FLASH Encourages Families to Give an Ordinary Room an Extraordinary Purpose to Protect from Deadly Night-Falling Tornadoes

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New resource shows families, builders and emergency responders how they can “Give an Ordinary Room An Extraordinary Purpose” by building or retrofitting bathrooms, closets, wine cellars or other rooms with a tornado safe room in mind.

We created www.highwindsaferooms.org to give families, builders and others a better idea of what an appropriately built safe room is and how to go about building one.

The severe weather outbreak this week reminds us that southeastern states have a deadly track record with night-falling tornadoes. Between 1998 and 2007, six of the most deadly nocturnal tornadoes happened during the winter months in southern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Following a consumer attitude research project in 2010, and joint work with FEMA and others, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. -- FLASH is now providing families with a new, free online tool to help protect against death and injury from deadly tornados anywhere in the U.S.

The new site, http://www.highwindsaferooms.org, urges families, builders and emergency responders to “Give an Ordinary Room an Extraordinary Purpose” by building or retrofitting bathrooms, closets, wine cellars or other rooms with a tornado safe room in mind. Site features include a cost calculator, animation and a rich array of links to important safety and structural details. These rooms become more important in the southeast where night-falling tornadoes are more prevalent and the shorter warning times make it even more necessary to have a safe room nearby.

“We wanted to make sure families had the resources to fully consider their options for including a safe room into their home,” said FLASH President/CEO Leslie C. Henderson. “We created http://www.highwindsaferooms.org to give families, builders and others a better idea of what an appropriately built safe room is and how to go about building one. This week’s severe weather is just another reminder on how important safe rooms are to a family’s safety and well-being.”

As this week’s storm system works its way across the south, warmer air mixing with the cooler air behind the dipping jet stream is combining to produce severe thunderstorms including damaging winds and possible tornadoes to the region. Night-falling tornadoes, more prevalent in the Southeast than other parts of the country, are more deadly because of the difficulty of warning at night, the more vulnerable structures occupied at night, the higher concentration of mobile homes and manufactured housing in the Southeast and the aging population.

“We know that having a nearby, safe space where a family can ride out a tornado can mean the difference between life and death,” said Henderson. “We use our closets and bathrooms every day, but one that is also designed to serve as a high-wind safe room is not just useful it can literally save your life if disaster strikes.”

Tornado safe rooms, or shelters, built using the International Code Council/National Storm Shelter Association 500 standard or FEMA 320/361 guidance can provide the ultimate life safety protection from severe winds. If families are in the planning stages of a new build or renovation project of an appropriate room such as an interior bathroom or walk-in closet, it is a perfect time to consider the installation of a tornado safe room.

The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. – FLASH® is a 501(c)3 collaboration of organizations dedicated to strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disaster. Based in Tallahassee, FLASH is the nation's fastest‐growing disaster safety education organization with more than 100 partners including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Division of Emergency Management, The Home Depot, International Code Council, National Weather Service, Renaissance Reinsurance, Simpson Strong‐Tie, State Farm, USAA and WeatherPredict Consulting, Inc. In 2008, FLASH opened the interactive weather experience; StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes®. To learn more about FLASH and access their free consumer resources, visit http://www.flash.org

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Zoe Boyer
Federal Alliance For Safe Homes
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