ALABAMA ACT 2021-165


What is a Safer Place?
A Safer Place is not a tornado shelter but a place where the public can go to during a severe weather watch to wait for the weather threat to pass. The Safer Place is intended to provide safer shelter than the outside, a mobile home, or poorly constructed home and those who seek shelter in a Safer Place should know that absolute safety is not a guarantee.

 A Safer Places Shelter


  • Provide a “Safer Place” for individuals to shelter during a severe weather watch period

Does Not:

  • Guarantee Safety
  • Provide extended/long-term sheltering
  • Limit the other uses of the “Safer Places” sheltering facility

Safer Places General Facility Guidelines 

  • The facility should provide improved protection from the elements.
  • Nothing in the facility should pose a direct threat to the health and safety of those seeking refuge.
  • There must be a secondary exit from the facility.
  • There must be smoke detectors present in the designated facility area compliant with applicable building codes.
  • There should be adequate restroom facilities available which provide privacy and be ADA-accessible if possible.


 Liability – Facilities 

Alabama Code Section 31-9-1 7: Exemption from tort liability of persons granting license or privilege for use of real estate, etc., for shelters. 

Any person owning or controlling real estate or other premises who voluntarily and without compensation grants a license or privilege, or otherwise permits the
designation or use of the whole or any part or of such real estate or premises for the purpose or parts sheltering persons during an actual disaster or an actual, impending, mock, or practice attack, shall, together with his successors in interest, if any, not be civilly liable for negligently causing the death of, or injury to, any person on or about such real estate or premises, or for the loss of, or damage to, the property of such person.


Liability – Volunteers
Alabama Code§ 6-5-336(4): A person performing services for a nonprofit organization, a nonprofit corporation, a hospital, or a governmental entity without compensation, other than reimbursement for actual expenses incurred. The term includes a volunteer serving as a director, officer, trustee, or direct service volunteer. 

             (d) Any volunteer shall be immune from civil liability in any action on the basis of any act or omission of a volunteer resulting in damage or injury if:
(1) The volunteer was acting in good faith and within the scope of such volunteer’s official functions and duties for a nonprofit organization, a nonprofit corporation, hospital, or a governmental entity; and
(2) The damage or injury was not caused by willful or wanton misconduct by such volunteer.
             (e) In any suit against a nonprofit organization, nonprofit corporation, or a hospital for civil damages based upon the negligent act or omission of a volunteer, proof of such act or omission shall be sufficient to establish the responsibility of the organization therefore under the doctrine of “respondent superior,” notwithstanding the immunity granted to the volunteer with respect to any act or omission included under subsection (d).

Simply stated, Safer Places participants are protected thru…

Liabilities of Facilities: Alabama Code releases a party from simple negligence claims for allowing the use of property for the sheltering of people from disaster, barring gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Protection of Volunteers: Alabama Code grants immunity to volunteers within government organizations and non-profit
organizations from civil liability for negligence, as long as damage or injury was not caused by willful or wanton misconduct


Expectations of Facility Owners & MCEMA

Facility operating as Safer Place will:
✓ Provide shelter to the public at large
✓ Remain open to the public until the severe weather watch period ends
✓ Provide staffing to oversee the shelter during the entirety of the activation

Mobile County Emergency Management Agency will:
✓ Notify public of shelter opening
✓ Notify applicable law enforcement agency for increased patrols
✓ Provide signage
✓ Provide non-staffing support as needed
✓ Coordinate training opportunities with DHS and the Red Cross if desired  


To be designated a Safer Place Shelter

  • The applicant will submit to Mobile County EMA a drawing/ plan/ photographs
    identifying which specific area, rooms, or building designated as the “Safer Place” with notation of
    ADA accessibility.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) delineating responsibilities of all parties will be executed
    between MCEMA and the applicant.