Since we first introduced our All Weather Safe Roomtornado safe room line, we’ve had a great response from people who wanted a way to keep their family safe, yet not have to go outside and climb down steps. Our All Weather Safe Room line with units from 3’x5′ to 10’x50′ has been able to do just that for many families. These tornado safe rooms have been tested by the premiere impact testing facility in the industry – Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Center – in order to ensure they can stand up to the force and impact of debris in an EF-5 tornado.
Every model also meets or exceeds FEMA guidelines so you know you’ve got a quality product that’s safe and also offers a 15 year warranty. The units are customizable as they are all custom built to suit, depending on the size you require and we also now offer benches with storage bins underneath (optional accessory) and we also can build safe rooms to be placed outside (like our community safe rooms, for example).
Putting the finishing touches on a new community safe room
The All Weather Safe Rooms of course have been designed to protect against damaging severe weather like a Huntsville tornado, but can also be used as a panic room (in case your home were to get broken into and you needed somewhere safe to go until the police showed up), a bunker (in case of social unrest or some other unexpected event where you might need protection), or a safe (somewhere you can keep your valuables, like guns, ammo, precious metals, jewelry, important documents, etc).
There are two different models you can choose from, once you have determined your size requirements, and that’s either standard (3/16 inch thick walls and ceiling with a 1/4 inch thick door) or deluxe (1/4 inch thick walls, door and ceiling). Now both models will protect against an EF-5 tornado, but if you’d like it to be that much stronger, maybe to repel a bigger caliber bullet for example, if you’re concerned about that or just to have that added level of security just in case, a deluxe model will cost an additional $1,000.
So what do you do if you just don’t have space for a 4×4 tornado safe room in your garage?
Suppose you want the protection of a safe room but don’t want to have leave one of your cars outside the garage. What can you do then?
We have just introduced our newest and least expensive All Weather Safe Room measuring 3 feet by 5 feet with our standard 80 inch height. You can get this 3×5 tornado safe room installed in your garage from $3795, depending on your location which is an extremely affordable price for any kind of storm shelter or tornado safe room. You can also read this saferacks review to see if it fits into your garage. It has nearly the same amount of square footage meaning (just 1 square foot less) yet it’s over $200 cheaper and gives you an additional foot of width or length in your garage so you don’t have to park your car in the driveway. Luckily, we now have a solution for you!
When the weather is nice out, the kids are out of school, there are activities to do and you think for the time being you’ve dodged the bullet; “storm season” so-to-speak is months away and you believe you’ve plenty of time to think about preparing for the next storm season or buying a storm shelter or tornadosafe room…
…But guess what: that’s what everyone else who didn’t get their storm shelter ordered yet is thinking as well!
That’s fine and all until the next severe weather siren goes off and everyone rushes to the phone, all wanting to order their storm shelter or tornado safe room now!
Here’s the problem with that situation:
Unfortunately, a storm shelter is not a hamburger; it’s not something you can put together and have ready within a few minutes or hours…
Storm shelters and tornado safe rooms are big, heavy units that require precision in their build to ensure they conform to FEMA requirements and that they’ll withstand an EF-5 tornado. In order to produce such a unit, a large factory with heavy machinery and skilled workers is required and only so many units can be produced at one time, given the amount of materials, space, labor and cost involved (among other things).
Understanding Production of Storm Shelters & Tornado Safe Rooms
Because demand relies quite a bit on the severity of the weather and previous storms, there are times of year that are typically slower (when the factory can produce more units than are requested) and then other times of year when it’s the reverse, where demand exceeds the production ability of the factory (like this last March and April, in particular). Like any business subject to such huge swings in demand, it’s difficult to know when demand is going to spike and how many workers you’re going to need or have to lay off.
Ideally, you’d keep a well-trained, experienced production crew on the payroll all year round, but with the huge swings in demand, it can be virtually impossible as for part of the year you’d have to pay them to do nothing (because you don’t need to produce as many units) which of course no business can afford to do. But on the contrary, if you only have a crew that can handle the slower times of the year, you get really backed up as you can’t get product out fast enough and your workers are on the clock 16 hours a day (which creates other problems, not to mention the additional stress on the machinery and other systems). So in order to cope, you end up having to bring on more people to handle the demand spikes, but trying to find people who are qualified and experienced for that kind of work and willing and able to work at that time (ie, not employed somewhere else) when a storm suddenly hits a month early, for example, can cause months of delays…
So it’s a little bit tricky and not an exact science. The spiked demand for orders might last a few days from one close call, or maybe a supercell hits and orders last for weeks or a month. Or even worse, multiple supercells hit in different parts of the country all around the same period of time and EVERYONE it seems wants a storm shelter or tornado safe room all at the same time, making it hard to just answer the phone, let alone produce storm shelters.
