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Site icon HuntsvilleTornadoShelters.com – Lifesaver Storm Shelters of North Alabama

How to Select a Storm Shelter or Tornado Safe Room

Red Neck Storm Shelter

One example of short cuts people try to take. It may work… but is it worth the risk? What if it doesn’t…

Which is better?  An underground storm shelter?  Or an above-ground tornado safe room?

You’ve seen the destruction that tornadoes and severe weather can wreak on homes, businesses and entire communities and you know you need better protection from these devastating storms.  By now hopefully you’ve also realized that not all storm shelters or tornado safe rooms are created equal.  While having some sort of storm shelter or safe room is better than no safe room or tornado shelter, to ensure your family’s safety and survival through even the most dangerous of storms, you need to choose wisely.

Most people are familiar with the old type of metal or concrete storm shelter that years down the road now more closely resembles a dungeon than a safe place to ride out severe weather.  These older units, while again better than nothing, in most cases were simply not designed or tested to withstand the impact of a strong storm, like a Huntsville tornado.

One of the most serious issues is usually the door.  With the high winds and blowing debris, you want to make sure your storm shelter or tornado safe room door is impact-tested to withstand both the wind trying to pull it off it’s hinges (requiring a substantial hinge and 3-point locking system) as well as impact from debris traveling at 250mph (like a 2×4 or tree branch), simulating the worst of storms, an EF-5 tornado.

This area is where most storm shelters fail.  A regular wood or even metal framed door is not designed to withstand the impact of such objects at anywhere near those kinds of speeds.  There are chances that you get injured after a slip and fall. If the door were to fail or worse get sucked off, you may be subject to imminent injury or worse death.  Needless to say, you need to make sure your storm shelter or safe room door is strong, secure and specifically tested to withstand impact from an EF-5 tornado, the strongest of tornadoes.  (The premier tornado testing facility is at the Texas Tech University Wind Science Center)

The question I’m asked the most is whether or not an above-ground safe room can actually be as safe as an underground storm shelter.  To answer that question quickly, simply watch this short video below:

So this begs the question, if an above-ground impact-tested tornado safe room can be as safe as an underground impact-tested storm shelter, how do you decide which to choose?

The answer is quite simple; it really is a matter of personal preference and space.

If you have a 2 or 3-car garage – or even a 1-car garage that you don’t use to park your car in and have the space for a 4×6, 4×4, 4×8 or other sized tornado safe room, then that may be an option for you.  Conversly, if you do not have any available space for even a 3 1/2 foot x 4 foot safe room in your garage or on a back patio or something, then an underground storm shelter may be the best option for you.

If you have the space in your garage for a tornado safe room, the benefits are:

 In contrast, an underground storm shelter like “The Refuge” storm shelter or Lifesaver Storm Shelter may be better suited for your needs if:

In conclusion, any way you look at it, a tested, quality underground storm shelter is just as safe as an above-ground storm shelter (assuming you’re dealing with a reputable company with quality products that have been specifically engineered, designed and tested for use as tornado protection); the question you have to decide is which factors are most important to me and which one do I prefer?

If you’re still unsure though and would like to discuss your situation with us further to review other concerns or specific issues your house or yard may contain, just give us a call or send us an email anytime by calling (256) 258-WIND (9463) or click on the CONTACT US tab at the top of the page.  Hopefully this article has helped you figure out which option may be best for you and your family.

Please comment below and let us know your thoughts, your determining factors, etc and also be sure to share this article with anyone else you feel may benefit from it, via facebook, twitter or other means as well.

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