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Hurricane Storm Shelters and Safe Rooms

Being prepared for storm season goes beyond buying batteries and stocking up on bottled water - it starts right within your home or business by asking yourself “Where will I be when disaster strikes?” No one likes to imagine the unthinkable, but the facts are clear that global warming is causing natural disasters to occur more frequently, and with increased intensity across the United States than at any time in U.S. history. In Florida, deadly hurricanes and tornados are simply a fact of life.

During a hurricane or tornado, windborne debris ranging from broken building materials to common household items can become deadly flying missiles. Unfortunately, masonry, framing and sheet rock alone are not designed to stop this kind of threat. If a tornado suddenly appears, or a hurricane lands close to home, it is critical to have a safe, close, and secure place that is easily accessed.

Not knowing when or where a tornado may strike makes them especially dangerous. This fact alone can reduce the chances that you will have the time to look around for adequate shelter in the moments a tornado approaches. Windsor and Florence can provide you, your family, and your employees with a secure, sheltered environment that has the protection you will need during these storms, right in your own home or office.

small hurricane, 34448 Homosassa Springs, Hernando County, Florida

Retrofitted Safe Rooms

Retrofitted storm shelter construction involves building a new, free-standing room within an existing room. Often times certain window-less rooms located near the center of the building such as: bathrooms, walk-in storage closets, walk-in pantries, or extra space in the garage can serve more than one purpose and be modified as a secure safe room. This method makes more efficient use of existing space, but will generally result in a small loss of floor, interior wall, and ceiling height space. In many of today’s homes and businesses this slight loss of space will hardly be noticed or missed.

wood safe room in inverness, 34452

This new freestanding safe room will be structurally separate from the surrounding house or building and not be attached to any existing walls or ceiling – it will only be anchored to an adequately poured concrete floor so that even if the surrounding building is destroyed to the foundation, the storm shelter will remain intact - thus offering "Near Absolute Protection" to the occupants. This method involves modifying and making all changes necessary to strengthen an existing room or area of a home or office so that it will provide the required resistance to wind forces, and windborne debris impact according to FEMA 320 (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

small tornado, 34431 Sugar Mill Woods, Citrus County, Florida

Storm Shelter Additions

New additions generally cost slightly more than retrofitting, but if space is tight from the onset, a new addition will give you the flexibility of adding additional square footage for possibly a new bathroom or walk-in closest that is specifically built as a safe room. When undertaking the adventure of altering your existing home or office to construct a safe room, it is often a great time to build just a little more additional space for other living needs as well – a new den, larger kitchen etc. If zoning permits, a garage addition, or carport will also be an ideal location for a safe room.

concrete safe room in citrus hills, 34453

A stand alone storm shelter can also be built most anywhere on your property that your local building department zoning ordinances or community covenants allows. Stand alone shelters require that you, your family, or your employees exit your home or workplace to reach the shelter, and for this reason it is recommended that the shelter be built at a safe distance.

Often times on stand alone additions, the shelter is designed with a short hallway between it and the main structure. This hallway is designed to break away should the rest of the building be destroyed by a storm. This offers additional protection for the occupants moving into the shelter.

Existing Roof, Door and Window Openings

In addition to building storm shelters for your personal safety, there are several improvements that will help your building to minimize the effects of tropical storms. Common modifications include reinforcing gabled roofs, applying additional adhesives to roof shingles, installing hurricane straps and clips to ensure the roof stays in place despite high winds. Hurricane resistant shutters, as well as impact resistant glass may help keep windows closed from driving rain, despite flying debris.

Reinforcing garage doors and entry doors is also a common practice when preparing a home for potential hurricane force winds. Garage doors may be protected by fabric screens, made of a strong woven fabric, to keep out projectiles and to reinforce the door.

The goal of these mitigation measures is to decrease the likelihood of severe damage to your home or building. There is no guarantee that these measures will safeguard your building against a storm and the projectiles that they bring, but a well-protected building is far more likely to come through a hurricane in better shape than one that has little or no protection.

Windsor and Florence Management, LLC | P.O. Box 1454 | Inverness, FL 34451 | 352-419-9710

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