Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Examining Bomb, Tornado and Security Shelters

This is the header from the Security Disasters website.  Scroll right to see entire picture.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
         With a number of deaths occurring this week following tornadoes in Kansas this week, I am receiving questions once again, about shelters.  Before investing a huge sum in such a thing, we all need to do a great deal of research.  We need to make sure that we tailor our responses to the reasonable risks in our area.  I think it unwise to take a second mortgage for an emergency shelter when the fortification of a basement, or a storm cellar might not only be cheaper,  but might financially allow the stocking of more supplies, broadening the overall preparedness of a family.

                  Still, I have promised to mention, some of the companies who will provide emergency shelters. Perhaps a discussion of these, will give you your own ideas.

                 Security Disaster Shelters is a Silverthorne, Colorado  company which is forty years old.
They specialize in the fabrication of steel structures for the purpose of egress from a home,  blast valve sleeves, hatches, blast door components etc.  They also build single and multi-unit emergency shelters.  There is value in visiting the offices and meeting with the people who make such structures, and so I will include many of these contractors so that you may talk to several.

           Security Disaster Shelters
        (970) 468-2125

      They are also associated with

We profiled on another post, so all I will do here, is provide their website:


Our prior post which discussed their company is here: d-about-construction.html


  Deep Earth Bunker is a company which specializes in the creation of everything from tsunami pods, to safe rooms, tornado safety shelters.  Their designs carry a Professional Engineer stamp, who also has a Ph D.  They also can fire proof, and bullet proof existing structures. They claim to be able to provide alternatives on lower budgets also.  They will discuss projects anywhere in the world.



This is the sleeping area of just one of their underground structures.

  Radius Engineering  designs and constructs a variety of in ground structures for worldwide clients. They are a US Dept of Defense contractor who can build anything you need.  They are Texas based.  They can provide pre-made shelters or manufacture these on site.

This is an installation of one of their ready-made units.

Phone: 972.552.2484
Fax: 866.503.3854                    

(6 Ft W x 10 Ft L X 6 Ft H) Seating up to 18 people
*Actual shelter shown, to be installed 100% below ground.
 Exterior colored paint for advertising purposes only.

  Many people who have contacted me lately, aren't looking for a bomb shelter, or hidden shelter per se, as much as they are looking for a tornado shelter, as they have no basement.

Here are some companies who can help with this issue:

Tornado Shelters Inc. for a short period have free delivery anywhere in the US.   They can provide shelters which are focused on tornado sheltering for 10-40 people.  These shelters cost anywhere from $3,000. US to about $17,000. US, and are a great value.

The above prices reflect cash purchase pricing.
Call and ask about our
"Rent To Own" Program!
Payments starting as low as $199.00 per month.      214-686-3696


This excellent information found within the two sets of two undulating lines, came from:

