Safe rooms, storm shelters are not the same thing
Sun, 01/12/2014 - 10:41pm Kim McConnell
Secure areas. Safe spaces. Storm shelters. Safe rooms.
While people may use the terms interchangeably, they are not the same thing, at least to the people designing such structures of safety, said architects with Oklahoma City's TAP Architecture, who have discussed those specific details with legislators studying the idea of putting safe rooms in every Oklahoma school.
A safe room is defined by its goal: Near absolute protection against winds of up to 250 mph (in this region), said Mike Patterson and Kenneth Dennis, TAP architects. More specifically, a safe room is a "hardened" structure that provides near absolute protection, a safe harbor and high probability of protection against death and injury, said Michael Sapp, of SAFE Design Group, a Springfield, Mo.-based architectural firm whose members helped Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, analyze Oklahoma's school districts to determine just how many districts have safe rooms in their schools. (The answer: Not as many as you would think).
Patterson said design standards depend on the state in which you live. For most of Oklahoma (all but the western half of the Panhandle), the standard is 250 mph, or the highest wind category. In other words, it is designed to withstand the winds of an EF5 tornado, the highest tornado category and the type that hit Moore in May 2013 and killed seven elementary students when it destroyed their school.