Are underground storm shelters safe??

Are underground storm shelters safe??

2015 has been a hectic storm season for much of Oklahoma. Non stop rain, flash flooding, and constant tornado warnings have become the norm, but as we approach the middle of May, the end of severe weather season ( if there is such a thing) is in sight. The Summer heat makes it much more difficult for tornadoes to form and we typically get a break until Fall returns. We are almost there everybody, only a few more weeks of anxiety. Speaking of anxiety, I’m sure everybody has seen the media coverage about the lady that drowned inside her outdoor cellar and probably seen the pictures of storm shelters that have either floated out of the ground or have filled up with water. How is all of this happening? I thought being underground was the safest place to be when tornadoes strike. Is this still the case or should I consider an above ground safe room instead? Many of you reading this have probably had these thoughts when reading the paper or after seeing some of the images. Let’s further examine the situation.

 

Are underground storm shelters still safe??

Without hesitation, the answer to this question is YES! The hundreds if not thousands of lives that have been saved over just the last decade are proof of that. Google ‘storm shelters save lives’ and you can easily find a countless number of articles and videos about people who fled for safety during a tornado in an underground shelter. Underground garage model storm shelters and outdoor storm cellars are not perfect, but they are pretty close to it. Do some research, we can’t find any documented evidence of anybody ever being killed in an underground garage model shelter that meets FEMA guidelines and has been impact tested at Texas Tech’s Wind institute in Lubbock. It just hasn’t happened. The lady that drowned inside her cellar last week was a tragedy and everybody at F5 Storm Shelters is really very sad about it. We know that people buy our products because they no longer want to stress about severe weather. They want to know that no matter what happens, their family is going to be safe. Unfortunately, all storm shelters are not created equal. Older storm cellars that don’t meet current day FEMA guidelines and DIY projects are not going to be as safe as a storm shelter sold and installed to you by a professional. Sadly, the cellar this lady was in appears like it was extremely old and outdated. Before ever purchasing a storm shelter, please make sure to do your research. Make sure the company’s designs meet FEMA guidelines by meeting FEMA codes P-320, 360, and ICC-500. Has the company had their products impact tested and if so can they show you proof? What kind of rating do they have with the BBB and what are previous customers saying about them online? All these things matter.

 

Why are all these storm shelters floating out of the ground and filling up with water?

If you have a storm shelter already or are currently looking around for one, the pictures floating around social media have probably been pretty disturbing. The sight of the underground garage model filled to the lids with water terrifying. This is definitely a disadvantage for this particular model. Luckily, the person was able to get their family out of the shelter to avoid the rushing water and their house was not in an area greatly affected by the tornado, but what can be done to prevent this from happening again? Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot. These shelters are designed for safety from severe weather. Just about every company is installing flush mount storm shelters these days. This means, they are installed so that the lids will be even with your garage floor. If you are concerned with water getting inside your shelter, you can have your installer raise the shelter slightly above the garage floor. When they go to re-pour the slab, the should be able to trow the wet concrete at an angle to steer water around the tornado shelter. To the naked eye, it will still look flush, but will also offer protection from filling with water. Like we said, these shelters are designed for safety from tornadoes. The weather last week in Oklahoma was just a crazy fluke type situation. The day these shelters filled with water, the Oklahoma City metro area got 8 inches of rain. At one point, 3 inches fell in just an hour! That is more rain then the area gets in the average month. In fact if you go back through state history, OKC has never received so much water in such a short time frame. For the first time ever, the National Weather Service issued a “flash flood emergency” for Oklahoma City. This type of thing just never happens and more then likely, will never happen again. If you live in a low area or even in a flood plan and had an underground storm shelter in your garage, if the garage flooded, there was nowhere for water to go except inside the storm shelter. However, if you do not know if you live in a flood plane, upon going to pull a permit through your city, they should inform you wheter you are or not. If you are told that you do live in this type of area, an above ground safe room is going to be a safer option for your situation. Despite these freak occurrences, seeking safety in a storm shelter is still your safest option if a tornado is close by.