As you can imagine, those times of year are the periods of time you want to avoid. Now, if you’re just not able to get your storm shelter or safe room ordered until that period, just be prepared for potentially long days without any real idea of exactly when your storm shelter or tornado safe room will get to you. As just mentioned, sometimes these demand peaks don’t last too long and production is able to catch up quickly. But if you can at all avoid it, you should!
So when exactly are the best times to order a underground storm shelter or tornado safe room?
Just like in the investing world, when everyone jumps on and wants to buy something, you probably should have already bought. And it’s the same with buying your storm shelter – you want to do the opposite of the masses.
So instead of waiting until the last minute to place your order, do your research now, plan your finances out now or contact us if you need financing, but you want to order your storm shelter or tornado safe room when everyone else isn’t – before the storms threaten!
In other words, when you’re NOT thinking about severe weather or thunder storms, that’s a good time to order your tornado shelter or safe room. Why? Because you’ll be able to get your underground storm shelter or above ground tornado safe room within a matter of days or weeks as opposed to possibly months… This way you’re prepared for the typically worst part of the storm season when it arrives, giving you peace of mind and security, instead of fear, worry and uncertainty.
The best times of year to buy your underground storm shelter or above ground tornado safe room is June through October and December through January or so. This is typically the best time of year, however, should a big storm develop and cause damage during one of these months, it of course no longer applies because demand will shoot through the roof. Right after storm season, we may still be catching up orders from the demand spike but the months mentioned above are a good rule of thumb.
To conclude, the best time to get a tornado shelter or safe room is as soon as you possibly can. This is not hype, it’s simply a fact that severe storms like a Huntsville tornado can take place at any time of year, not just in April or November like many people have become accustomed to. However, if you have to wait and want to know the best time of year to buy your unit, purchase before the peak so you don’t get caught up in the production nightmare that can occur when everyone wants their units at the same time.
The truth is you never know exactly when a tornado will strike, which is why you don’t want to put off ordering your storm shelter or tornado safe room – even when the weather out is pleasant! Make sure your family is safe and has peace of mind BEFORE the next outbreak of severe weather hits…
– Hans Schoff
PS> Did you get your free WeatherCall@Home subscription yet? Just fill out the form on the right of this page for your custom, reliable weather alert service (specific to your home, not your whole county) so you know when it’s necessary to use your storm shelter or tornado safe room. Don’t be caught off guard!
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. 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)
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.
You can enter from your house without having to get wet or subjected to the outside elements (assuming your garage is attached to your home and has a garage door)
You can also use a safe room to store valuables like guns, jewelry, important documents, etc as you would use a safe (you may want to consider installing a deluxe model safe room for this purpose if you’d like a little thicker walls and three heavy-duty Medeco deadbolts to make it that much harder to break into)
Easy access in and out for those who may be wheelchair-bound or have difficulty going up and down stairs
The All Weather Safe Room can just as easily be uninstalled as it is installed if you decide to move and want to take your tornado safe room with you
Each of the All Weather Safe Rooms comes standard at 80 inches high, giving you plenty of head space, again making it very easy to enter and exit
All Weather Safe Rooms also have vertical doors that open inward in case a strong storm hits and causes part or all of your garage to collapse around you (which, being surrounded by your garage is likely to happen) so that you’re able to easily climb out after the storm
The ability to choose a custom size (down to the inch) and door location for safe room, for as few as 3 adults to as many as 100 (10×50 foot safe room, ie, our community safe room) as the All Weather Safe Rooms are custom built for each customer
You do not have a suitable location for an above-ground storm shelter
You “feel” safer being underground that above-ground.
You’d like a more economical option to give you more space for your dollar. An underground storm shelter is likely to give you more space as metal is more expensive than fiberglass, saving you as much as $1,000 depending on which storm shelter you choose
You prefer to be outside in the open to decrease your chances of the building around you collapsing on top of you
You have neighbors or family who you also want to easily be able to get into your storm shelter
You want to protect up to 20 adults in one location, underground
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.
