Protect Yourself and Others with Quality Safety Storm Shelters
The severity of hurricanes and tornadoes in North America in recent years seems to have increased. Although storms vary in number, size, and intensity, continuing construction is occupying more land surface and raising the likelihood of a direct hit on a portion of the population.
According to many scientists, the advance of global warming is increasing the potential for more storms with higher intensity in the latter half of the 21st Century.
Here are some conclusions from recent studies by the Geophysical Dynamic Fluids Laboratory:
- As sea levels rise, we can expect higher storm surge levels.
- The proportion of tropical storms that will reach Categories 4 and 5 will increase.
- Tropical storm activity will increase by 1% to 10% for each 2°C global temperature increase.
- Rainfall within storms will increase as a result of rising global temperatures.
While hurricanes and tornadoes occur in nearly every region of the United States, they are more prevalent in certain areas. The Southeastern section of the United States experiences the severe hurricanes that originate in the Atlantic Ocean. And, a wide swath of land through the midsection of the country, often known as Tornado Alley, experiences hundreds of tornadoes per year, many causing severe damage to lives and property.
Protection from Violent Storms
Conventional wisdom has advised that occupants should seek shelter in an enclosed basement or underground shelter during a violent storm. In many instances, these are not immediately available nor are they always adequate. Some homeowners do not have an underground shelter or basement because they are over high water tables, rocky soil that made digging expensive, or they chose to avoid the additional cost.
Similarly, trailers and mobile homes are vulnerable to high winds. Positioning a safety storm room here is essential. Residents should request, or even demand, that the owner construct a suitable safety storm shelter for resident protection.
Whatever the reason, many residents are vulnerable in tornado or hurricane wind conditions that cause above-ground, wood or metal-framed structures to collapse.
Creating quality safety storm shelters is becoming very popular in those areas with high storm potential and where residents who are most vulnerable. Safety storm shelters are usually reinforced with concrete and steel in the walls and ceilings to sustain the pressures of the storm and withstand the impact of structural collapse and flying objects.
Some of these are:
- Underground shelters may be pre-built and installed in a yard or beneath a garage. Because of their subterranean position, these shelters will not be affected by extreme winds and flying objects.
- Within the home or office, built-in shelters are reinforced with wood, steel, and concrete and can take on the appearance of a bank vault. However, these can be designed with tornado-resistant glass block to blend aesthetically with the rest of the interior while providing maximum protection. Many newer homes are being built with safety storm shelters within.
- Prebuilt shelters can be fitted within or placed adjacent to the home or office. The critical element is to allow for easy and prompt access in case of an unexpected storm or tornado.
Communities and employers are also adding safe rooms to protect residents and employees by following the specific guidelines established by FEMA to resist the most powerful storms.
Making the Space Useable
A safety storm shelter in a home or office does not need to be a stark, barren room that is only used during 100+ mph storm events. Some may be used as a small study, office, or perhaps a playroom. Of course, for these spaces to afford a comforting ambiance for these alternative uses, they must have light, ideally natural light. The best solution is to incorporate glass block manufactured to withstand hurricane and tornado forces as effectively as a concrete block wall.
FEMA’s Guideline 361 specifies the required strength for blast-resistant glass in safety storm shelters. LightWise Hurricane and Tornado-Resistant Glass Block products from GBA Architectural Products + Services meet FEMA-required strength capability while withstanding hurricane and tornado forces and still admitting light into the safety storm shelter. Partnering with the world-class producer of the highest quality glass block products, Seves, GBA can provide LightWise glass block products tailored for any application.
GBA Architectural Products + Services
GBA Architectural Products & Services is a North American supplier of world-class glass block materials for interior and exterior applications. For over 30 years, the company has collaborated with professional builders and homeowners with many unique structural glass products that render beautiful and economical functionality in a broad range of scenarios.
GBA glass block products have been used in office designs, exterior claddings, walkways, and stairways throughout North America to admit natural light while optimizing the use of interior space.
For more information about glass block architecture for offices or other applications, contact GBA Architectural Products & Services.
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