Building a Storm Shelter:
Tips for Building Your Own Shelter

Building a storm shelter is a great way to provide a safe place for you and your family. There are several things to consider when planning and designing your shelter.

First Considerations for Building a Storm Shelter

One of the first things to consider is the type of natural disaster you are protecting yourself from. Most people build storm shelters to protect themselves from wind events such as tornadoes or hurricanes. These shelters are typically built out of cement or steel and buried or enclosed in earthen berms.

The area that you are installing these shelters should have a bearing on how and what you build. If you are in a low-lying area that is prone to flooding, then you will not want to go with a underground structure.

Access Considerations

If you are in a safe area for underground shelters, then you should consider the placement of your shelter. When you need the shelter, it will be immediate or very close to immediate, so make sure that the shelter is close and accessible to your primary exit doors.

There is usually very little time to get to the shelter once you realize or are alerted to impending danger. So it is very important to make sure you have quick, unimpeded access.

The access door should be a strong and easily accessible door that is securable from the inside and not impede your quick entry. The door should never be blocked or covered with anything.

Design Features

The design should allow for enough space to accommodate your family and pets without cramping. Most commercially available units start at 6 feet by 8 feet. This should be a minimum size to consider.

The design of the shelter needs to incorporate a few basic safety features as well.

Proper air exchange is critical. Be sure to incorporate a ventilation system that will exchange the air in a timely manner without relying on electricity. The purpose of a storm shelter is to protect you from danger, not create new dangers!

The design should also incorporate enough storage space to keep a few essentials. Things such as bottled water, some canned goods, flashlights, and a weather radio should be included.

In most cases, you will only need to be in your shelter for a brief period of time, so don't worry about taking up precious space with unnecessary supplies. The main purpose of a storm shelter is to protect you and your loved ones during a brief severe weather event.

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