The Simple Guide to Storm Shelters | OKC Shelters, Call Today!

2501 SW 15th Street, Suite C

Oklahoma City, OK 73108

OKC Storm and Tornado shelter experts.

 

Tornado Guide

 

simple-guide-storm-shelters

Mildly destructive at best, tornadoes can turn deadly in the blink of an eye. The high winds from twisters can turn any object into a deadly missile, overturn cars and flatten homes. Storm shelters have proven to be the most effective way of staying safe from tornadoes, but what are the details about storm shelters? Is it worth having one in your home?

Here are a few of the most common questions about storm shelters and the answers you should know.

Do Storm Shelters Work?

Tornado shelters have proven to save countless lives. In the instance of an EF5 tornado, a shelter is the only documented place to ensure complete safety.

Approved storm shelters that meet FEMA standards and are tested by the National Wind institute are guaranteed to protect you from any debris or tornado damage up to 250 mph winds. The devastating EF5 tornado that ravaged Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th, 2013 had winds topping out at 210 miles per hour.

Do Storm Shelters Increase a Home’s Value?

The value a storm shelter adds to your home can vary in different housing markets. If your home is in ‘tornado alley’, then the addition of a storm shelter is a definite plus and can add up to $2,000 to the value of your home. The most value comes from the ‘perceived’ value it provides. If a buyer is choosing between your home and another one, your home will have the distinct advantage because of the storm shelter. After all, safety is extremely important in tornado prone areas.

Also, in most instances, an appraiser will give additional credit for a shelter.

How Much Do Storm Shelters Cost?

storm shelter cost

Although prices differ depending on what shelter professionals you work with, they usually range between $3,000 and $9,000. For an example, here are our prices listed:

  • In-ground outdoor concrete shelters range from $2,900 to $4,800.
  • In-ground steel garage shelters from $2,900 – 5,350
  • Steel safe rooms go from $3,600 - $6,500
  • Concrete safe rooms usually hover around the $4,500 range.

Additional costs can include concrete stamping and staining for decorative purposes, or taller ceilings.

How Long Does It Take to Install a Storm Shelter?

outside concrete storm shelter

The average installation time for both below and above ground shelters is about 3 to 4 hours.

What Is the Best Kind of Storm Shelter?

Any above or below ground FEMA approved shelters that are tested, will give you the highest chance of surviving an EF5 tornado. Concrete can hold water and eventually leak, fiberglass is used only below ground and are not as strong as other shelters, as well as being susceptible to cracking. Steel is often the best and most long-lasting choice for a shelter.

Do Storm Shelters Fail?

Old and outdated shelters that are not up to current FEMA code can potentially have issues with the integrity of the product. Do-It-Yourself shelters can also be dangerous if not installed correctly.

Can You DIY a Storm Shelter?

For those home improvement experts, the price of a do it yourself storm shelter will still run a minimum of $3,000. You will need to buy certain supplies and rent equipment, including digging equipment, in order to put a DIY shelter together. There is also no way to know if DIY shelters can withstand a high impact tornado, since it has not been tested to do so.

How Big of a Tornado Will a Storm Shelter Protect Against?

tornado speed wind

All storm shelters are safe against EF5 tornadoes with up to 250 mph winds, if they have been tested at the Debris Impact Facility at the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. No one has been killed by debris in an approved storm shelter.

More information on what these shelters can protect against and how they test them can be found on the NWI website: Click Here

Do Underground Storm Shelters Flood?

There is only one instance of a woman in Oklahoma drowning in her shelter after unprecedented rainfall. This record rainfall reported 8 inches of rain in only a 24-hour period, causing the city to issue its first-ever flash flood emergency bulletin. It is also not known the age or structure of her shelter.

Can You Get Trapped in Your Storm Shelter?

tornado damage

Tyler, our resident storm shelter expert said this on safety precautions to avoid this happening.

 “There are safety measures in the in-garage units. You can un-bolt the back portion of the door. However, our advice for all shelters is, if it's blocked and you’re safe, then wait for help. You never know what's blocking it and forcing the door open could cause materials, or debris to come in the shelter and hurt you. Immediately after a tornado, emergency crews go door to door looking for people trapped in shelters. That's why it's important to add a whistle to your storm shelter kit.”

It is imperative to register your storm shelter, so emergency responders can reach you as quickly as possible. Depending on the severity of the tornado and extent of damage caused, it may take up to a couple of days for emergency services to get to you, which is why FEMA says to stock your shelter with necessary supplies for up to three days.

