What Is a Safe Room For a Tornado?


Tornadoes are extremely powerful natural phenomena. They are violent and unpredictable, and often contain as much energy as a a nuclear explosion.

A safe room for a tornado is one that offers protection from the strong winds and debris carried by the tornado while also protecting you from any potential falling objects. In the event of a tornado, head to the innermost room of your house. It is your job to prepare this room for such a situation by making it tornado proof.

While not all rooms in your home will be safe, there are certain things you can do to make your home tornado proof. This will give you a stronger assurance of safety in the event of one of these ferocious weather phenomena. This article will show you the best ways to make various rooms in your home tornado-proof.

How to make your windows tornado-proof

Some people believe that if you keep your windows open in a tornado the destruction will be minimal as the winds will pass through. This, however, is just a myth.

The chaos is not caused by the speed of the wind only but also the debris swept along with it. Opening windows will therefore only let in more debris that may be dangerous to you.

The only way you can make your house completely tornado-proof is if you lived in a concrete house with steel doors and no windows. However, this is obviously not a practical solution. Windows are required to let natural light in and also for aeration of the apartment.

However, in the event of a tornado, windows pose the highest liability in your apartment. This is the weakest link in your apartment’s structural integrity. In the event of a tornado with high-speed winds, they would falter easily giving way to the winds that are sure to wreak havoc in your apartment.

If a tornado warning has been issued in your locale, you need to act quickly. This is because the threat of a tornado is imminent. To prevent windows from giving way, you need to make them tornado proof. Here’s how to do that:

  •  Take measurements of all windows in your apartment and visit your local hardware store with these measurements.
  • Procure plywood matching all the measurements. If plywood is not available, strengthened plastic sheets may work as well.
  • Make sure to board the windows from the outside. Use reinforced nails to make sure the plywood can withstand the gale-force winds. Boarding the windows from the inside is extremely dangerous as the glass may give way and pry open the boards. This will only add to the number of debris flying in your house.

If you live in an area frequented by tornados, then you need to install impact-resistant windows. While other debris in the tornado is dangerous, glass debris is extremely dangerous as it can cause serious deep tissue injuries. Impact-resistant windows can prevent this from happening as they do not shatter on impact.

While this type of glass is more expensive than normal glass, it pays for itself by being extremely safe. If impact-resistant glass is unavailable, install storm shutters instead.

Storm shutters are installed outside your windows. They are customizable and made from strong material such as steel. They can also be deployed at a moment’s notice as compared to boarding up windows with plywood.

How to make your doors tornado-proof

Doors are also an entryway for the extreme winds in a tornado. If not secured properly, they can easily give way. This includes doors not only to the outside of your apartment but, once the main door is breached, inside room doors as well.

  • If you live in an area prone to frequent occurrences of tornados, consider getting steel doors as opposed to wood. These doors have been tested to withstand winds of high speed and debris hurled at them without giving way.
  • If this is unavailable, then ensure you secure all doors with deadbolt locks preferably two inches long.
  • The door should also have three hinges as compared to two. This is to reinforce its structural integrity in the face of high-speed winds and debris.
  • Ensure the hinges are safely secure to the walls of the apartment. This is because while the doors may be strong, if not hinged properly, they could be blown off. Keep in mind that the winds from a tornado are similar to those experienced in a blast. Drill into the wall and secure with much stronger items than normal framing nails. You can do this by yourself or hire a professional to install it for you.

Strong doors will not only keep you safe from the tornado but may also be an added form of security afterward.

How to make your apartment safe in a tornado

  • Gather all forms of potential debris-causing material and store appropriately.
  • Secure furniture to the floor. This can be done by nailing them down but do so carefully to avoid damaging them.
  • Lock small movable items securely in cabinets.
  • If you have utensils made of glass, put the same away in cabinets. You can also lock up your electronics to ensure they are not blown away should the winds breach your apartment.
  • If possible, get a safe. Should the winds breach your apartment; the amount of chaos caused will be insurmountable. With a safe, you may be able to store valuable documents and pieces of jewelry that may get lost in the aftermath of the tornado. Ensure the safe is kept in a place free from wind preferably the interior of your apartment.
  • Make sure your cabinets are properly hinged to the wall. You can do this by drilling into the wall and attaching the cabinets firmly with strong nails.
  • Ensure ovens and other movable items such as the refrigerator and microwave are anchored strongly to the floor. This will prevent them from being swept away by the winds.
  • Disconnect all items from the electricity supply and shut off gas mains. This is to prevent the outbreak of a fire in the aftermath of the tornado.

Safest room to be in during a tornado

Having secured the entire apartment from the worst to come, you should find the safest room you will hide in. The most preferred room is one with minimal items. This is to minimize the chances of debris collision. The room should also have the least amount of windows.

In your apartment, this should be the most interior part. In most house designs, this tends to be the bathroom. Most are designed with only a small window and may not have many items. Regardless, you should empty from the room all items not secured to the floor.

Ensure the bathroom doors can withstand the wind pressure. This will be done through techniques already advised above. Once secured, close yourself inside and brace for the tornado while hoping for the best.

If you have a bathtub, enter into it and cover yourself with thick clothing. Bathtubs tend to be directly fixed on the floor and can withstand the impact of the winds. The thick clothing will then prevent debris from directly hitting you.

Ensure you also have supplies to last you even after the tornado as local stores and restaurants may be shut down for longer periods before normalcy resumes. Such supplies include battery-powered items for communication in case of power outages, adequate water supply, and non-perishable foods.

If there is still time to move out of the apartment, ensure it is securely locked and head lower down the apartment preferably to the basement. This is because, in the basement, the wind is virtually obstructed from all angles. Its strength and speed will be diminished greatly. It will, therefore, be hard for debris to be stirred up.

Ensure though that the basement doors are heavily reinforced to withstand the impact of the wind’s assault. If you have time you should carry your supplies here and wait out the tornado. Items such as a flashlight will be essential to ensure you don’t bump into stuff while in the basement and end up hurting yourself.

Final thoughts

Being in a tornado can be a terrifying experience but if you are well prepared, you can live through it and emerge the other end safely. Therefore tornado-proof your house and carry out regular maintenance of these reinforcements. This is especially after tornado outbreaks that may have weakened them. Keep your morale up knowing that even the worst of storms and tornados do eventually ebb way and the sun will come out to play.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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