A Tornado Shelter May Save Your Life

Topeka, Kansas

May 21, 2011
May 21, 2011 | Source

U.S. Tornadoes

A tornado shelter might have saved many lives in the past few years as a record number of tornadoes hit the Midwest in numerous states. The sale of small residential shelters, also known as safe rooms, has increased dramatically. Apparently manufacturers are barely able to keep up with demands, especially in the states that have been hit the hardest.

Every year approximately 1000 tornadoes hit the U.S., which is more than any other country. Tornado winds are the fastest on earth and tornadoes can jump around, so you can’t predict its path with any certainty. Some storms are actually very quiet, while others roar through like a train. The noise usually depends on what the storm hits. The color of a tornado usually matches the color of the ground.

Hardest Hit States

The top 10 state list for the number of tornadoes:

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • South Dakota
  • Louisiana

America's Tornado Alley

In 2011, 1,691 deadly tornadoes hit across the United States and the death toll is 358, and 161 individuals died just in Joplin, Missouri. This year more than 60 people have died in the twisters. In Maplesville, Alabama there is a dome shaped shelter which held 50 people in January, as a tornado ripped through their town and no one died. The problem with large shelters is sometimes twisters arrive before people can get to the shelter. However, since 2005, FEMA has built 31 community shelters in Missouri with more under construction, which has saved countless lives.

Many states are also giving rebates of up to $1000 for people adding a safe room on their property. Arkansas alone has processed 16,000 rebate checks. The amount of home and property loss is probably incalculable. As we’ve all seen in the news reports on TV, people are left standing in a pile of rumble with virtually nothing left to reclaim.

The area hard hit by tornadoes is referred to as America’s Tornado Alley. In preceding generations, homes were often built with safe rooms of concrete in storm cellars or buried in the back yard. Homes are often built now without basements, which may leave only a bathtub as a place to hide.

U. S. Tornado Alley


Installed Underground Tornado Lifesaver Storm Shelter

Garage Safe Rooms

New safe rooms are often being installed in garages, utilizing thick steel walls and doors that can stand against winds up to 250 miles per hour. They do not typically have electricity, as power lines would be down in those strong winds anyway. There are no windows, of course. They tornado shelters can be bolted to the floor of a garage or custom made to fit in a small area, like a closet. People use flashlights, bottled water, and a radio while they ride out the storm. This type of structure will run in the range of $3,500 to $6,000. Most of them hold only a few people.

Tornado Video 2012: Unbelievable Footage Shows Survival, Devastating Loss

Tornado Shelter

Granger Plastics In-ground Tornado Shelter
Granger Plastics In-ground Tornado Shelter

The modular unit is constructed from durable polyethylene material, thus making it practically maintenance free and nearly indestructible. Many features including articulating handrails, carpet, battery operated lighting system, molded in seating, triple locking aluminum door and stainless steel hardware. The polymer construction of the unit allows the unit to have a very long 1000+ year lifespan and limited lifetime warranty provides decades of protection from harm, for many generations to come. The Granger ISS Tornado Shelter exceeds FEMA 320 Debris Impact testing.


In Conclusion

At least storm shelters provide safety for the family in the home. They don’t protect the house itself, or all the things we all accumulate over the course of our lives. Some states have toughened up their building codes. Florida changed theirs after 4 hurricanes hit the state in 2004. It still doesn’t insure no damage to your home, but it may limit the amount of damage. Some things can’t really be replaced, but the most important thing is saving the lives of your family.

Article(C) April 30, 2012 by Pamela Oglesby. All rights reserved.

Tornado Storm Shelter

If you live in a area where there are tornadoes would you buy a safe room?

See results without voting

More by this Author

Comments 43 comments

BusinessTime profile image

BusinessTime 4 years ago from Twin Cities

I live in Minneapolis, and I'm currently renting a first-floor location that requires me to go OUTSIDE in order to get to the basement. Needless to say, I'm a lot less nervous than I was last year, where I had the same basement situation but I lived in an attic with a ton of skylights!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I don't live in a tornado-prone area, but a storm/disaster type shelter is a good idea for anyone to consider building, for the security it provides.

