6 tips for installing a storm shelter
All shelters, regardless of where they’re installed, should fulfill the same basic requirements.
Here are some tips from highly rated installers and Ernst Kiesling, executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association:
1. Shelters should protect against flying debris, provide adequate ventilation and resist tornado-strength wind loads.
2. They should also endure ground-level wind speeds of 250 mph. Shelters need to be anchored to a steel-reinforced concrete slab with strong anchors, such as bolts.
3. Although shelters can be installed outdoors, an indoor or garage-based shelter can be easier to access. Both above-ground and in-ground shelters are available. Above-ground shelters are easier to access if your home includes someone in a wheelchair or someone who might not be able to easily make it downstairs, Kiesling says.
4. Allow at least 5 square feet per person for everyone you expect to use the shelter. A battery-operated unit can help with ventilation, air filtering and lighting.
5. The door is frequently the most vulnerable part of the shelter, so the NSSA recommends one with at least three latches and hinges and strong material construction.
6. FEMA recommends against installing a below-ground shelter if you have high groundwater tables or a likelihood of flooding.