If you live in an area that experiences tornadoes, you need to know how to make a storm shelter. Tornadoes can destroy everything in their path. This is why many people decide to build a storm shelter; it is a place to get into to protect you from the dangers tornadoes can bring. Before beginning your storm shelter, consider that homes that are built sturdy can pick an interior room to work with. One without windows and surrounded with four walls is best. Make sure to have flash lights, first aid kits, food and water stored in case you need them. Contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at (888) 565-3896 and request FEMA publication 320, "Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House." This is a free booklet and includes construction plans. Also, you will want to determine your area's wind zone. The wind zone will help you figure out how strong your tornado shelter needs to be. Get the proper permits and inspections needed before you start construction. Locate a contractor that has a few years under his belt for constructing a storm shelter. A storm shelter can be built outside of the main building, in the cellar of a house or under one of the floors in the house, like its garage.
To make a storm shelter, you will need:
- Several bags of concrete, depending on how big your shelter is
- Steel (for framing your walls)
- Fiberglass (for framing your walls)
- Lighting (drop lights are great)
- Seating (benches, chairs or sofas)
- Ventilation (an airway for air to flow in case you are staying inside the shelter for any length of time)
- Excavate the pit in which the shelter will be placed. Dig more space than is needed for the shelter itself. This allows for the stairs or entry way to the shelter. The smallest storm shelter should be a twelve foot by twelve foot room. Taking this into consideration, dig at least three times this space of the inside of the shelter.
- Create a concrete base/floor. Level the floor out and begin to pour the concrete until the floor is at least five inches thick. Let stand until dried.
- Next, construct a sturdy wooden frame inside the pit area. You may also use steel or fiberglass for the framework, depending on your wind zone. Measure the size you want the walls to be. Dig holes to place the framework in and pour concrete to the desired height of the walls you have framed. Let set until dried.
- Next, install a waterproof membrane for the outer wall of the frame. This helps to keep water out. Place waterproof membranes on the outside, making sure to cover the entire wall surrounding your storm shelter.
- Pour concrete again and reinforce with wire mesh. Make sure to allow the concrete to dry. Place wire mesh on the inside and outside of your walls.
- The roof of the underground shelter needs to be a slab of reinforced concrete, capable of resisting forces of at least two hundred pounds per square foot. This helps to keep the wind from lifting the roof up and sucking you up into the tornado. Make a frame using two-by-fours and plywood. Place the two-by-fours on top of the plywood and nail them down. Then, pour concrete to the desired height to make your roof. Make sure it will cover the size of your entryway. Pour concrete at least two times as thick as the floor of your shelter. Let it dry and place over the entry way. Use hinges to secure it in place so that you will have an easy way to open the door when needed.