FEMA Tornado Safe rooms ARE safe

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By Mark Bogner

One of the good things about writing somewhat controversial blogs is that it gives me a chance to hear from those that disagree with me and those that agree with me. As they say in the NFL, “after further review” I have to yield this one to the engineers that design the tornado safe rooms. I was mis-informed that they were only rated “up to EF4” when, in fact, they are rated up to 250 mph winds which is well into the high end of the EF5 category. This would put them as the SAFEST place to be in a tornado, well north of 99%. That is better than your basement at home. I would still like to see them build them below ground, but perhaps the increased cost would not offset the infinitesimally small chance of a tornado with winds greater than 250 miles striking.

So, I beg you, if your child goes to a school where there is a FEMA tornado-safe room, DO NOT go pick them up from school when there is a threat of bad weather. Their chance of survival there is MUCH higher than it is with you just about anywhere. If your community is blessed with a public building that HAS a FEMA tornado-safe room, go there if possible during the threat of a tornado.


Finally, in deference to be fair to all sides, I did hear privately from a contractor who has built some of the rooms that has serious reservations about whether there is enough rebar, whether the right kind of cement is being used, whether it is being allowed to cure properly or whether the corners are being secured enough, but that is a fight as old as time between contractors and engineers that I will not get in the middle of. My dad was a contractor and my grandfather was an engineer, so I know and respect both sides.

As usual, I welcome any feedback, positive or negative! In the meantime, be safe in this year’s storm season!

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