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Storm and Tornado Shelters

Homeowners in high-risk areas for tornadoes should consider a storm shelter, often called a tornado shelter. These small structures, either heavily reinforced above ground or underground, are especially important for homes without a basement or reinforced interior structure.

Storm shelters can be made out of concrete, steel or reinforced fiberglass and should adhere to guidelines set up by FEMA. These guidelines suggest construction, size and content ideas capable of withstanding tornadoes.

Considerations include:

  • The number of people that need to fit inside
  • If you want to use the storm shelter for longer term emergency use
    • determine how much food and water storage space is needed
    • accommodations for electricity and lights
    • toilet facilities
  • Pick a location, either in a secure area inside your house or outside in the ground. If you put your storm shelter outside, make sure you put it in a place where flooding won’t be a problem.
  • Outside shelters can be landscaped with plantings and flowers so they are not so obvious, but remember to keep plants trimmed so they don’t block entrances and ventilation ports.

Pre-made storm shelters are readily available. They are shipped by truck to your home and installed, typically by the manufacturer

or its representative. Consider one from a manufacturer who specializes in them, not just as a sideline of another business.

Finally, don't use the shelter as a handy storage bin—you may not have time to unload it in an emergency.

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