Storm Shelters

by Carmen Corbin on March 10, 2012

With the advent of spring weather already upon us in many areas of the country, it’s prudent to have a storm safety plan in place.  Although it’s not pleasant to think about, we’ve all seen pictures of the damage and destruction that can occur during violent weather.  One of the best measures you can take to protect yourself and your family is to install an underground storm shelter.

Types of Storm Shelters

In 2011, over 1,600 confirmed tornadoes occurred in the United States.  The most obvious danger to human life is flying and falling debris, which is why getting completely underground is the best protection.

Storm Cellars: If your home doesn’t have a basement, you may want to consider a custom built storm cellar.  These are often constructed of concrete with a pull-up door and stairwell, and are usually located near the house for quick access.

Basements: While basements are a good place to ride out a storm, you can still be in danger of flying glass and building materials.  Ask a home improvement contractor about constructing a small dugout room out from one wall of the basement.  You’ll also want to be sure to consult a basement waterproofing company to keep it dry and prevent the need for later mold remediation.

Pre-Manufactured Storm Shelters: Also known as safe rooms, these self-contained, sturdy steel structures are designed to resist high winds and flying objects.  You can either bolt them to your basement foundation or bury them underground in your yard, garage or patio area.  Make sure you purchase one that has a door that swings inside to open – this way you’ll still be able to exit if debris is blocking the door.  Prices range from $4,500-$6,000, depending on how many people can be accommodated.

Supplies to Keep in the Shelter

Because you may be waiting out the storm for awhile, you’ll want to stock your storm shelter with a few essential supplies.  Water jugs, non-perishable food items, blankets, flashlights and a weather radio should top the list.  If you have young children or pets, keep a small supply of diapers and pet food too.  Extra clothes and shoes, medicines, emergency cash and a first aid kit are also a good idea.

For more information on building or installing a storm shelter, contact your local home improvement contractor or visit www.fema.gov.

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