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Safe rooms

Building a home safe room provides protection from severe weather and intruders

Article by Joe Harwell

Photography by Michael McRuiz and provided

Originally published in Tulsa City Lifestyle

Safe rooms are above ground metal structures inside a home or garage secured to reinforced concrete, providing a safe haven when your family is threatened by severe weather or intruders. When equipped with a highly secure lock, safe rooms double as a walk in safe to store jewelry, important papers, guns and other valuables. The unique keys can only be duplicated with signature authorization by the owner.

The optimum time to plan a safe room installation is during new home construction or when remodeling. Safe rooms come in standard sizes, 3’ x 5’, 4’ x 6’ and 4’ x 8’, to fit in closets, under stairs or in the garage. They can also be custom built to meet specific customer requirements. In an existing home garage installation, the safe room takes up about as much room as a washer and dryer. Have a garage sale or donate unwanted items to clear a little space. It’s a good tradeoff for the long-term safety and security of your family and increase home value.

With any purchase impacting the value of your home, check the reputation and references of safe room vendors. Get into the details of the quality of material used, how the safe room is put together, installed and meets the industry standard for debris impact testing.

“When comparing cost and specifications, homeowners need to know all safe rooms are not created equally in material quality and manufacturing method,” according to David Tidwell with Tulsa based Southern Saferooms. The company has been manufacturing and installing safe rooms for nine years.

Another significantly important feature is an inward opening door. When severe weather strikes a home causing it to collapse, or have other debris accumulate around the safe room, the door opening inward facilitates egress from the safe room.

When we think of how a metal structure of any size is constructed, welding together precisely cut steel plates comes to mind. Reliability and protection of safe rooms constructed like this rely on quality and thickness of the steel and the welds. Tidwell cautioned, “Welds can lend to the potential for structural failure.”

A superior method is building safe rooms from a continuous sheet of steel, precisely curved to shape the structure. Without corner welds, these safe rooms are not susceptible to collapse or breaking apart under the stress of 200 m.p.h. wind and heavy debris. Any concern for the structural integrity of a safe room protecting you from a violent EF5 tornado negates the purpose of the safe room.

Installing a safe room is a solid investment bringing multiple safety and security benefits for homeowners. For more information on building a safe room, contact Southern Saferooms at 918-584-3371, 1225 East 2nd Street, SouthernSafeRooms.com.

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