A tornado safe room is designed to providing life safety features from tornadoes, flying debris and other dangers 250 mph plus winds can cause and engineered to stringent ICC 500 and FEMA P-361 standards.

Stay Safe with Tornado Safe Rooms

The dangers of tornados are at an all-time high. Not just in the expected areas of “Tornado Alley”, but also in states not used to large tornado outbreaks such as PA, NY, VA, FL and more. Keeping everyone safe during a severe weather event has now become a nationwide concern. Because dangerous weather can occur at any time, installing a tornado safe room can provide safety to building occupants in times or emergencies.

The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA), International Code Council (ICC) and FEMA all have guidelines for designing and building a tornado safe room. The ICC-500 requirements have become the gold standard buildings and schools use when constructing tornado safe rooms, while FEMA-361 requires some additional requirements that make the building eligible for FEMA grants. FEMA-361 requirements are intended to provide near absolute protection in a storm.

All states that have adopted 2015 IBC or more recent, require all storm shelters in many public buildings. These buildings must meet the ICC-500 standard. Because of that, it is common to see tornado safe rooms in all schools and most other public buildings throughout the Mid-West.

However more states are taking this approach even outside “Tornado Alley”. Starting in September 2019, Ohio now requires these bunker-like structures in many new critical facilities and K-12 buildings. Regardless of the building code requirements, officials in Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia are regularly calling on including a tornado safe room in all new school constructions after devastating tornado events that occurred there.


Both guidelines require impact resistant doors to protect from flying debris. ICC-500 has testing requirements that vary from 130 to 250 mph wind speeds, while FEMA P-361 requires testing for 250 mph debris impact.

In the past, installing safe room doors that meet the certified requirements has been challenging, because many storm shelter doors can be cumbersome, occupy a lot or space and often require manual latching to fully secure them.

That’s why Cookson developed a new StormDefender safe room door to address those issues. The StormDefender door utilizing a sleek construction design, the StormDefender is engineered to create a minimal protrusion into any space where it’s installed. This makes it a tornado safe room door that is virtually undetectable until deployed. This new advancement in safe room design has opened up new design freedoms when it comes to tornado safe room design and implementation. Utilizing a coiling door design, the safe room door may be hidden above a finished ceiling or into a soffit, making it virtually undetectable until needed.

StormDefender is built for Tornado Protection

  • Certified to ICC-500 and FEMA P-361 standards
  • Utilizes our award winning AlarmGard operator system for fail safe operation
  • Automatically deploys into place when activated, no manual locking required
  • The heavy-duty slats are held in place with our patent pending curtain design keeping them in the guides even in the strongest of winds
  • After the event, the doors automatically reopen, disappearing back into the structure
  • Available in fire-rated and non fire-rated models

Big on security and on design

  • Sleek construction allows for virtually undetectable embedment into precast concrete
  • Typical safe room spaces – like cafeterias, classroom pods and gymnasiums – can be open and airy instead of dark and claustrophobic
  • The coil may be hidden above a finished ceiling or into a soffit
  • A single StormDefender door can cover multiple openings, or even banks of windows to maximize natural light


Request Information on Tornado Safe Room Doors

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.