Family Survives Storm in Safe Room

Family Survives Storm in Safe Room (Image 1)

Severe Weather Strikes…the safety advice is pretty much the same.  Get to the lowest floor, interior room, bathroom or closet.  But obviously, a safe room is ideal. 

This turned out to be true again for an Arkansas family.  One Vilonia family escaped Sunday’s tornado without injury even as a home was blown apart around them. 

Nicky Havens says he first sent his children to his in-laws’ home across the street because they had a small, metal safe room installed in the garage.  Then he and his wife joined them as a massive tornado moved into the area. 

“We seen it coming and we heard it coming, so we got in the safe room,” he said. “It beat it pretty bad, but it worked. I’m proud of it.”

Unfortunately, the house didn’t fare as well.  The roof was ripped off.  Strong winds downed its walls.  Splintered wood and crumbled brick was tossed around the yard. 

As the storm hit, the family hunkered down in the safe room.  They say they didn’t talk and their hearts were thumping.

“It felt like [the room] was just going to take off at any time,” he said. “We knew the house was gone. You could hear it just take off.”

By today, the family was trying to salvage what items they could.  They said it was difficult to see the damage. 

 “But, hey, we’re glad to be alive,” he said said outside his nearby home, which was damaged but not destroyed.

Not everyone was so lucky, even those with safe rooms. Among the at least 14 people who died in the storm was a woman who was in a safe room, Gov. Mike Beebe told reporters.

“The house is gone, the safe room is still there, but she died in the safe room when debris hit the door to the safe room,” he said. “She was doing everything she knew how to do. And still she lost her life.”

A typical safe room costs between $2500 and $5000.

The best place for a safe room is in the basement. If that’s not possible, it should be in the interior of your home’s first floor. If you are unable to add a safe room within the confines of your house, build a separate room that is easily accessible from the house. A safe room’s requirements:

• There should be no windows.

• The room should not be in a flood zone or storm surge zone.

• The walls, ceiling, and door should be able to withstand winds of up to 250 miles per hour, flying debris, and wind borne objects.

• The connections between all parts of the room should be strong enough to resist wind.

• The door should open inward to ensure easy opening after the storm in case fallen debris blocks the outside.

• The room should be anchored securely to a concrete foundation to resist overturning or uplifting.

• Sections of either interior or exterior home walls that are used as walls of the safe room must be separated from the structure of the home so that damage to the residence will not damage the safe room.

(sources:  Gavin Lesnick of Arkansas Online & Reader’s Digest)

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