To register your storm shelter in these cities, just follow these links:

Edmond

Moore

Nichols Hills

Norman

Oklahoma City

Can You Get Any Grants or Rebates for Storm Shelters?

The Oklahoma program Soonersafe for a storm shelter. The money comes from the federal governments unused FEMA funds, and only takes so many applications a year. Soonersafe uses the lottery system and will pick from applicants at random.

In the past, Red Cross and FEMA have had rebate programs for areas recently affected by large tornadoes, but those are not in place at the moment.

Certain Tribal Nations have programs to assist Tribal Members in getting a storm shelter. For example, here are the Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation shelter programs.

What Items Should You Bring with You Inside a Storm Shelter?

Having a pre-made emergency kit is critical in times of severe weather. These emergency kits need to be kept well-stocked, updated and easily accessible - but preferably kept in your storm shelter. Depending on how many items you put in your kit, the essentials can be put together for a small cost, and any size kit is worth having.

The Department of Homeland Security has a list of what any emergency kit for a natural disaster should hold. This list, as well as additional information can be found at here at ready.gov

When putting together your emergency disaster kit, think of specific items you may need for you or your family members. Children, seniors and pets may need additional items. Necessary medications should be kept in an easily accessible place to grab quickly in the event of a tornado.

After a tornado strikes, it could take hours or days for first responders to reach you, so ensure that you have enough supplies. The Department of Homeland Security states that your kit needs to have enough water, food and supplies for each person for at least 3 days.

  • Water- one gallon of water per person per day for 3 days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – 3 days of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

The following items are listed as additional items that may be necessary

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveller’s checks
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Another important tip is to keep important documents in a safe place, either electronically or in a waterproof portable container. Identification, birth and marriage certificates, wills, bank account records, household inventory with pictures, insurance policies and possibly videos of valuable items should be kept safe from tornadoes as well.

storm shelter emergency items

Related: Pets and Storms – 3 Important Tips to Keep Your Animals Safe

The ASPCA (the American Society to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) also gives a guide  of what items to include in an emergency kit for your pet, which needs to be prepared alongside yours. These items include;

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)233dr
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  • Litter or paper toweling
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
  • At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
  • Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter
  • Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner

Storm Shelter Permits

Permits are required for storm shelters in most counties, and the cost is usually around the $50 - $75 range. Here are the permit prices for Oklahoma City:

  • In-ground or slope-top shelter permit - $53.50
  • Above ground safe room $70.50

The steps to acquire a permit varies in each city, but here are the steps to obtain a storm shelter permit in Oklahoma City, as seen on the Oklahoma City development services site.

Step 1

The following information is needed to get a permit. 
**Contact your contractor for these documents.

Step 2

Bring required documents to our office.

  • Submit in person Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 420 W Main St., 8th Floor. Your request will be reviewed while you wait.
  • You can also send your permit request by fax to (405) 297-2178. We will contact you for payment by credit card.

Step 3

Once you have paid for your permit and the shelter has been installed and inspected, you may register it with the City online or by calling the Action Center at (405) 297-2535. You may also request that your shelter be automatically registered on the building permit application in the remarks section of the form.

Further Reading:

With the obvious benefits of tornado shelters, you might ask why more homes don’t have shelters already in place.

The New York Times has a great article concerning this issue: Click Here

National Public Radio also did an informative segment: Click Here

Isn’t it time you had a storm shelter installed in your home?

 

OKC Storm and Tornado shelter experts.
Tornado Guide
simple-guide-storm-shelters
storm shelter cost
outside concrete storm shelter
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Tornado Guide
simple-guide-storm-shelters
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outside concrete storm shelter
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simple-guide-storm-shelters
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outside concrete storm shelter
tornado speed wind
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outside concrete storm shelter
tornado speed wind
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simple-guide-storm-shelters
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outside concrete storm shelter
tornado speed wind
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Tornado Guide
simple-guide-storm-shelters
storm shelter cost
outside concrete storm shelter
tornado speed wind
tornado damage
OKC Storm and Tornado shelter experts.
Tornado Guide
simple-guide-storm-shelters
storm shelter cost
outside concrete storm shelter
tornado speed wind
tornado damage
storm shelter emergency items
OKC Storm and Tornado shelter experts.
Tornado Guide
simple-guide-storm-shelters
storm shelter cost
outside concrete storm shelter
tornado speed wind
tornado damage
storm shelter emergency items
OKC Storm and Tornado shelter experts.
Tornado Guide
simple-guide-storm-shelters
home Improvements of America