Does your heart start galloping at the thought of a tornado? Can’t blame you — these bad boys of nature are fast, heartless, and devastating. How do you stand up to one of nature’s most destructive forces? Building a storm cellar, safe room, or installing a modular storm shelter is one of the few defenses against a tornado, and outbursts of violent storms over the past few years have made busy times for shelter manufacturers. If you’re thinking of adding a storm shelter, keep these ideas in mind.
An interior safe room is all that’s left of this Oklahoma farmstead after a devastating tornado destroyed the surrounding house. If built to the standards of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an interior safe room will withstand tornado-force winds and flying debris.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasSafe and Sweet
A storm shelter is designed to withstand destructive wind forces, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like a concrete blob. A decorative door, stone veneer, and a scattering of potted plants makes this outdoor storm shelter part of the landscape.
Shelters built underground are the safest, but heads-up on these factoids: 1) soils that freeze in winter put stresses on concrete walls; 2) high water tables may flood your shelter; 3) it’ll be expensive to prepare a site if there’s solid bedrock. Uncertain? Consult a soil expert by searching for “geotechnical engineering” in your area.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasSmall but Sturdy
You won’t be holding any rodeos inside this diminutive shelter, but if there’s an EF-4 nearby, we’re guessing you won’t care. Certified by the National Storm Shelter Association, this 3-by-6-foot enclosure must be bolted to a 4-inch-thick concrete floor. It’s simple design makes it a good DIY project. It costs about $3,350.
Credit: The Perfect Storm Shelter
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasGet in Here — Now!
If a tornado is imminent, you’ll want to hunker down, fast. This small, dome-shaped shelter fits in many easily accessible spaces, such as a garage. The all-steel construction resists extreme winds, hurled debris, even bullets! It must be bolted to a steel-reinforced, concrete slab.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasGimme Shelter
If you live in a tornado-prone area, a storm shelter or safe room is a smart investment. A pre-fabricated fiberglass shelter is designed for underground installation, accessible by an above-ground hatch. Prices for a fiberglass shelter with seating for four adults range from $2,500 to $10,000, installed.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasPart of the Neighborhood
Looking like a simple storage shed, this stout above-ground shelter is made of pre-cast concrete panels covered with stucco. The doors of most residential shelters can be taken off from the inside, just in case there’s debris piled against the outside.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasTough-as-Nails Interior Design
Building an interior storm shelter is easiest during new construction. No matter what type of construction materials are used, the unit must be bolted to a concrete slab. The cost to build an interior storm shelter is $6,000 to $15,000, depending on the size, location, and door style.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasSafe and Unobtrusive
Tucked behind a guest room closet, this 4-foot-by-6-foot storm shelter is big enough to protect a family of six. The manufacturer says the pre-fabricated, FEMA-approved steel shelter is strong enough to withstand an F-5 tornado. The $8,750 cost includes installation.
8 Storm Cellar and Tornado-Safe Room Design IdeasFunding for Shelters
Certain states in high-risk areas will provide funding support for the construction of individual and community tornado shelters. Mississippi, for example, reimburses up to 75% of the cost of constructing a tornado shelter that’s built to FEMA standards. The funding is partially supported by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Program.