Above Ground Steel Storm Shelter Manufacturer

Is an Above Ground Storm Shelter the Best Choice During a Tornado?

Recent Technological Advances have made Above Ground Shelters the Right Choice for Most People in Need of Storm Protection

In the all too common scenario that a tornado warning is issued for your area, what do the experts feel are the best choices for avoiding injury or loss of life?

Options range from seeking shelter in basements to an above ground storm shelter to below-ground storm shelters. There are pros and cons to all of these options, but one option does provide the best option to protect your family.

Most experts now agree that your odds for surviving a direct hit with a strong tornado (EF-4 or EF-5) are greatest in a tested above ground storm shelter built to FEMA specifications.

Above ground storm shelters tested by the Texas Tech wind institute and built to FEMA specifications can be rated to survive an EF-5 storm, they pose less risk of entrapment when compared to underground storm shelters, do not pose a risk of flooding from the common breaking of water lines during a tornado, that an in-ground storm shelter does, and also is much more easily accessible to the elderly or those with handicaps making maneuvering stairs difficult or impossible.  Additionally, above ground storm shelters have fewer installation limitations.  Nearly any piece of property can be made eligible for installation of an above ground tornado shelter.  All these reasons make it easy to understand why most experts prefer and recommend an above ground storm shelter to families looking to provide protection from an unpredictable storm.

If an above-ground safe room is not available but a basement is present, you should head downstairs and get under sturdy furniture or a stairwell.

In violent tornadoes, sometimes the floor collapses or is swept away and debris can then be thrown into the basement.  So they are not the best option, but if a storm is heading your way, they can still be the best option available.

For existing homes that do not have a basement, retrofitting a small, interior room or adding an above ground safe room within a large room or even under an existing stairway, is a cost effective alternative.  Alternatively, an above ground storm shelter can be installed outdoors on an existing concrete pad/foundation, or a new foundation can be poured to safely secure an outdoor tornado shelter.

What if you don’t have an Above Ground Safe Room?

Storm Tested Shelter in an EF5 Tornado

Storm Tested Shelter in an EF5 Tornado- Our Tornado Shelters have saved countless lives.

But what should you do if you do not have access to a tornado shelter on your property?  Studies have shown that when much of a home has been destroyed, often the only surviving part of the dwelling is a small interior room, such as a closet or bathroom. This has to do with more supportive wall framing versus ceiling surface area.

In strong tornadoes, often the entire roof and/or upper floors are removed from the dwelling, which exposes the remaining walls to more stress and risk of failure.

Even if the interior walls remain standing, they could be penetrated by high-velocity projectiles.

An approved above ground safe room has reinforced walls, ceiling and door.

Whether you seek refuge in a safe room or closet, there are additional precautions you can take.

According to a story published by The Birmingham News, a bike helmet, an infant car seat, sturdy shoes or boots and a heavy quilt or coat can offer extra protection from shards of glass, splinters and other airborne objects.

For those living in mobile homes, you should seek safe shelter elsewhere.  A mobile home offers little protection from a tornado.  But again, a storm shelter can be installed outside of a mobile home to provide protection when the next storm strike.  We currently offer financing plans through our partners for little interest, making it accessible to families with varying budgets.

No matter where you live, a storm shelter could one day save your family!

Despite a low risk in parts of the nation, tornadoes have occurred in all 50 states.  And in recent years, areas that have been typically low risk have seen large increases in tornadoes.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average lead time for tornado warnings is only 13 minutes.  So when you are under a tornado warning, you should implement your tornado plan immediately.  There is no time to wait, and you should always have a practiced plan in place.

There are some people who do not have a means of transportation, are handicapped or simply have no place to go.  And those people should follow our recommendations above and react with the best options available to them.

Escaping a tornado in a vehicle is not recommended unless the absence of traffic and the availability of road options allow you to move quickly at right angles relative to the tornado’s path.

The meteorological community including the National Weather Service provide heads-up alerts sometimes days in advance of potential severe weather and tornado outbreaks.

However, planning ahead should not wait until the day of an expected outbreak or during the heart of the severe weather season. Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, and any time of the day.

In the case of mobile homes, or other storm-vulnerable housing, planning ahead as far as possible is necessary in terms of constructing, locating and traveling to a safe area.

It should be the topic of community, family and workplace discussion. There may already be approved safe areas and information available within your township, school or job site.  If you are responsible for your school or workplace safety, we also offer commercial storm shelters and community storm shelters, with many of these already scattered across the country in high risk areas.

You can survive a tornado!

People should assume the worst will happen when a tornado warning is issued.

Take responsibility for your safety. Trust the warnings. You might spend some time in a storm shelter unnecessarily on occasion, but the tornado warnings have become good enough that they need to be taken seriously.”

If schools and workplaces have no plan (for tornadoes), people should demand that a plan be developed.  And we are here to help you approach your school or workplace decision makers, and can provide you with a plethora of literature describing the many options and also provide information about the availability of grants and rental arrangements to offset costs.

If you are building a new home, consider the addition of an approved above ground safe room or nearby outdoor, above ground storm shelter with adequate means of ventilation.

