Before delving into the specifics of a hurricane shelter, it is crucial to note that some situations and areas are not suited to such structures, for example, any site with known flood risk. If you call your local emergency management office and find that flooding poses no threat, it is time to get your plans together for your hurricane shelter, which can be either stand-alone or in-residence.
Stand-Alone Structure Costs and Essentials
When constructing a hurricane structure, you want to build something strong, stable, and secure — heft works too. In most cases, the frame is made with welded together steel panels secured to a concrete foundation. Essentially, you are designing a large steel box to sit near your home. According to some experts, a hurricane shelter built to FEMA specifications can cost upwards of $5,000.
Steel is not the only option when designing a hurricane shelter. If you would prefer, a shelter can be built of fortified concrete, insulated concrete forms, or fortified masonry blocks. Additionally, you can order a prefab shelter or request a site-built structure. Regardless of the materials and type of external shelter, you should hire a professional to design and build it.
Size Requirements for a Hurricane Shelter
The cost of your hurricane shelter will depend significantly on the size of the structure, and the size of the structure will depend on the number of people you expect to protect inside. According to FEMA, a hurricane shelter should have a minimum space per person of 10 square feet. However, if you shelter bedridden or sick people, you will need to increase that number to 30 square feet. Therefore, a family of five might need a shelter between 50 and 150 square feet in size. A sick individual does not have to be physically ill; they might suffer from a psychological condition. In any case, you will need a shelter that provides between 10 and 30 square feet per person.
In-Residence Hurricane Safe Rooms
Unlike exterior shelters, a hurricane safe room is within the house. The room is windowless and protects from external projectiles and other dangers with fortified walls. These types of rooms do not have to be original to the structure. You can add a safe room by fortifying existing walls with steel, concrete, or even plywood for an economical choice. The primary requirement is that each structure element — walls, ceiling, and foundation — are adequately fastened together, creating a united and fortified structure within the home.
There are two distinct advantages to building an in-residence shelter instead of an external stand-alone one: access and cost. When an emergency occurs, would you rather go down a flight of stairs to your shelter or run across your yard, bracing against high winds? An interior shelter is easier and often safer to access than external rooms. Additionally, a simple lean-to structure in your home’s basement is only going to cost about $2,000. If you want something more involved, you can plan a full-scale room into the house design for $3,000 to $6,000.
Preparing Your Safe Room for Disaster
Depending on how long you need to be in your safe room, you should stock up on essentials. While an empty safe room or shelter is fine for quick passing severe weather, like tornadoes, a hurricane can berate a cost for days. Stocking your room is up to you, but it is wise to have a supply of fresh water, non-perishable food, and medications, just in case.
What kind of safe room will you build? Leave a comment.