Storm shelters: consider the safety not the cost
June 10, 2011
Recent devastating tornadoes are causing many area residents to take a closer look at their vulnerability to nature's wrath and making better preparations to survive future storms.

According to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension, having a shelter or 'safe room' built into or near the home can help protect families from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds.

"All of Missouri is in Wind Zone IV, meaning wind gusts from severe storms can exceed 250 miles per-hour. The number of recorded tornadoes is 5-15 per 2,470 square miles for much of the state," said Schultheis.

Combining these factors places the entire state at a high risk level that Schultheis says warrants a shelter as the "preferred method of protection."

The shelter or safe room should be free of clutter and readily accessible from all parts of the house. It must be located in a flood-free area, well-anchored to resist overturning and uplift, and the walls, roof and door made strong enough to resist penetration by wind-borne missiles.

"Common house construction techniques based on minimum building codes generally don't provide adequate protection. Most Missouri counties do not have even these minimum building codes," said Schultheis.

The downloadable four-page guide, available here includes advice on building a shelter or safe room for your home or small business. It also includes links to online resources, a list of storm shelter manufacturers serving Missouri and a sample blueprint of a storm cellar.

"Whether you build a shelter or not, two important steps you can take to protect your family are to prepare an emergency plan for dealing with disaster situations and put together an emergency supply kit for home, business and each vehicle," said Schultheis.

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