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Types of Storm Shelters

Updated on October 15, 2014

Types of Storm Shelters to Stay Safe During Tornadoes

It is tornado season, and the best way to stay safe when a twister hits is in a storm shelter. There are so many types of storm shelters including underground and aboveground. Those under the ground are called cellars, in garage storm shelters, basements and shelters. Above ground options include a safe room, or creating your own safe room in your house.

A storm shelter, also known as a storm cellar, is an underground bunker that people use to protect themselves from severe weather situations. Midwest and Southeast states in the US typically use these. For example, storm shelters in Oklahoma are quite common.

While many people feel the only way to be safe during a tornado is under ground, there is good evidence that a safe room is also a viable option, and it has the added benefit of being able to be used as a panic room in case there are intruders in your home.

FEMA has many details on storm shelters and safe rooms. Be sure to check out their information before making a final decision.

Read on for more storm shelter info and also see our page about preppers list of supplies for emergencies!

Storm Shelter Supplies - Emergency Preparedness Items

Here are a few emergency preparedness items you may want to have inside your storm shelter. These are also good to have around just in general in case of emergencies. Items you'll need include food, water, a flashlight and first aid kits. Other items you may want to consider include a water purifier, and a generator as a backup power supply in the case of extended power loss.

Feel free to let us know in the comments section below about any items you have on hand in your shelters now!

Granger Plastics In-ground shelter
Granger Plastics In-ground shelter

Why Add a Storm Shelter to Your House?

The obvious reason to add a storm shelter to your house is to keep you safe during a storm. It is a type of insurance against perishing in a catastrophic tornado. Each year people throughout the U.S. die as a result to these severe storms, and often the difference between life and death could be a simple storm shelter.

While the general advice is to get to the lowest level of your home away from windows, or to get in the bathtub with a mattress covering you, in the most serious severe thunderstorms this is not enough. Just last year, a mother in Peidmont, Oklahoma lost two of her sons even though she followed this advice. Her house took a direct hit, and the tornado pulled her boys out of the bathtub.

Additionally, your storm shelter will add value to your house when it is time to sell. Often in a tornado prone state, the existence of a storm shelter could be the difference between getting a buyer or not. A tornado shelter is nearly a must in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and others.

Cost of Adding a Storm Shelter

The cost of adding a storm shelter ranges widely. First, it depends on where you live. Second, it depends on the size and type you choose. Third, it depends on availability. In general, you can get a cellar-type tornado shelter that is outside your home for about $2,500 plus installation costs. A garage installed storm shelter in the $3,500 to $4,000 range. In home safe rooms can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 or more.

While the cost may seem large, it is small compared to the safety and peace of mind it will provide for you and your household. Even your pets can stay safe in a storm shelter during a tornado or severe thunderstorm. As with nearly anything major with home renovation, most shelters are priced based on your specific situation, so to get an accurate cost estimate, you will have to contact a storm shelter provider in your area.

How to Prepare Your Storm Shelter

Surviving a tornado includes not only the storm shelter, but also preparation.

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Emergency Kits and Supplies

Make sure you're prepared for severe storms ahead of time. Here are some suggested items that you may want to have on hand ahead of the next severe weather warning in your area.

Did your house come with a storm shelter? If so, did it sway your purchase? Have you built your own storm shelter, or know of someone else who did? Feel free to comment below!

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