tornado storm shelter

How to Buy a Storm Shelter in Texas

Jim Bauer Emergency Preparedness

tornado storm shelterStorm season is never far away. With the storms that hit the Dallas area in the last few months of 2015 and so far this spring, many people are preparing themselves for future tornadoes. A few older homes have old-fashioned storm cellars, but modern homes increasingly do not. Homeowners in Texas are now trying to play catch-up before the next set of storms comes along. Considering some of the problems with old storm cellars, people who live in older homes may want to consider an upgrade.

Tornadoes in Texas

In late December of 2015, a deadly string of tornadoes rolled through a large part of the country, including the DFW metroplex. Many area residents were devastated, and at least 11 people died. While you may not be able to prevent a tornado or the resulting damage, it is possible to protect your family by installing a storm shelter.

Has The Shelter Been Tested?

Storm shelters are spaces designed to withstand high winds and flying debris. They tend to be built from materials such as reinforced concrete or steel. FEMA does not have any sort of endorsement for storm shelters, but there are independent groups that conduct testing. Most testing is done at the Wind Institute at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. When considering storm shelters, make sure the one you get has been tested and approved.

Under or Above Ground?

Whether you buy a storm shelter in Texas that is a safe room type of shelter or an underground shelter may depend entirely on your terrain. In some places it is difficult to put anything underground because of the water table. If you are constructing a new house, you may find it easier to install the safe room type of shelter in your home where it can double as a closet or storage room when not being used. However, if your home is already built when you decide to buy a storm shelter in Texas, and the ground is suitable, it may be easier to have a hole dug and the underground type installed.

What To Keep In Your Shelter

Many storm shelters, especially the prefabricated kind, tend to be quite small. Some storm shelters measure as small as six by eight feet. Despite the lack of space, there are amenities or at least supplies that you should consider having in your storm shelter. For example, a higher end storm shelter may have water and electricity. However, severe storms are likely to cut off access to utilities. So whether you have utilities in your shelter or not, it’s wise to have a few storage items such as flashlights with extra batteries, food, water, blankets and a radio. If your home falls down around your shelter, your family may be safe from the storm but still be unable to get out until help arrives. You should be prepared to stay a while. Check out our Storm Survival Kit Checklist for more suggestions.

Whatever shelter you choose, ultimately, the end goal is to keep yourself and your family safe, so choose wisely.

What If I'm Not Home?

What do you do if you're out when a severe storm hits? Read our tips on how to create an Emergency Evacuation Plan.