 

What about the outdoor cellars popping completely out of the ground?

To me, this all looks like an installation issue. If you have seen the images, notice that all of them are steel shelters and not concrete. Steel is good because it is much lighter then concrete. It allows a company to more easily access your back yard for an installation. Instead of backing a truck up to the hole and lowering the shelter into the ground, which requires alot of free space, you can simply pick the shelter up with an excavator and carry it to the hole that has been dug. Being that the shelter weights substantially less, you can’t simply install it the same was you would install a concrete unit. These type of shelters need to be at least somewhat encased in concrete. Back-filling with just dirt will not prevent the shelter from floating if we get a lot of rain. When you install storm shelters, you have to have blueprints created and sealed by an engineer. This not only discloses how the shelter is to be built, but will also describe how it needs to be installed. Every blueprint created it going to have a section that discusses buoyancy. This lists what needs to be done to prevent the shelter from ever floating out of the ground. This all goes back to researching the company you select to install your shelter. Make sure that they know what they are doing.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about anything to do with storm shelters or saferooms, please feel free to call us. We have locations in both OKC and Tulsa so we are easily accessible by most people in the state. We want you to know that we are here to help. Stay Alive, Call F5!

 

F5 Storm Shelters OKC (405) 824-7209

Tulsa (918) 970-4770 Stay Alive, Call F5!

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Are underground garage storm shelters safe?

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Storm Shelter

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Storm Shelter

Spring is quickly approaching in Oklahoma. This means warmer weather and more daylight, but it also means storm season. This is a scary time of the year for a lot of Oklahomans and is also a really popular time when many people begin to start to formulate a weather safety plan for their family. For a lot of people, that means purchasing a storm shelter. We thought now would be a great time to try to enlighten people on things they need to know and questions they need to ask before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Is it more safe to be underground??

Most people tend to prefer to be underground if they ever have to seek shelter from a tornado. Don’t get me wrong, being underground is extremely safe, but above ground safe rooms are statistically just as safe and are very easy to use. The Texas Tech Wind Institute in Lubbock Texas did a major investigation of all the above ground safe rooms in the direct path of the 2013 Moore tornado. They were able to determine that there were 13 registered safe rooms in the direct path of this devastating EF-5 tornado. All of the safe rooms made it through the storm unscathed and nobody inside of these shelters were injured or killed. In fact, nobody has been killed in an above ground safe room that meets or exceeds FEMA guidelines and has received a passing grade during testing at Tech’s Wind Institute. In both of our F5 showrooms in OKC and Tulsa, we have safe rooms installed just in case we get severe weather during working hours. This should tell you how much we believe in the technology.

Is an underground storm shelter in my garage more or less safe then an outdoor underground storm cellar?

Texas Tech researches say both underground garage storm shelters and above ground safe rooms installed inside your house are just as safe as any outdoor cellar. Even though they are believed to be just as safe, we tend to advise people more toward the shelters installed in the house. The reason for this is that although all three types of shelters are just as safe, that safety is achieved once you are inside the actual storm shelter. The number one cause of death during severe weather is impact from flying debri. If you have an outdoor cellar in your backyard, you have to physically leave the house and seek shelter outdoors. This leaves you extremely vulnerable to debri and the tornado it self. Storm shelters installed in the garage or inside the house offer you protection while you are seeking shelter. All our great options, but this is just what we would recommend.

Make sure the storm shelter you purchase meets FEMA guidelines and has been impact tested at Texas Tech’s Wind Institute

This seems pretty basic but since the 2013 Moore Tornado, there have been tons of storm shelter companies pop up. Many of these businesses were thrown together quickly to try and benefit from the growing storm shelter demand. Be careful when choosing a company to do business with. All storm shelters should be built and designed according to FEMA 320, FEMA 321, and ICC-500. All companies should supply you with blueprints for the shelter you wish to purchase and these blueprints needs to have an engineered seal of approval.

