The Norman Transcript

Business

July 20, 2013

Tornado safety is a high priority as schools design safe rooms

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Once safe rooms are locked down, school officials can’t open the doors until the tornado has passed. If the doors are opened during a tornado, safety is compromised. Additionally, school safe rooms are not public facilities — they are designed for the children, teachers and staff who are on site, Kitchens said.

Williams also emphasized the importance of locked, FEMA-approved doors on tornado safe rooms. He said the FEMA-approved triple deadbolt locking system must be secured when a tornado hits.

“There are only two hardware systems that have passed the tests and are being used today,” Williams said.

Reinforced hallways are safer than those that are not reinforced, but doors are key to safety in an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado.

“They (the hallways) need the doors,” Williams said.

BWA has completed 90 safe rooms in Oklahoma, most of them in schools. Only a handful of those are FEMA funded. The firm has been doing business in Norman for 39 years.

An April 14, 2011, an EF-3 tornado killed two people, damaged homes and destroyed a school in Tushka, a small community near Atoka. Many members of the community crowded into a safe room adjacent to the pre-school, while others crowded into a below-ground public shelter with dirt floors and steel doors, according to media reports. The two people who died were not in those shelters.

Today, the rebuilt Tushka school has four saferooms, one in each wing. BWA worked on that project. The Tushka school safe rooms were FEMA-funded.

But FEMA funding comes mostly after devastation rather than before. And FEMA safe room guidelines are built to hurricane specifications rather than tornado specs — a fact that makes those facilities more expensive than they have to be.

Schools building tornado shelters without FEMA funding follow FEMA guidelines for structural safety and doors, but may leave other, costly elements out of project plans.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Business
  • Tunneling your way through the Internet

    Surfing” the Internet used to be a popular pastime. You hopped on your computer surfboard and rode the waves of the Internet, randomly surfing and exploring from one website to the next....

    August 1, 2014

  • Ideal Homes to dedicate Oklahoma’s first Home for HOPE

    Ideal Homes dedicated the company’s first Home for HOPE on Wednesday at 13209 SW 5th in Yukon....

    July 27, 2014

  • Todd Lamb to keynote luncheon

    Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb will provide the keynote address at the Norman Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Lunch at 11:45 a.m. Aug. 6 at the National Weather Center. Lamb will speak on state issues that may impact local business and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma learns about storm water proposal

    The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma invited Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary to talk about the new storm water fee proposal at its luncheon Thursday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Backing up everything, everywhere, not as easy as it should be

    Though we may wish or believe otherwise, computing devices are still somewhat of a hassle to use. Some devices, like Apple’s iPad, come close to being fully realized machines, but even iPads have their clunky side....

    July 27, 2014

  • Is using E10 or ‘pure’ gasoline more economical?

    An analysis by AAA Oklahoma shows that at today’s prices, E10 motor fuel is cheaper to use than 100 percent gasoline, despite the fewer miles per gallon produced by E10, which is a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline....

    July 27, 2014

  • Appellate judge retiring

    The Honorable Charles A. Johnson retired from the Court of Criminal Appeals after 25 years on the bench. Johnson was appointed to the court on Oct. 31, 1989, by Gov. Henry Bellmon to fill the unexpired term of Hez J. Bussey. After 59 ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Candy Basket celebrates 25 years

    Perhaps it’s the chocolate covered blueberries whose deliciousness still lingers. Or maybe it’s the blood orange and wild honey white chocolate ganache that won’t soon be forgotten by your taste buds. At The Candy Basket there is decadence ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Bramlett & Associates adopts new name reflective of business

    Bramlett & Associates Multimedia LLC (Bramlett Multimedia), 215 W. Main St., announced this month that the company will change its name after 12 years in business and will do business as BOLD-Multimedia. The announcement, made first to ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Toothpick holders convention coming to Norman

    Lynne Ryan has been collecting toothpick holders her entire life. “My parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.L. ‘Bud’ Gibbs started our collection in 1936,” Ryan said. Ryan was born in 1940, and she grew up crawling around toothpick holders, as have ...

    July 20, 2014