Considerations to keep in mind when looking at commercially made underground shelters:
  • What kind of material is used in its manufacture? Shelters may be made of concrete, steel, fiberglass, or other materials. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, for both installation and long-term use.
  • What style would best suit our needs and situation? There are storm shelters that are meant to be built into a new home, there are storm shelters that are meant to be installed in an existing home, there are storm shelters that are meant to be installed in the ground adjacent to a home. Some manufacturers are marketing "double duty" shelters, that can be used for valuables or extra storage area.
  • If you live in an area where you are affected by hurricanes, you will want to use the shelter for protection from them as well. So you will need to consider the possibility of storm surge in determining whether or not you want an underground or partially underground shelter.
  • How thick is the fiberglass/steel/concrete? Thick enough to withstand the stresses that will undoubtedly be put on it whether there is a tornado or not?
  • Were engineers involved with the design or is this an offshoot of another business that makes a different product that is not subject to the kind of stresses a storm shelter has?
  • What sizes are available?
  • How many people can fit comfortably into the shelter?
  • What provision is made for seating?
  • What provision is made for lighting?
  • What provision is made for ventilation, especially if the door is blocked for several hours?
  • Is there storage space for emergency supplies like water, a first aid kit, etc?
  • Does the entry to the shelter open outward, inward, or slide sideways?
  • Is there provision for getting out if the door is blocked or a tree falls on it?
  • How high is the water table in your area, and what provision is there to keep the shelter in position? If you have a high water table, you don't want water leaking into the shelter, nor do you want it bobbing up out of the ground.
  • If I live on a flood plain that sees frequent high water, what provision has been made to keep flood water from entering the shelter?
  • Is the shelter seamless, or are there seams that might allow water or soil in?
  • How deeply does the soil freeze? If you live in a northern climate, you don't want the frost in the ground buckling or cracking the sides or forcing the shelter out of the ground little by little.
  • How far down is the bedrock in your area? Shallow soils above bedrock may add considerably to the installation cost, although it doesn't prevent you from installing an underground shelter.
  • Shelters may be partially sunk into the ground, then banked with soil. What is the cost of drawing in additional dirt to bank a storm cellar that is only half underground?
  • What is the basic cost of the shelter?
  • Can I have it shipped here and install it myself with local help?
  • What "accessories" are available and what is the cost of each?
  • What is the cost of installation if we have to drill through rock to put it underground?
  • What is the cost to ship it to my location? The proximity to a dealer is often THE determining factor in choosing a shelter! Fortunately, there are a number of manufacturers with dealers in many states, so the choices now are better than they were a few years ago.
  • What is the installation cost if there is no bedrock?
  • How long a warranty is provided, and what does it cover?
  • What circumstances might negate that warranty?
  • What if I have a problem with it a few years from now--what kind of support do the company offer?
  • Are there additional costs I haven't asked about, and if so, what are they?
  • What is the amount of time it will take to complete the installation process?
  • Will unwelcome guests like rodents, snakes, scorpions, etc, be able to get into the shelter and either live or even worse, die there?
  • What kind of monthly/yearly maintenance is required or suggested?
  • How long has the company been in business? The longer the company has been in business, the more likely it is that they have created a good product and stand behind it. And the more likely they are still going to be around if you do have problems.
  • Ask for the names of previous customers that have shelters and speak to them about the performance of the product.
And ask yourself:
  • Are there underground pipes, conduits, gas lines, sewer lines, or cables that will have to be considered in or near the location you want to put your shelter?
  • Will their location have a part in determining which shelter is possible?
  • Do I want to consider investing in a larger shelter, and purchasing it jointly with a neighbor(s)? Is the neighbor going to be there permanently--is it another family member--might be factors here.
The FEMA site now has a document you can download on the performance criteria for tornado shelters. It is worthwhile reading! You can download it in Microsoft Word format here.

However, this is a good time to remind everyone that there are always "companies" that rush in after a disaster to take advantage of the victims of that disaster. It is sad but true. After Hurricane Andrew struck southern Florida, trucks crammed with jugs of tap water pulled into town, charging exhorbitant prices for something that, a day or so before, was not even considered valuable. After the ice storm struck Quebec, Canada in January, 1998, the same kind of thing happened. We heard of one person buying a whole truck-load of generators, then trying to peddle them to power-less Canadians at twice the price. There are companies that have products that can be "turned into" storm shelters. They have jumped into the shelter business, adapting these products somewhat. So go by the old adage, "Let the buyer beware!" If you have already decided that you are going to buy a shelter, ask the hard questions before you invest--because it really IS an investment.


The Tornado Risk Map shows the areas in which you may need to seek shelter.  You should do your own research.  Is your home or your own basement sufficient in a tornado ?


A final word from Jane,

      If you do determine that you need some type of a tornado or bomb protective structure, do not be rushed. Consider carefully all the aspects of this decision above, and consider your own finances as well. Make sure that you know what type of maintenance will be necessary for such a structure. I know some of you feel pressured to protect your families from this years tornado season, but remember, even if you purchase it, and make the decision today, it must be installed, and your family still need to stock it, and know under what conditions it should be used.  It would be unwise to spend a lot of money and find that you need something a little different.  Make sure that you complete your thinking before ordering.  One thing that does make such a purchase a little easier to swallow is that it IS a capital improvement to your home, and in many places, it is a purchase that can be added to the purchase price of your home, and that you may get back when it is time to sell.



Blast Resistant Doors said...

The blast will make any tornado disappear. Anyone who does not think so overestimates the tornado or underestimates the nuclear weapon - or both. Bomb Blast Doors

JaneofVirginia said...

The point of the post never was to compare the forces unleashed in a tornado of any size, and a thermonuclear bomb blast. The point was that a shelter constructed for the aftermath of a thermonuclear bomb detonation can also be used for protection during a tornado. Since tornadoes this year have been rather frequent and thankfully thermonuclear blasts are fairly rare, some families may feel that by having a bomb blast shelter built professionally, that they may be addressing two important concerns. This is why these were grouped together for the purposes of this posting.

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JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Anna. You are certainly welcome here any time. My book by the same name as the blog has lots of the same writing style. Thanks for your kind words.

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