A safe room is a room designed to withstand winds from the strongest hurricanes (Categories 3-5) and strong tornadoes. This option should only be considered if the house is outside of all known flood and storm surge zones and is strengthened to the highest level. Safe rooms should not be built in a flood zone, where there is a threat of moving water. During a hurricane or other high flood event, even these areas need to be evacuated, no matter how fortified the room is against the wind.
Although costs vary nationwide, it is much less expensive to build a safe room during the original construction of a house. The safe room can also double as a master closet, bathroom, or utility room. The additional cost can be wrapped into the original home mortgage. This is a good investment that yields a sizable return in that it adds value to your house as well as protection and peace of mind for your family.
More information regarding design and construction of safe rooms can be found in FEMA Publication 361, Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms, and FEMA Publication 320, Taking Shelter from the Storm.