The question of who needs an underground shelter can be a debatable subject. It can be argued that anyone could need one. We are going to concentrate on who is most likely to need one according to the chances of being hit by a tornado or hurricane. Tornadoes and hurricanes are undoubtedly the most common of Nature’s elements that a person could require the use of an underground storm shelter to protect their families from.
So, where are these events most likely to occur? Tornadoes are most common in Oklahoma and Florida. While, tornadoes in Florida are usually not as strong as those in other regions of the U.S., they still can be devastating. I would recommend that anyone living in what has become known as tornado alley or in Florida, consider a storm shelter for their family. Tornado Alley includes the following states in part or whole: S. Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. So add Florida to that list and you have a good idea of where tornadoes are most likely to occur.
Regarding the need for underground shelter to protect you from hurricanes, the most likely people to get hit by a hurricane in the U.S. are people living within a couple hundred miles from the southern, eastern or south-eastern coasts. The states most likely to be hit include: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
States most in need of shelter from tornadoes or hurricanes:
• Florida (both)
• Alabama (hurricanes)
• Georgia (hurricanes)
• Louisiana (hurricanes)
• Mississippi (hurricanes)
• N. Carolina (hurricanes)
• S. Carolina (hurricanes)
• Texas (both)
• Oklahoma (tornadoes)
• S. Dakota (tornadoes)
• Minnesota (tornadoes)
• Iowa (tornadoes)
• Nebraska (tornadoes)
• Kansas (tornadoes)
• Colorado (tornadoes)
Those are by no means the only states that have a chance of being hit by a dangerous storm, but they are more likely than others. So when answering the question of who needs a storm shelter, it can be argued that anyone could. However, if you are in one of the above states, I would definitely recommend an underground storm shelter to protect you and your family.
How to Install an Underground Storm Shelter
Now we need to discuss how to go about getting a shelter for your home and family. You have three basic options when planning on installing a storm shelter. You can have it completely done by a professional storm shelter provider, you can just have the manufacturer supply the shell and you can do the rest or you can manufacture it all on your own.
If you are in an area that is subject to tornadoes, but not likely to see hurricanes, I would say it could be safe to make the shell yourself. If you are planning your shelter to be safe from hurricanes, a pre-made shell is highly recommended because of the danger of the shelter flooding. When planning for a shelter, be sure to check the FEMA standards.
Building an underground shelter by yourself with concrete blocks is good for tornadoes, but what about hurricanes? A manufactured underground shelter is the best way to go for protection against flooding. Some even offer protection in the event of a nuclear war. Be sure to provide a steel reinforced entrance and allow for a situation where after the storm, the door may be blocked.
To prepare for a blocked door, you should have a hydraulic jacking device that will jack the door open forcing through debris. These can be installed for around 100-200 dollars. Also consider that you may be able to build a safe shelter for under $2,000 by yourself, but if you want a shelter to protect you from both tornadoes and hurricanes, a manufactured shell can be purchased, starting for around $3,500, if you do the digging and installation.
photos by Daniel Lobo – CreativeCommons Attribution