Live from the 2015 International Builders Show – Give an Ordinary Room an Extraordinary Purpose

DSC_0461Last year, more than 50,000 attended the NAHB International Builders’ Show (IBS), and organizers are expecting an even larger turnout this week in Las Vegas for IBS2015. That’s why we’ve teamed up with our Legacy Partners FEMA and Portland Cement Association (PCA) to share three messages—tornado safe rooms save lives; tornado safe room options and price points are abundant; and tornado safe rooms present a win/win opportunity for builders and families alike.

As part of the show, we’re exhibiting outside the Las Vegas Convention Center with six types of safe rooms:

  1. Cast-in-Place Concrete Forms
  2. Concrete Masonry
  3. Insulated Concrete Forms
  4. Precast Concrete
  5. Steel and Plywood-Clad Wood
  6. Steel

The tornado safe rooms can be used above-ground, below-ground, inside the home, outside in the garage or in the yard. And, when built to FEMA 320 guidance, safe rooms provide “near absolute protection from winds up to 250 mph.”

We opened the exhibit today with a news conference for the builders, buyers, designers, and engineers. We defined the safe room growth trend as having three distinct drivers:

First, the high profile, deadly storms like Superstorm Sandy and tornado outbreaks of the past few years—Tuscaloosa, Joplin, Moore—have all galvanized public attention, driving home the point of how deadly weather truly is.

Second, the proliferation of weather information through expanded coverage, digital communication channels, minute by minute radar maps, and real-time severe weather alerting is increasing awareness.

(And we are contributing here with our smartphone app—FLASH WX Alerts with text to speech alert and the fastest and most precise performance to avoid over-alerting.)

So is there more weather, or are we just more aware?

Our Legacy Partners at the NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma provided us with data on the average number of tornado watches from 2003 through December 2014. We wanted to identify U.S. locations affected by tornado watches.

The data indicates that, on average, nine out of ten of U.S. counties and the District of Columbia had experienced tornado watches, and of those, the average family spent 27 hours per year under a watch.

This is especially interesting because the affected area goes well beyond the ten states comprising the area labeled “tornado alley”[1].

The third driver, and perhaps the most relevant to our location at IBS2015, is that the marketplace is accelerating, expanding, and becoming better understood by consumers. More types of safe rooms are available. Distribution channels are expanding. For example, did you know you can now buy a tornado safe room online from The Home Depot? Cost options are expanding, and economists maintain their stance that safe rooms increase real estate value for homes in certain areas.

All of the above factors are making these life-saving rooms available to families no matter where they live. Hopefully families purchasing safe rooms never experience a tornado. Whether or not one affects them, they have invested in their families’ safety, comfort, and peace of mind knowing that the unthinkable happens and be ready for it.

It seems like an easy decision to us: invest in your home by increasing its value and potentially save the lives of your loved ones.

[1] As defined by the NOAA National Climate Data Center: “Although the boundaries of Tornado Alley are debatable (depending on which criteria you use—frequency, intensity, or events per unit area), the region from central Texas, northward to northern Iowa, and from central Kansas and Nebraska east to western Ohio is often collectively known as Tornado Alley.”

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