As you’re likely aware from our Lifesaver Storm Shelter Models & Benefits page, we offer a wide range of both underground storm shelters and above-ground safe rooms, from our smallest 4-adult storm shelter to our largest tornado safe rooms that protect up to 100 people (10 x 50 foot tornado safe room). I wanted to put together a quick post to show some of the differences between the smaller Lifesaver storm shelter models (vs the bigger LS-8, LS-10, LS-12 or LS-20 models) in how they are installed to address a few questions that people have had about they are installed.
Since we haven’t yet filmed one of the smaller units (LS-4 or LS-6) being installed – and since they have a slightly different install process due to their smaller volume, size and shape and therefore differing buoyancy factors – I wanted to go through the process of installing an LS-6 Lifesaver shelter and show some pictures to help you better understand the process for those interested.
LS-6 Storm Shelter Install Process
The first step is for the customer to call their call-before-you-dig number (in Alabama it’s usually 8-1-1). They will then come out at no cost to mark where underground utilities, etc are in proximity to the location of the storm shelter so that there are no surprises when we start digging the hole. 😉
Then we begin digging the hole, approximately 10 feet by 12 feet (depending on the location) some 6 feet deep. We shoot grade to make sure the bottom of the hole is the right depth and prepare the tornado shelter to be lowered into the hole (bigger models require bigger, deeper holes).
The Main LS-4 & LS-6 Lifesaver Storm Shelter Install Differences
For the LS-4 and LS-6 underground tornado shelter models, this means threading 9-foot long, 2-inch steel pipes through the bottom of the tornado shelters as you can see in the photos. This is part of the anchoring system which is engineering and designed to have 2 fiberglass panels on either side of the shelter sitting on top of the steel pipes to help anchor and keep the shelter in it’s installed location (so it doesn’t float up or move around).
The larger Lifesaver storm shelters (LS-8 and above) require a heavier anchoring system which is why we use an 8-inch thick concrete pad underneath the shelter or preformed 2000 and 3000 lb concrete blocks with straps or chains as their buoyancy factor is greater. That concrete would be overkill and unnecessary for the smaller LS-4 and LS-6 Lifesaver storm shelters however and would also unnecessarily increase the cost for the customer.
So once the fiberglass panels are in properly, the tornado shelter is level and correctly in place, we backfill the dirt into the hole to bury the underground storm shelter, leaving the dirt around it a few inches high in order to compensate for some of the dirt that will settle (it will take a few rains to really compact and settle the dirt; the shelter does not settle or move, only some of the dirt on top).
On Dec 1, 2011 the creators and manufacturers of the All Weather Safe Room decided to donate a tornado safe room to a young couple in Madison, Alabama after their home was completely demolished during the April 27, 2011 Huntsville tornado. All that remained of their property was a make-shift tornado safe room they had created out of cinder-block – luckily for their sake, it held up, if only barely…
Flash.org and CNN got wind of the story and decided to bring out their camera crews to also record this wonderful event. We also were able to capture some great footage of the entire install process from unloading the tornado safe room off the trailer to locating it in place and installing it in Kevin’s garage, which you can view below.
As you’ll hear in another video regarding these All Weather Safe Rooms, the installation process is such that you can actually install the tornado shelter in your garage and should you decide to move, you can actually just call us up and we can reinstall your tornado safe room if you like to take the safe room with you to your next house. Or, you can leave it in place and add approximately $10,000 to the value of your home as in the case of the tornado safe room as configured in the video below.
Once installed, the All Weather Safe Room can not only protect you as a tornado safe room from severe weather as mentioned, but it can also double as a safe (to store valuables like guns, ammunition, precious metals, coins, and other valuables) as well as a panic room in case of burglarly. (We can also custom build safe rooms to guard against fire and larger bullets, if desired).
Watch the video below which shows the complete installation process for our All Weather Safe Room, the premiere tornado safe room:
At the beginning of December, CNN showed up to film the install of one of our All Weather Safe Rooms – an above-ground 1/4-inch thick metal tornado safe room – for the Harrisons, who’s home was completely destroyed by the tragic storms of April 2011. The only thing left of their house was the safe room that saved their life, as you’ll see in the video below. Due to the compelling nature and circumstances for this young family, All Weather Safe Rooms in partnership with their local Norther Alabama dealer Lifesaver Storm Shelters of North Alabama decided to donate a 4×6 metal tornado safe room, installed and bolted inside the garage of their new house to ensure they’ll be safe in case another storm were to come their way in the future.
