Designing Your Above Ground Tornado Shelter

Tornado safe room

The weather is one of those things that we simply cannot control. Scientific and research advancements allow us to better predict weather conditions, before they hit our cities. As these predictions increase, the amount of time that we have to prepare also increases, which can be life saving in many situations. It is important to have a plan in preparation for quick and easy shelter. This might be in the form of an above ground tornado shelter or a panic room. When planning an above ground tornado shelter, you will want to consider the following factors.


Safety should be your biggest priority when building a storm shelter. Tornados can be extremely dangerous and life threatening. Damage paths of tornados can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. A simple touch down of a tornado can damage your home, your land, and your family. Ensure that your tornado shelter is built with the best and more durable of equipment and that it can withstand high amounts of wind.


A room layout that is functional also makes sense. For example, if your tornado safe room is underground and you are unable to make it down stairs quickly, it will not be very beneficial. If your storm shelter is far away from your house, it may be too dangerous to run outdoors to make it to the shelter. Keep these points in mind when designing and building your above ground tornado shelter. Also be sure to put enough room in the shelter so that your entire family can fit comfortably.

Well stocked

This may be the last thing on your mind when a tornado hits. However, it is likely that you will be stuck in the above ground tornado shelter for many hours, possibly even days. Tornado shelters have the main purpose of protecting you and your family from damaging winds, but you will also want to ensure that it is well stocked. This includes food and water, medical needs, and entertainment. You can stock pantry items in your shelter, that way you are prepared for any food or water needs. You should also include a first aid kit, in case of any medical emergencies.

It can also be helpful to pack an emergency bag if you are in a tornado prone area. This bag should include items like prescriptions and medications that are needed, comfort items, and any important documents and records. You will be glad that you saved them if everything in your home gets damaged. Having the bag ready in a known place can cut down on the amount of time it takes for you to get to your tornado shelter. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average lead time for tornado warning is 13 minutes.

A radio or other news device

Most above ground storm shelters block out noise from the tornado. You do not want to come out of your shelter until the tornado is completely over, including other local dangerous weather conditions. Having a radio or other technological device that gives you news updates by the minute can be very helpful. It can also help you know what to expect when you are able to come out of the shelter. Other weather conditions that follow tornados can be just as dangerous. Flash flooding, for example, is responsible for more fatalities, more than 140 annually, than any other thunderstorm associated hazard.

Tornados are extremely dangerous. They also cannot be prevented, only predicted. Scientists are getting better and better at giving people more time to get to shelter when a tornado is coming. If you live in an area that is likely to get many tornados, you may want to have your own above ground tornado shelter. The shelter can save you and your family and can give you a safe place to go for all types of dangerous weather conditions.

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