Storm shelters are a must when you live in tornado alley especially when faced with the reality of the recent storms that hit Moore, OK and its surrounding area. Building a new construction custom home allows you the flexibility to choose where you want your storm shelter located: above or below ground.
First, let’s talk safety. Which one offers more protection? Most people think that underground shelters are safer than above ground shelters. According to Tom Bennett, president of the National Storm Shelter Association, there hasn’t been a case, yet, of either an above ground or below ground shelter failing in the Moore tornado storm. Larry Tanner, Texas Tech University Department of Construction Engineering and Engineering Technology, said “In my 15 years of doing storm damage research and storm shelter research, we have never documented any deaths or injuries in above ground tested safe-rooms or failures of tested safe-rooms. This includes the storms of Joplin 2011 and Moore 2013”. There was rumor that you could only survive this tornado if you were underground, but put to the true test, the above ground shelters did their job and saved lives! So, bottom line: no one has ever been killed in an approved safe room whether above or below ground.
Secondly, one of the main concerns people have is WHERE can their storm shelter go? Above ground storm shelters can go almost anywhere in your home including a closet, pantry, or your garage. Underground storm shelters can go in your carport, patio, garage, or yard, but let me just say, I always suggest installing a storm shelter INSIDE the home or garage because having one outside will expose you to lightning, hail, extreme winds and dangerous debris which may prohibit you from quickly getting you and your family to safety. I suggest putting your underground shelter inside your garage which can be installed flush; allowing any vehicle to park over it. The nice thing about underground shelters is that they take up little to no room which frees up valuable square footage.
And third, there are a few pros and cons to consider between above ground and below ground storm shelters. One draw back with underground shelters is that you face the risk of debris blocking the exit, or flooding. Above ground shelters have more positives than negatives. Depending on the model and installed location, above ground shelters can be relocated if you move. They can also accommodate wheelchair accessibility. And depending on the model, an above ground storm shelter can double as a gun safe, vault or safe room. Both above ground and below ground storm shelters can add value to your home. It’s also a perk that not all homes have and may sway a buyer to choose you’re home over another. They come in many sizes to fit your needs and prices vary greatly from company to company, you just have to shop around; just make sure the shelter company you are going with properly anchors their shelters, have their shelters tested by Texas Tech University Wind Research Center, and are known to meet or exceed the strength requirements of FEMA specifications.
When planning ahead for your family’s safety, it’s always good to do your homework. I don’t think you can choose wrong when deciding between an above ground or below ground storm shelter. It really just comes down to a personal choice…a choice that will give you the peace of mind that you and your family will be safe from the storms.