Tornado Protection: Selecting and Designing Safe Areas in Buildings



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United States Federal Emergency Management Agency


The effects of severe winds generated by storms may be compared to the low-level blast effects of nuclear weapons. Therefore, increasing the protection in a building from the effects of high winds or tornadoes can provide increased protection in the building in case of nuclear attack. Tornadoes and extreme winds cause heavy loss of life and property damage throughout the United States. Most buildings offer significant protection from this danger, and building administrators should know the areas where this protection is available. This booklet, prepared for FEMA by Professor James J. Abernethy, School of Architecture, Lawrence Institute of Technology, presents a review of three schools: the Meadowland Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana; Monroe Central School in Parker, Indiana; and the Xenia Senior High School in Xenia, Ohio; all of which were struck by tornadoes on April 3, 1974. Damage to these buildings from the tornadoes was examined by teams of specially trained architectural and engineering faculty, the various building administrators, and representatives of the architectural firm which designed the buildings. From these studies, guidance has been developed on selecting best-available shelter from high winds in existing buildidngs, and is presented here. Information in this brochure can also be useful to architects and engineers in designing new buildings which would offer protection from high winds. I urge architects, engineers, and building administrators to apply this guidance so that property losses will be reduced - and safety for the occupants increased.


29 pages; available for download at the link below.