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Emergency planners recommend designating an interior room of your house as a place of refuge during a hurricane. Figure out now where you'll huddle and make sure there's enough space for everyone - and a quick way out if necessary. Select a secure, windowless (but ventilated) place. It can be a standard, 6-by-8-foot or 6-by-6-foot utility room, bathroom or walk-in closet.

Select a backup site nearby in case the first one doesn't hold.

If your house is unlikely to flood but doesn't have a suitable place for your family, you might want to build one. For most, a project like this will require hiring a contractor and cost hundreds of dollars or more.

The room would need solidly reinforced walls, a solid roof (perhaps a 4- to 6-inch concrete slab), steel door, ventilation and some sort of escape hatch if a door gets blocked. It's crucial the roof be securely anchored to the walls and the walls to the floor or the whole room can be compromised.

You could save some money by placing the room in a corner of the house so that two of the walls could be part of the heavier exterior, although they would have to be reinforced more than normal.

Go to the Emergency Preparedness Information page, on to Pets, or back to Your House.