A tornado room is designed and engineered to stringent ICC 500 and FEMA P-361 standards, providing life safety features from tornadoes, flying debris and other dangers 100 mph plus winds can cause.

Stormdefender™ Tornado Safe Room Doors

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Tornado damage is at an all-time high

Tornadoes are more common in the United States than any other country. In fact, there are four times more tornadoes in the United States than all of Europe. Not only has the frequency and amounts of reported tornadoes increased over the years, but the intensity and strength of the tornadoes have increased also.

When a severe weather event happens, the current trend is for more tornadoes per event and stronger tornadoes with higher winds. The damage and loss of life that multiple tornadoes with winds over 200 mph are devastating and costs and tragedies associated with them have soared. This has led to International Code Council and the National Storm Shelter Association to create the first Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters and safe rooms. This had led to increased safe rooms in schools, tornado safe rooms and buildings designed with a built-in tornado room

Why is there a need for tornado safe rooms?

Tornadoes are rated on a scale of EF0 to EF5. The scale ranges from 65-85 mph winds during an EF0 tornado to over 200 mph winds during an F5 event. Typically, the average home is built to withstand around 70 mph winds. In areas prone to tornadoes and hurricanes, local building codes can mandate increased standards to help prevent damage and loss of life.

One of the most devastating tornadoes had wind speeds clocked at 318 mph. But the wind speed alone does not cause safety concerns and damage. It also created deadly flying projectiles as well as positive and negative wind pressure. The wind forces cause roofs to lift off and buildings to separate from foundations while the impact of flying debris can penetrate metal at those speeds. 


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FEMA P 361 and ICC 500

Because of the destruction that can be caused in numerous ways from these severe tornado events, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms. This set forth design and construction criteria for tornado and hurricane shelters where none had existed before. These criteria were the basis of many FEMA-funded safe rooms designed and constructed since 2000. FEMA also helped develop the ICC 500 standard (published by the International Code Council®/ National Storm Shelter Association®), published originally in 2008.

Since then, many communities have adopted ICC 500 as building code in areas that are prone to severe tornado and weather events. Buildings with either a tornado room or storm room have helped saved numerous lives. 

Installing a storm safe room or tornado safe room

Building a tornado room involves sturdier walls, roof structures and tornado safe room doors. The roof must be able to transfer wind loads to the walls and the walls to the ground or foundation. This did not allow many opening and the ones that were included required hurricane doors or tornado doors installed. Early designs and implementations involved heavy swinging safe room doors that needed to be manually closed and latched shut. If the doors could not be closed properly, the storm safe room’s integrity could be compromised. Self-shutting hurricane doors and safe room doors meant large cumbersome structures and often still had to be latched. Most buildings ended up with a safe room that was dark, claustrophobic and dungeon like. This made it hard for architects and designers to make the room function for other practical uses. 


Tornado Room Doors

StormDefender™ now enables Safe Room design innovation that enables open, airy designs

The StormDefender door is big on security and on design. How? By being invisible until called into service. The StormDefender safe room door is engineered with sleek construction that can be embedment into precast concrete making it virtually undetectable. Now you can have safe room doors that are hidden above a ceiling or in a soffit that allow more design freedom. A single StormDefender tornado door can protect multiple openings or windows to maximize designs with natural lights. Now architects and designers have the freedom to incorporate a tornado room into a building’s design that is more open and airy, especially for safe rooms in schools, like cafeterias, classrooms or gymnasiums. 

StormDefender™ is Built for Protection

But a more open design does not mean decreased safety, in fact just the opposite. StormDefender features our award-winning AlarmGard system with fail-safe operation, so when a severe storm event is imminent, it will deploy automatically. Our patent pending windlocks prevent the storm door’s curtain from pulling out of the guide which eliminates the need to manually latch or lock the tornado door once closed. This can free valuable time and manpower to make sure everyone is evacuated into the storm safe room. After any weather triggering event, the safe room door can simply disappear back into the structure.

StormDefender™ is ICC 500 and FEMA 361 certified

Now you can turn an open space into an ICC 500/FEMA 361 rated safe room to protect occupants from harsh winds and deadly projectiles. Available in both fire–rated and non-fire-rated models, the StormDefender has been tested and certified to stringent ICC 500-2014 and FEMA P-361, third edition code standards. Check out the test results!  The StormDefender safe room door is tested to withstand high-speed projectiles leaving nothing but a dent less than 3”. Along with the impact test, the StormDefender held effortlessly when exposed to wind pressure of 300 psf positive and negative pressure. This door is built to protect any opening through two of Mother Nature’s most dangerous natural disasters.


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When you are in need of a tornado room door, safe room door or hurricane doors and don’t want to give open having an open design, the StormDefender ICC 500/FEMA 361 rated safe room door is the answer you have been looking for!

Cookson has many models to meet the needs of just about any situation or need. However, we can also specially design any roll up door to meet any specific need. No size, requirement or application is too much of a challenge. 

Have a unique door solution, problem or specification? Contact our experienced Architectural Design Support Team for help in customizing our products to fit your specific application. Call 1-800-233-8366 Ext.4551  • Contact Us