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10 Tips for Choosing a Storm Shelter


1. Make sure the shelter is conveniently located and will hold your family comfortably


2. Shelters should meet or exceed FEMA guidelines for structural design and wind force


3. Determine the shelter’s ability to withstand impact from fl ying objects


4. Register your shelter with your city


5. Quoted prices should include installation. Work should be listed in detail and a contract provided. Remember to check on warranty


6. Only reinforced concrete shelters are safe


7. Underground shelters can be impractical in areas with high water tables


8. Plan for airfl ow by using vents on berms


9. Make sure access doors can be opened if debris is present


10. Be prepared to shelter in place for up to 72 hours. For a complete list of recommended supplies to create an emergency kit, visit http://www.ready. gov/build-a-kit


Safe in Shelter Choose a tornado shelter that best suits your family By Jocelyn Pedersen W


hen the Oklahoma skies open and severe weather threatens, staying safe is key. Storm shelters come in many


varieties including above- and below-ground models that can be installed inside or outside the home. There are advantages to each and it’s a matter of personal choice as to which will serve your family best. Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC) members Steve and Carolyn Jones of Norman, Okla., installed a 6-feet by 6-feet by 7-feet in-ground shelter about 10 years ago and said they use it regularly when the weather turns severe. Shelter size was chosen to accommodate their family, but they have offered refuge to their neighbors because “we’d rather have people safe than get hurt,” Carolyn Jones said. The Jones’ concrete shelter arrived in two pieces. The bottom was placed in the ground and bolted to the top portion, which extends above ground with a berm on the top. Stairs and a handrail provide access through a metal door. The Jones family lives rurally, so when stormy weather is predicted, Carolyn Jones said she checks the shelter to dispatch rogue spiders and scorpions. “There’s not much room in there for me and too many scorpions,” she quipped. One drawback of an external shelter is


getting wet on the way to it. Toni Hoy from Noble, Okla., has a shelter similar to that of the Jones family and said along with the emergency kit she assembles, she packs an extra set of dry clothes for everyone. Hoy said it was important to her to be able to stand up in a shelter so hers is 8 feet by 10 feet by 7 feet. Last year she had 14 people in it, although she said she “wouldn’t recommend it” because it was crowded.


“But, if it’s an emergency, you’re not going to turn people away. Any shelter you’re in gets a little claustrophobic,” she said. “I’d defi nitely recommend one. It’s only used a couple times a year; it’s not like you’re having a picnic down there.”


22 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


Mike, Tyelinda and Al Braumgardner display a steel storm shelter designed, engineered and built in Oklahoma. These shelters are installed outdoors, come with stairs or a ladder, offer seats and are tall enough to stand in. Photo by Jocelyn Pedersen


Not all external shelters are made of concrete, however. OEC member Tyelinda Braumgardner is co-owner of Ground Safe Shelters, a company providing shelters designed, engineered and built in Oklahoma. The shelters are built of steel and come with ladders or staircases depending on size. Kym Bradshaw, sales representative, assures people that metal, in-ground shelters are completely grounded. For those who prefer to stay dry on the way to a shelter, in-home varieties abound. Aboveground shelters have the advantage of easy access from indoors and are wheelchair accessible. Central Rural Electric Cooperative member Vicki Hagerman is the General Manager for Ground Zero Shelters in Perry, Okla., a company that installs aboveground shelters as well as models located in existing garages or elsewhere in new homes at the time of construction. Shelters can hold up to 12 people depending on size and are equipped with seats. Tall people cannot stand up in the garage shelters, however. A hand winch is available to pry back the shelter lid in case of debris. Hagerman encourages customers to research various products before purchasing. Although there are many options available,


Steve Jones summed up the decision making process when he said, “I think it’s preference— whatever gives you peace of mind. One in the garage or one outside doesn’t make a difference when an EF5 is comin’ at you.”


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