This hub is excellent and I'm sure very appreciated by those who are repeatedly threatened/effected by tornadoes and other devastating blows from Mother nature. UP++

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I am in total agreement with your hub facts and advise on the safe room feature. I lived in tornado alley most of my life, it is a way of life and the better prepared you are the better your chances for survival. Voted up, up!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I'm very grateful I live in the Pacific Northwest. Stories told to me by my parents, who grew up in Iowa, were enough to convince me that I am right where I need to be! Very good information!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Business Time, I can understand why you would feel safer now. Thank you for your comments.

fpherj, I think it is a good idea in many areas of the country. When I was growing up in Lakewood, Ohio many bad storms came off of Lake Erie and when tornado warnings were issued we always went to the basement. Thanks for your comments.

teaches, I couldn't agree with you more. I appreciate your comments.

billybuc, It does sound like you are in a safer area of the country, no hurricanes either. Thanks for your comments.

Golfgal profile image

Golfgal 4 years ago from McKinney, Texas

Yes, I agree. I have a hub on What Food Goes into a Storm Shelter Kit. I linked you into mine. I would love it if you linked into mine as well. I live in Dallas Texas area and we had 16 tornadoes recently. We dodged that bullet where I live, but it was a scary time.

debbiepinkston profile image

debbiepinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

Last fall I had a storm shelter installed in my garage. It is steel and cost around $4000. It was well worth the peace of mind!

Thanks for a great hub that may save some lives.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I live in central Oklahoma, and right now am keeping an eye on the TV in case my town should be in the direct path of a storm coming from the west-southwest which MIGHT produce a tornado. Earlier this evening, tornadoes did hit along the OK-KS border. Many more tornadoes "down here" than we ever had when I lived in Kansas!

I don't have a basement, but CAN go to the shelter across the way. I'd really like to have one of those in-ground units that one OKC TV station has been giving away, but since I rent I really have no place to put it if I did win one. So I'll keep the TV on until all warnings expire!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Golgal, I'd be happy to link your article into mine. Having 16 tornadoes is nerve wracking! Thanks for your comments.

Debbie, Peace of mind means a lot! I appreciate your comments.

JamaGenee, Getting to the shelter in time is most important and I would leave my TV on also. Hope the tornadoes stop happening as summer arrives. Thanks for your comments.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

The tornado that hit here last May was devastating. I had to have a new roof, plus a new shed, three rooms had to be painted due to leaking, even though it was covered with that blue plastic. I have a safe place now in the middle of the house. I lost a beautiful old oak tree, it was not covered by my insurance because it didn't hit my house. Thank you for sharing your article..

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Living in Florida, Pamela, we have our share of hurricanes but at least we are warned of their approach. Not so, with tornadoes which makes them such killer storms. As that heartbreaking video shows.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I'm glad you have a safe room now. I hope you are never in the path of a tornado again. Thanks for your comments.

drbj, I agree. We do have a chance to leave home if necessary. Tornadoes are horrible. I appreciate your comments.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

Actually I don't believe I live in a tornado area but every once in a while I hear about a tornado touching down not far from me. It really is the exception to the rule, but I think I would enjoy having a safe room just for the hell of it. Great hub, Pamela. Up, interesting, useful and awesome.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

BPOP, It does seem like tornadoes are hitting a lot of states that don't typically get them, although the bulk of them are in tornado alley. We talked about a room because of hurricanes but you might have to be in there for quite a long time. Thanks for the comments.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

Definitely a good investment to either build a safe room in the house or buy a tornado shelter. I can only imagine how scary it can be, especially for those living in the tornado alley. Out here, we're in constant danger of wild fires and earthquake--natural disasters that you've no control over. Great hub.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I just found out this afternoon there's NO central storm shelter in out cul-de-sac, only our own bathtubs. Oh joy... Guess I won't donate all those old comforters and pillows to Goodwill after all.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

anginwu, It seems like there is some danger from mother nature no matter where you live. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

JamaGenee, That is not good news. Hope the city builds a shelter. Thanks for your comments.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

I am lucky to live in England where we don't get these storms, but I have seen the footage of how devastating they are, on TV. If I lived in an area where we were constantly hit I would definitely get one of those storm shelters in the video, as you mentioned they may not save a lot of household stuff but would certainly save lives and that's the most important thing. Voted up and shared, nell

Jenna Pope profile image

Jenna Pope 4 years ago from Southern California

This is such a good article. You may have saved some lives! Voted up.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Nell, I never hear about horrible storms in England, just rain. I think the shelter is worth buying even for peace of mind. Thanks for your comments.

