Make room for safety

Published April 17, 2005

Prefabricated storm rooms are another way to protect yourself and your family if you are not required to evacuate during a hurricane.

These "safe rooms" can be added to a garage of an existing home, or can be incorporated as part of the design of a new home. Some buyers use these reinforced rooms as wine cellars, master-bedroom closets or vaults for valuables when there are no hurricanes in sight.

Among the choices:

-- The StormRoom with Kevlar from DuPont is said to withstand winds in excess of 250 mph. The walls are a sandwich of plywood, Kevlar sheathing, foam core and plywood that can be finished on the interior with drywall. The room is ventilated and can be plumbed and wired for electricity.

Kevlar is a synthetic fiber of extraordinary strength most often associated with bullet-resistant vests. It also is used in ropes to dock spacecraft and Navy vessels, in gloves, sports equipment, tires and in shrapnel-resistant shielding in jet aircraft engines that protects passengers in case of explosion.

The rooms come in four sizes, with interior dimensions of 4 by 6 feet, 4 by 8, 6 by 8 and 8 by 8. They range from just more than $5,000 to about $9,000.

The rooms come with a steel door whose single-throw latch sends six bolts into a steel frame. The entire unit is fastened to the house's slab with bolts that are epoxied in place, Dupont spokesman Gary Burnett said.

The wall panels deflect a 12-foot, 15-pound 2 by 4 fired from a cannon at 100 mph, Burnett said.

The local distributor is Parksite Plunkett-Webster in Tampa. Call toll-free 1-800-273-4076 or go online to www.stormrooms.dupont.com

-- Remagen SafeRooms can be used as closets or walk-in vaults to store valuables. The interior is made of 8-inch, 20-gauge steel panels. The outer, missile-protection layer is 12-gauge high velocity impact shield steel. The unit is anchored to the slab with concrete anchors and can be wired, air-conditioned and finished on the inside with drywall or other materials. The rooms come in 21 standard sizes. The most popular are 4 feet 6 inches by 7 feet 10 inches, or 7 feet 10 inches square, both with an outside height of 7 feet 8 inches. The StormCloset resists 250-mph winds and a 15-pound 2 by 4 fired at 100 mph, dealer Eddie Sutton said. Prices range from $4,715 to $8,618. The local retailer is Tampa SafeRooms in Seminole, 727 687-7876, or online at www.tampasaferooms.com