If you live in a mobile home park, consider approaching the owner as a group about building an above ground storm shelter.  Again, we are glad to help facilitate that interaction by calling on your behalf, or providing materials to help ease the discussion.

In light of the trend of fatalities over the years during tornado outbreaks, there have been vast improvements in public awareness thanks to advanced warnings in the public and private sector.

However, since the number of fatalities from tornadoes is still far from zero, much more improvement is needed on behalf of the public’s education, practice and preventative measures.

Safe-T-Shelter, StormShelter.com, and Aqua Marine Enterprises (the manufacturer of Safe-T-Shelter storm shelters) want to keep you, your family, your work, and your community safe in an unpredictable storm.

Safe-T-Shelter is here to help, and our more than 21 years of experience protecting families, communities, and businesses across the country means that we are the safe choice to help protect you no matter what your unique situation might be.

 

 

Above Ground Storm Shelters are Safer than Underground Storm Shelters

Above Ground Storm Shelters are the Safest Option

Popular opinion in many parts of the country is that when a tornado is bearing down on a community, the only safe place to take shelter is below ground. Joseph has found that this flies in the face of 15 years of research done at Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute investigating the safety of above-ground storm shelters. He discusses findings from the Moore, OK, tragedy as well as several additional benefits of above-ground shelters. In addition, he shows video of TTU’s Debris Impact Facility firing 15-pound, 2″ by 4″ wood beams at 100 mph to show what tornadic debris can do to a normal home and how a storm shelter keeps occupants safe.

Following the recent devastating tornadoes we heard from many of you asking how to be certain a safe room will keep your family safe through a large tornado.

Alex Ryan was there when the EF-5 tornado barreled into Birmingham.

“When you see a tornado that is that big you have no choice. It’s either find cover or die,” he said.

John Melton also rode out the storm. He and his family didn’t have a safe room so they took to their cellar.

“We locked the cellar door when we saw it coming and it got louder and the next thing you know you see the latch coming undone and you couldn’t reach for it and it ripped open the door. Glass and debris started slamming on us,” John said.

The Meltons all survived but many people have asked us in the wake of the deadly storms which type of safe room is best.  We have made, and installed both for 21+ years, so we have a unique perspective with evidence to support our stance.

Amidst the debris in the path of the EF-5 tornado that tore through Alabama we found safe rooms that survived; both above and below ground.

But we wanted to know whether above or below ground is safest because just as the Alabama tornado began to hit, people were being told the only safe place to be is underground.

FEMA says in the right safe room your family will have near absolute protection even in storms whipping up to 250 miles per hour.

Nathan Evans and his family took to their safe room as the deadly Huntsville tornado descended on them.

“Usually the ones that come around here they kind of come close but never had a direct hit,” said Nathan.

This time it was a direct hit.

The storm sucked the door open on the family’s underground safe room.

“It was scary in respect that I thought I might lose someone in my family.”

It’s a worst case scenario: 250 mph wind with flying debris.

Could above ground safe rooms /  above ground storm shelters hold as well? 

To find out we traveled to the Texas Tech Wind Research Center. At the facility in Lubbock, Texas scientists use a wind cannon to launch wood and metal to simulate wind and damaging storm debris. It can produce EF-5 level tornado damage.

The cannon simulates wind of 250 mph. The researchers line up a safe room to take the hits with objects including 2×4’s fired at the shelter’s most vulnerable spots such as away from studs and into the door.  A storm shelter would be considered a failure if the steel is pushed inward more than three inches.

The cannon fires a series of EF-5 level shots. The safe room performs perfectly.

Barely any evidence of impact exists on the tornado shelter, no holes and the door remains sealed. The shelter would also remain attached to the ground during a tornado. Huge, specially-made bolts driven into at least 4 inches of concrete prevent this shelter from being picked up or pushed over.

A lot of individuals can’t go underground (and we further discuss what to do if an underground shelter is not an option here). Some have underground shelters, but they aren’t able to get into those shelters when the storm hits, or as a result of an array of factors, an underground storm shelter is not possible where they live.  Above ground storm shelters are easier and less expensive to install, which makes them more accessible to consumers.

So now, back to our question — which is superior?  Above or below ground storm shelters?

Larry Tanner, research associate at the Wind Research Center, says most importantly your safe room must be designed and built to FEMA guidelines.

“They’re all safe if they are tested products,” said Tanner.  And all our tornado shelters are tested.

However, in a below ground safe room you face the risk of debris blocking the exit, or flooding (when a tornado demolishes a home, it typically exposes a water line that can and often does lead to flooding in underground storm shelters).

The good news: No one has ever been killed in an approved above ground storm shelter.

And after seeing video footage of cars picked up and tossed by tornadoes many people ask whether above ground safe rooms will stand up to cars falling out of the sky?

Tanner says safe rooms built to FEMA guidelines handle a 3,000 pound vehicle being dropped on them no problem.

“The 57 Cadillac draping over the sides of the shelter. That’s virtually what we see all the time,” Tanner said.

The bottom line, based on a plethora of evidence, is that above ground storm shelters are the best option to protect you and your loved ones.
Above Ground Storm Shelters

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