Getting Prepared for the Next Storm with the Right Shelter

Tornadoes and hurricanes happen in predictable regions. Warnings are never enough if you’re not well prepared to evacuate your loved ones to a safe house. And because they are predictable weather catastrophes, it is imperative to always be prepared. Experts advise people to move to an underground shelter or an enclosed basement anytime a tropical storm or a hurricane is imminent.

Storm shelter options

Two options can be used to protect one from storms. They are;

  • Stand-alone storm shelters
  • Internal safe rooms -this is located within the main house or connected to the host building

Internal safe rooms

Where you shelter can be the thin line between surviving the storm or otherwise. An interior room like a bathroom is a better option than a stand-alone wall in the house, though it’s not a guarantee that your house will remain standing after the storm passes.

A safe room connected to the host building should be close enough where the occupants can reach quickly without exposing themselves to the adverse weather.

A basement is a preferred shelter for most people in storm-prone areas. However, to increase comfort and step up the level of protection, many people are choosing pre-build safe rooms installed by bolting them to the ground. You can build your own safe room or approach professional builders such as texas storm shelters for commercial or residential solutions.

One of the greatest disadvantages of internal safe rooms is the possibility of surrounding buildings collapsing on them. However, you can engage a professional engineer to help eliminate this risk.

Stand-Alone Storm Shelters

A safe room is constructed far from potential hazards and is not vulnerable to weakness from adjacent buildings.

These structures are made from solid steel panels welded together into a box-shaped structure. The doors are made of thick steel and anchored to the homes’ foundation on a concrete pad. Be warned if you’re a DIY enthusiast unless you’ve had the appropriate tools and metalworking skills do not attempt constructing a safe shelter.

It can also be made of insulating concrete forms, fortified with iron bars or masonry bars. A stand-alone shelter should be strong enough to shield the occupants against the hurricane’s fury. Therefore only a qualified engineer should design it.  If you decide to construct your own instead of buying an already made structure ensure that a reliable contractor is on site.

Alternatively, you can procure a prefabricated shelter from storm shelters near you and have it assembled and installed on your preferred site. The kind of shelters you find from professional storm shelters are specially made to resist extreme wing occurrences such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

FEMA Guideline for Safe-Rooms’ Construction

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) above the ground, safe shelters can be constructed on a slab, basement, or crawlspace. All the building materials should be standard and beefed up considerably to guarantee performance in the event of a storm.

The basement-The basement rooms should use 2 by 4 framing, and each stud doubled up.

The walls-All the wall sheaths should be built with a double layer of ¾ -inch plyboard. This plywood should be layered over a 14-gauge thick steel sheathing.

The door- This is a main point of weakness and can potentially compromise the quality of the structure. This is because the hinges and latches are links that can be shattered on high impact.

The latch-As such, FEMA recommends 3 locking pins for the latch slide bolts or deadbolts. Each of the three bolts should have a 1-inch throw surface and then be mounted to a straggle. The astragal should be 8 by 3-inch wood-decked steel screws.

The hinges- The hinges on the side of the door should be at least 4 inches heavy duty quality. They should also be at least five manufactured-to standard head screws.

The size- The safe room should be spacious enough to hold the number of people it’s meant to shelter. If it’s a residential safe room, consider the total number of occupants in your household at any given time.

FEMA recommends a home storm shelter should be about 10 square feet of space per individual. So a safe room meant to shield a family of five persons, the space needed is approximately 50 square feet. In case you have bedridden family members, you’ll need to add 30 more square feet for each of them.

Remember that a safe room shelter should have a separate foundation because placing it in the existing one would require one to cut out that portion of the floor and dig up a new one.

Kalvin Abbas
the authorKalvin Abbas