September 25, 2020

Bucks: Considering a Tornado Shelter

Courtesy of New Day Tornado Shelters

The deadly tornadoes that struck the South last month were historic in their intensity and destruction. In their wake,  makers of storm shelters say, they have been receiving a lot of requests for information from homeowners in tornado-prone areas.

It’s possible to retrofit you house, or to install a prebuilt shelter in your home — depending on how large and elaborate a shelter you want, and how much you can afford.  You’ll pay at least $3,000 for a smallish, premade shelter that is usually anchored to the concrete floor in your garage. The cost would probably be more if you want to create a livable “safe room” in your house that can be double as a storage closet or bathroom. If you’re thinking ahead, building a safe room into a new house from the start would add roughly $5,000 to the cost of the home, said Ernst Kiesling, executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency publishes a guide to building residential safe rooms, with detailed plans as well as specifications for materials and dimensions. Construction costs vary, but materials alone for building an “in house” shelter would probably run at least $2,500, according to one estimate from Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency advises checking with the storm shelter association for its list of approved shelter vendors. The nonprofit association requires that member firms submit engineering evidence verifying that their products meet its standards for strength, ventilation and other specifications. Testing includes firing  projectiles, like two-by-fours, at the shelters to see if they can withstand damage from strong winds. Shelters meeting the standards offer protection from strong tornadoes, with ground-level winds of 250 miles per hour, Dr. Kiesling said.

The association’s current list of about two dozen companies includes the Perfect Storm Shelter, a Mentor, Ohio, company that sells premade metal shelters starting at $3,350, plus shipping, for a small model that fits two to three people. You assemble it yourself and anchor it to the floor, using a wrench, hammer and drill. The models are designed to be anchored to concrete in your garage. They must be installed according to instructions to give proper protection. FlatSafe Tornado Shelters, in Ponca City, Okla., offers a below-ground model, designed to be dropped into a hole dug underneath your garage. You enter the shelter by sliding back a metal plate.  The company couldn’t be reached for pricing information, but the necessary excavation would probably add to the cost.

Perhaps the oddest looking model is offered by New Day Tornado Shelters in Talala, Okla. (pictured above). The above-ground, podlike shelter, resembling a large, portable toilet, can fit several people. They are small, but the idea is that you would be inside it for a relatively short time. The cost is $3,000 installed, plus $1 per mile (one way) for out-of-state destinations. New Day’s owner, Dirk DeRose, said he recently installed one in Lubbock, Tex., and was headed to Alabama for another job.

Do you have a storm shelter in your home? Have you had to use it?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b91d8eb892de83c89643d6d527021b75

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