Kevin and Adrian are grateful they had a tornado safe room in the garage of their old house for as scary as it was to go through such a devastating storm – with two very young children no less – they survived and live to tell the story to make sure others know of the importance of having a safe place to go when severe weather strikes, as they now do with their new tornado safe room.
Regardless if you’re young or old, the color of your skin, your financial or employment status, a Huntsville tornado can strike anyone here in the Tennessee valley and surrounding areas and it’s important for the safety of your family that you have a safe, secure place to go when the time comes.
What’s great about a tornado safe room is not only will it protect you and provide you shelter from the storm, but it also can be a panic room as well as a safe. With all the burglaries around town lately, a tornado safe room could serve as your personal panic room where you could enter and simply deadbolt the three deadbolt locks behind you to ensure you and your valuable are safe and give you a safe place and time to contact the local law enforcement. The All Weather Safe Rooms can also protect against fire and bullets as well, again a perfect place to secure your title deeds, insurance paperwork, savings, jewelry or precious metals, guns, ammunition, computer backup files, and other important paperwork and belongings. One place for everything (and you can also lock it from the outside when leaving the house or going out of town in case you want to protect such items when you’re not at home.
Another way you can help ensure your safety is to subscribe to our free WeatherCall @Home service by simply entering your details in the form on the right of this page. WeatherCall @Home will alert you when severe weather is approaching your exact home or business (whatever address you give it) with a phone call, text message and email message to make sure you get the notice you need when you need it if your family or business’ safety is at risk.
Watch the different videos below from a few of the networks covering the All Weather tornado Safe Room install we completed at the beginning of December below:
With as great a product as the underground Lifesaver storm shelter is, why would we now be promoting another storm shelter/safe room product?
First of all, if you’re searching for a product that can keep you safe from severe weather underground, the Lifesaver Storm Shelter is exactly the underground shelter you’re looking for. It exceeds all FEMA guidelines and has a lifetime warranty so you know it’s safe; it’s comfortable and clean on the inside thanks to it’s fiberglass build and brilliant-white epoxy gel coating; it’s flat and doesn’t stick out in your yard like a sore thumb like some other storm shelters; it’s easy to open, get in and secure and it’s also very affordable, starting at $3,500 for our LS-4 Lifesaver storm shelter INSTALLED!
But what if you’d prefer to be in a storm shelter above ground? What if you have some extra space in your garage suitable for a sturdy, solid, steel tornado safe room?
What if you have difficulty moving around or have a wheelchair, walker or cain that you rely on?
What if in addition to providing protection and shelter from the storm for you and your family (from a Huntsville tornado or a Tennessee tornado for example), you’d also like to store your valuables and important possessions?
What if you’d like the option to have protection from fire, theft or even bullets?
You see, an above ground safe room is like a big safe AND a storm shelter all in one. For the majority of the time you can store your guns, weapons, precious metals, jewelry, family heirlooms, important documents and computer data, etc to protect them from burglers, bullets and fire. However, when severe weather approaches and your WeatherCall@Home custom alert service notifies you that a storm is headed directly toward your home, YOU can also take shelter from the storm in your safe room (enter your information into the form on the top right of this page to get WeatherCall@Home for FREE as a visitor to our website).
This tornado safe room can be installed as a hidden room as well (for new construction homes) where most people will not even know about it, hidden behind a fake wall or door. Most installations however are done after the home has been completed (requires a slab foundation for anchoring the tornado safe room to your foundation and enough access to place the safe room in it’s place to be installed). For this reason, we install most safe rooms in the garage or even on the back concrete porch if there’s too little room in the garage (safe rooms start at 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet tall – visit our tornado safe room page for full details).
Some of our customers who desire extra protection and peace of mind have chosen to even install both an underground shelter with one of our All Weather tornado safe rooms over the entrances to their underground storm shelters. Now, as far as protection from severe weather like tornadoes, this is overkill. One or the other would protect you from a storm. But if you wanted the additional space underground and the advantage of being protected from bullets and fire and having a place to store your valuables, you’ve got it all in one place. Again, for most people this is not necessary, but it something we can do if you like (see photos below).