Safe rooms such as the one shown here, can be built into a new home or modified into
an existing home’s space.
A new set of construction guidelines will increase public safety for people evacuated
to storm shelters and those who use safe rooms in their homes during hurricanes and
Ernst Kiesling, professor of civil engineering, was instrumental in creating the
concept of the above ground storm shelter or Safe Room in 1974 and has continually
worked toward shelter quality and standards development.
The International Code Council/National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) Standard
on the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters, recently approved by the American
National Standards Institute as an American National Standard, offers new guidelines
for community shelters and residential safe rooms. It also consolidates previous
references published by NSSA
, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. One feature
of the new standard increases minimum wind resistance requirements in the event of
rare but strong storms.
“This announcement represents a major milestone for the NSSA and for those who have
worked in the storm shelter industry,” said Kiesling.
Now executive director of the NSSA, Kiesling has more than 30 years of experience
in the field documenting debris damage and testing different materials and types
Although there are a variety of products available for homes, Kiesling said, many
shelters are not being designed by engineers or architects who are familiar with
the wind loads present during tornadoes. Kiesling said NSSA members now offer a wide
range of shelter types so that individual preferences and circumstances can be accommodated.
“Good design, construction and installation result in shelters that offer a high
degree of safety at minimum cost,” said Kiesling.
The Wind Science and Engineering Research Center
tests the strength of building materials using a wind cannon that allows simulation
of debris hurled by the most intense tornadoes seen in the United States. Tests have
been performed on dozens of products for an international slate of manufacturers
and organizations including the Portland Cement Association, the Engineered Wood
Association and numerous shelter manufacturers.
The Storm Shelter Standard is expected to be published in September for communities
to adopt. It also will be considered as a referenced standard included in the 2009
International Building and Residential Codes when Code Council holds its Final Action
Code Development Hearings in Minneapolis Sept. 17-23.