public areas (areas with assembly classifications). These codes often require panic bar hardware, single-release mechanisms or other hardware requirements. For example, the 2015 IBC and the NFPA life-safety codes require panic bar hardware on doors with a lock or latch for assembly and educational occupancies of 50 persons or more. A design professional will need to establish which door hardware is required and which hardware is permitted. In all cases, a detailed operations and communication plan should be developed. The operation and communication plan should clearly identify who is responsible for unlocking and securing the safe room before and after an event, describe the critical operations plans and provide backup plans in case the people in charge of those duties are unavailable.

We want to thank FEMA for providing these common Q & A for us today. If you need additional information, please contact the FEMA Safe Room Helpline by email at saferoom@fema.dhs.gov or by calling 866-927-2104.

Looking for more local information and how to choose the right storm shelter/safe room for you, your family and pets, look no further than BBB Storm Shelters.
Our experienced, knowledgeable, and professional staff will inspect your home and provide you with the right solution for you.

Jon Jouvenaux

Author Jon Jouvenaux

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