Failsafe? Storm bunkers can save lives in Tornado Alley
Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 9:46 -
Often the last line of defense from a tornado – storm shelters are becoming more of the norm in residential home construction, especially in the southern central US plains (also known as Tornado Alley).
These bomb-shelter-type bunkers are designed to provide secure cover during a severe weather event – namely tornadoes. In light of recent events that have taken dozens of lives in Oklahoma specifically in the month of May, more attention is being focused on making severe weather survivable.
Many of the dwellings in the Moore OK, the sight of the deadly EF5 tornado (the highest rating on the enhanced Fujita scale that measures wind speeds as a function of storm damage) did not have basements – due to the geology of the landform. Shallow water tables do not permit sub-ground foundations. But some did have storms shelters – flat-top and slope front shelters, safe rooms, tornado cellars, land bunkers and the like as a means to surviving the direct hit from that deadly twister.
When survivors became aware that the worst of the storm had passed, they emerged from their safe rooms and shelters – many found literally complete devastation of their homes and belongings. In the midst of the rubble, splinter wood, torn roofs, cars and trucks smashed, windows shattered – their survival was owed to, for example, a custom made small 4ft x 6ft x 8ft safe room, with concrete reinforced floors, walls made of 3/16th inch plate steel. The best of these made-to-order shelters can withstand 6000lbs psi and are scientifically tested in wind tunnels to meet FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) standards and regulations in the United States.
These rooms, situated in the central interior of a home or next to a garage are the “go-to” locations for home dwellers when the warning sirens are sounded. Three dead bolts lock the vault-like door. Vents in the ceiling allow for air circulation. This is where the waiting and enduring begins and ends. It’s dark and cramped and there are no amenities except for an emergency kit, blankets, flashlights, batteries, portable radio – you get the idea… the essentials to get through a most turbulent episode. If you have a shelter in your home – you know the danger of where you live; if you are ever in need of one – you are in present danger. If you are in a storm bunker, then it’s the failsafe, the last resort – your life is counting on it.