Jenna, Thank you so much for your comments.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I live in Florida like yourself, and have never seen a tornado, thank goodness. Our hurricanes are scary enough, but we do have warnings. I just hope we get by another season with NO hurricanes. Very informative Hub; well researched. I'll vote it UP, etc.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Mary, I hope we will get through another season without hurricanes also. They are scary and the year we had 4 hit the state was a time of great stress for days on end for so many people. It's true we do get a warning however, and that can save your life. Thanks for your comments.

John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 4 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

A very interesting article, Pamela99. Where I live in eastern Ontario, I couldn't understand why a corner store had been taken over by a couple from the southern states. When I asked the lady - in the middle of winter - why she'd been crazy enough to migrate north, she answered in 2 words; "Tornado Alley".

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

I went from tornadoes in Ohio to hurricanes in Florida. In my opinion, tornadoes are the worst as they come so quickly and without much warning. This is a very interesting and informative hub - the saferooms and tornado shelters are a good idea for those living in "tornado alley." Good ideas and thanks for sharing!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Seeing some of the devastation created by tornadoes on TV, I can't imagine how people could live through one. Whole towns flattened....it's horrible. I've often wondered how many people do have tornado shelters.

GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 4 years ago from USA

Howdy Pamela99 - Thanks for the article and the scary video. I went through a bunch of twisters one time and was not even aware of it. That is, the train I was on went through the storms. It was a shock to see the damage these things cause.

Gus :-)))

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Gus, That sounds like a terrifying ride even though you weren't aware of it. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

John, I can understand why someone would choose to avoid tornadoes. Thanks for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

That is exactly what I did and I agree with your assessment. I appreciate your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

I hate seeing the devastation on TV. I feel so sorry for the people who have lost everything. Thanks for your comments.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

Pam, I have lived all but about five years of life in one part of tornado alley or another...never had a shelter of any kind. Down south, many folks use to dig root cellars near their houses as cover. Personally, I like the safe room concept built into the house...easier to get to and a lot less wild critters crawl into it. Most people who have lived in these areas have grown apathetic over time. Good write on your part on a very important topic. thanks....WB

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Wayne, My husband who grew up in the south has talked about having a root cellar that could be used for many things, including shelter. I think if I lived in that area I would opt for a safe room in the house if possible. Thanks for your comments.

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

Pamela99, great article. Very useful information for anyone in danger areas. 2012 has had some wild weather. I live in West Virginia, which is an area that usually don't see tornadoes. In early March, 2 touched down about 20-30 miles from where I live. It was an eye opener. Storms are more severe these days and if the conditions are right, anywhere could see a tornado. Sound advice, even if you think you live in a safe area.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

We live in Wisconsin so we have a basement. When I was a kid I can remember my uncle running into the bedroom and jerking my cousin and I out of bed and we had to head down the road to a shelter in the ground. Which I guess was a root cellar. It was big there was more than one family in it.

My family lives in tornado alley and they don't have shelters. If I lived there I would want something underground.

We spent one vacation there and all we did was run for shelter.

Voted Up.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

thelyricwriter, I agree that storms are now showing up in places that you wouldn't expect. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

moonlake, I grew up in Cleveland and we ran to the basement a few times as the storms would come off the lake very suddenly. If I lived in tornado alley I would prefer under graoud also, but a safe room in a garage apparently is quite secure. Thanks for your comments.

debbiepinkston 4 years ago

I have the storm shelter in the garage, and I guess I'll never know how effective it is unless a tornado comes through. Hoping I don't have to find out, but it's there just in case. It gives me some peace of mind.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

debbiepinkston, I hope that won't happen but I imagine you feel more secure just knowing it's there. Thanks for your comments.

Hot Rod Loves You profile image

Hot Rod Loves You 4 years ago from Houston, TX.

This was really awesome. Not everyone has a tornado shelter but I do agree with you that they could provide a great deal of safety if one was available. I was in Dallas Texas about a month ago when three or four tornadoes went through that area. I was so close to one of them that I thought I was going to need another hat! LOL. I know someone upstairs was looking out for me that day.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Hot Rod, Glad the tornado missed you. I appreciate your comments and love your name.

Hot Rod Loves You profile image

Hot Rod Loves You 4 years ago from Houston, TX.

Thanks Pamela you are very sweet to say that:)

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

My pleasure.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article