Things to Consider When Installing Above-Ground Storm Shelters

When severe weather strikes, having a safe and reliable place to seek shelter is paramount. Above ground storm shelters offer a convenient and accessible option for protecting your family during tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events. To make sure the shelter will work well and meet your needs, there are a few crucial things to think about before constructing one. The main factors to be taken into account while building above-ground storm shelters are covered in this article.

Location and Placement

For your above-ground storm shelter to be safe and convenient, the placement is essential. The shelter should ideally be conveniently located from the major living areas of your house because, in severe weather, time is of the essence. Among the best placement choices are:

  • Garage: Installing the shelter in the garage can provide quick access while keeping it sheltered from debris.
  • Basement or Interior Room: If you have a basement or a large interior room, placing the shelter here can offer additional protection.
  • Outdoor Installations: For those with limited indoor space, an outdoor installation close to the house can still provide effective protection.

Make sure the site is free from possible risks like floods and does not impede normal mobility.

Size and Capacity

The storm shelter’s dimensions and holding power have to be adequate to house every member of the household, including pets. When choosing the right size, take into account the following:

  • Number of Occupants: Count the total number of people and pets who will need to use the shelter.
  • Comfort and Space: Especially if you want to stay in the shelter for a long time, make sure there is enough space for everyone to sit or lie down comfortably.
  • Additional Supplies: Account for storage space for emergency supplies, such as water, food, medical kits, and important documents.

Choosing the right size ensures that everyone can stay safe and comfortable during severe weather.

Structural Integrity and Certification

The primary purpose of an above-ground storm shelter is to provide safety during extreme weather, so its structural integrity is paramount. Look for shelters that meet or exceed the following standards:

  • FEMA Compliance: Make sure that the shelter meets with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) rules regarding home safe rooms.
  • National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) Certification: Shelters certified by the NSSA have been tested and proven to withstand extreme weather conditions, including high winds and flying debris.

Confirming these certifications can provide peace of mind that the shelter will perform effectively when needed.

Materials and Construction

For the shelter to be durable and protective, the building materials and methods employed are essential. Typical materials consist of:

  • Steel: With its reputation for strength and longevity, steel is a common material for storm shelters. It is resilient to being hit by debris and strong winds.
  • Concrete: Reinforced concrete offers excellent protection and is highly resistant to damage from severe weather.
  • Composite Materials: Advanced composite materials are used in certain shelters to balance weight and strength.

While selecting a material, take into account your unique requirements and preferences, as each one has advantages.

Ventilation and Comfort

Being trapped in a confined space during a storm can be uncomfortable and stressful. Proper ventilation is essential to ensuring a breathable environment. Consider the following features:

  • Ventilation Systems: Ensure the shelter has adequate ventilation to provide a continuous supply of fresh air.
  • Temperature Control: If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, consider options for temperature control, such as insulation or air conditioning.

Comfort features can make the experience more bearable, especially during prolonged stays.

Accessibility and Ease of Use

It is essential to have rapid and simple access to the storm shelter in an emergency. Take into consideration the following aspects of accessibility:

  • Entry Points: Ensure the shelter has wide, easy-to-open doors that can accommodate all family members, including those with mobility issues.
  • Ramps or Steps: If the shelter is elevated, include ramps or steps to facilitate easy entry and exit.
  • Lighting: Adequate lighting inside the shelter is essential for visibility, especially during power outages.

In an emergency, these qualities can significantly impact how fast and easily your family can get to the shelter.

Cost and Financing

The size, materials, and extra features of an above-ground storm shelter can have a significant impact on installation costs. When you’re budgeting, consider the following:

  • Initial Cost: The base price of the shelter, including materials and installation.
  • Permits and Inspections: Permits and inspections are necessary in some places, which raises the total cost.
  • Financing Options: Look into financing options or grants that may be available to help offset the cost.

Investing in a storm shelter is a significant expense, but it’s a worthwhile investment in your family’s safety.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Like any other structure, storm shelters require regular maintenance to ensure they remain functional and safe. Consider the following maintenance tasks:

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct periodic inspections to check for structural integrity, door function, and ventilation.
  • Cleaning: Keep the shelter clean and free from debris to maintain a healthy environment.
  • Repairs: Address any damage or wear and tear promptly to ensure the shelter is always ready for use.

Regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your storm shelter and ensure it provides reliable protection.

Local Regulations and Permits

Before installing your storm shelter, research local building codes and regulations. Some areas have specific requirements for storm shelters, including:

  • Permits: You may need to obtain permits before installation.
  • Zoning Laws: Ensure the shelter complies with local zoning laws and building codes.
  • Inspections: Some jurisdictions require inspections to certify that the shelter meets safety standards.

Complying with local regulations can help avoid legal issues and ensure your shelter is up to standard.

Conclusion

One proactive way to make sure your family is safe during severe weather is to install an above-ground storm shelter. You may select the ideal shelter for your needs by carefully weighing elements, including location, size, cost, materials, and structural integrity. You may further guarantee that your shelter will offer dependable protection when it’s most required by maintaining it regularly and according to local laws. You may provide your family with a secure haven that will provide comfort and peace of mind during severe weather occurrences by following these procedures.

James William

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