It is also extremely important that the storm shelter company you choose has been certified by the Texas Tech Wind Institute in Lubbock. A certified shelter is tested to make sure it meets the standards to survive a direct hit from a tornado. All impact tests are consistent with the Debris Impact Requirement of ICC-500. Above ground safe rooms leave you in dangerous territory being as that you are above ground and exposed to flying debri. You have to have a shelter that you know will hold up. Certification from Tech guarantees your family will be safe.

Do Your Research

This shouldn’t come as anything new but do research on the companies you are interested in. Again, there have been a lot of companies start up over the last two years and not all of them do good work. Look online and find reviews on google, yahoo, and facebook. Check out if they are accredited with the Better Business Bureau and what their rating is. Ask the company if they will give you any names and numbers of past customers that can vouch for your work. Don’t just take the company for their word.

We hope this helps out some of you in the decision making process. Call us if you have any other questions or concerns. We would love to help your family any way we can.

F5 Storm Shelters OKC (405) 824-7209
Tulsa (918) 970-4770 Stay Alive, Call F5!

storm shelters

Things to know before purchasing a storm shelter

Placement of Storm Shelter in Your Garage

Placement of Storm Shelter in Your Garage

Here at F5 Storm Shelters, we get asked all the time about where we install our shelters in the garage and why we use that location. When installing an underground garage storm shelter in a customers garage floor, our installers our instructed to install the shelter about 1 ft in from the garage door. We also choose to come about 2.5-3ft in from the exterior wall. The main reason we choose to start the install so close to the garage door is so that the customer can use their storm shelter easier. Most peoples garages are a little over 20 inches deep. By putting the shelter so close to the garage door, it allows most people the ability to pull their vehicle up far enough so that they can get inside the tornado shelter without having to back their car out of the garage. The last thing that you would want to happen during a storm is to back your car out of the garage in order to get inside the storm shelter, a tornado never comes, it starts hailing and then you are out of pocket $500-$100 for your car deductible.

 

We bring the shelter 2.5 ft in from the exterior wall so that the shelter is centered on whatever bay you choose to place it. All the lids on every size shelter we sell are 3 ft wide. This limits you from having to drive over the lids on a daily basis. We strongly recommend that every customer should try to avoid driving over the actual lids. They are equipt to handle such impact, but we don’t think it is a good decision long term. Over the years, wear and tear could cause the lid to dent in, making it hard to open the front lid.

Putting the shelter so close to the garage door also makes it easier for our installers to install the storm shelter. For the customer, this means we are less likely to ding your property with our equipment.

 

If you have any questions about our storm shelters, please don’t hesitate to call us. Call (405) 824-7209 if you are in the OKC metro, or call (918) 970-4770 if you are in Tulsa. You can also find more info on our website at storm.quantus-dev.com.

 

F5 STORM SHELTERS

Storm Shelters, Tornado Shelters, Safe Rooms

Tulsa – (918) 970-4770
Oklahoma City – (405) 824-7209

storm.quantus-dev.com

Questions about Post Tension Foundations

Questions about Post Tension Foundations

We get questions all the time from customers about whether or not they have post tension cables under their foundation. These questions primarily come from our Tulsa customers, but it is becoming alot more frequent in the Oklahoma city area so we thought we would post a blog about it. First of all, post tension foundations are different from normal foundations in that they have high tension cables running in or beneath the slab. They are designed to help improve the stability of your foundation over time. The problem though, is if you have them, cables running under your garage floor presents a problem when installing an underground garage tornado shelter. In order for a customer with post tension to get their install done properly, you must hire a post tension company to be present for the install. Once the slab is cut and removed, the company will adjust the cables and cap them so that it will be possible to put the storm shelter in the garage floor. This service will cost a little extra on top of the installation, but it will make it possible for everybody to be below ground when a storm is heading their way.

 

F5 STORM SHELTERS

Storm Shelters, Tornado Shelters, Safe Rooms

Tulsa – (918) 970-4770
Oklahoma City – (405) 824-7209

storm.quantus-dev.com