If you are riding out Hurricane Irma in your home — be it a single-family residence, apartment or townhouse — it’s important to identify a safe room.
The best safe room location is an interior room on the first floor of your home. Think: closets, bathrooms or small storage rooms with only one door and no windows.
The safe room should ideally be in a part of your house that is the least susceptible to flooding and firmly anchored to the house’s foundation to avoid tipping over. Bathrooms usually are rooted, so they are a viable option if they are not along an outside wall and have no windows. The National Weather Service (NWS) said the plumbing within the walls is thought to add some structural strength to the room.
A bathroom also has a water supply and toilet. Sometimes a bathtub, too, which is heavy and can provide an extra layer of protection if you have to huddle inside. But, as the NWS says, “contrary to popular belief, there is nothing magically safe about getting in a bathtub with a mattress.” Again, think: Location.
The safe room should be as impenetrable as possible from the wind. If the bathroom has a window, ideally you have already protected it with shutters or plywood. Taping the window is useless and makes it more dangerous.
Apartments and town houses have similar guidelines. But those on an upper floor unit need to get to the lowest floor with as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Also, you may have shuttered, but your neighbors haven’t boarded their windows and sliding glass doors.
In some cases, an apartment clubhouse or laundry room could function as a shelter if it meets the basic safety guidelines of a safe room, and it needs to be accessible at all times, said the NWS.