You’ve heard the expression “Better to be safe than sorry?” While it sounds like advice your grandma might give you, when it comes to protecting your family, there is NO better advice.
Oklahoma has seen its fair share of natural disasters in the past few years. It is no wonder then that Oklahoma ranks in the top two percent of the most disaster-prone areas of the United States. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, the Oklahoma area has been the site of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires and severe storms. Since there is no way to control the weather, you need to prepare for it. Keeping your family out of harm’s way in the most important aspect of dealing with a natural calamity, and sometimes, there’s just not enough time to evacuate safely. Having a plan can save lives.
As anyone in Oklahoma who has witnessed the destruction of a tornado can attest, Mother Nature can deal some wicked blows. The best way to fight back is a strong defense, and that includes having a storm shelter to protect your family from any type of serious storm that may threaten your home. Any kind of looming natural disaster is scary; being in the midst of one and not having a safe place to house your family is downright terrifying. Having a secure storm shelter will give you peace of mind when the next inevitable hurricane or storm threatens Oklahoma. There are many types of storm shelters on the market, from above ground to below ground, various build types and materials. You can see examples of some great storm shelters here at https://www.flatsafe.com/ .
Knowing what type of storm shelter is appropriate for your family is the first step in taking a line of defense. If you have a small family and no pets, your needs will be very different from someone with a large family and many pets. Also, elderly or disabled family members require special attention; these needs have to be considered when selecting the proper safe haven for your loved ones. For instance, if you have a smaller family, a secure garage cube that seats up to ten people, offers room for supplies and mount directly to your garage floor might be an adequate solution for your family. There are also underground options that have stairs and that hold a larger number of people or even above ground options that are relocatable if you should move. There are various costs associated with the different storm shelters and knowing your needs and budget will help you to determine what will suit your family best in case of an emergency.
There are many features you can add to a storm shelter to make it more comfortable, especially if you believe you might need to stay inside it for a prolonged period of time. Whichever type you choose, make sure it is FEMA 320 Compliant, strong enough to withstand a severe storm, tornado or hurricane force winds. Most basic shelters will be made of heavy duty metal, resistant to corrosion and a double exterior coating to ensure moisture protection. The inside of the compartment should be painted and carpeted, with vents to circulate fresh air. Doors to the outside should have heavy duty latches and hinges that can be easily removed in case outside debris blocks the door from opening naturally. You will also need electricity inside the shelter, so it should be prewired and contain power sources. Plan to make it as comfortable for everyone as possible, even if you are only inside for a short period of time. This will take some planning on your part, but it will be well worth it if you ever find yourself and your family in the midst of an emergency. Stock up on batteries and have a flashlight and candles ready in your storm shelter, just in case. You will also want to have a supply of non-perishable foods, water and utensils already stashed because there may not be time to stock the shelter last minute. Prepare for a three day stay on the off chance you will need extended rations. A battery operated radio and a first aid kit are also essential. If anyone in your family suffers from a medical condition, make sure to include any medications or supplies they may need for a prolonged stay in the storm shelter. Blankets, pillows and other items to provide comfort will come in handy, as well.
You will also want to prepare the area surrounding your home and your shelter, to ensure that nothing blocks the passage to the shelter and to eliminate any objects that may cause damage in a high wind situation. Lawn ornaments and patio furniture should be removed, if at all possible, in the event of a hurricane, tornado, or any other storm with high winds. Another important element of storm preparedness: prepping your loved ones. Practicing for a major storm and ensuring that everyone knows what to grab and where to go in the event of an emergency will be essential, especially for children. Regular storm drills that include time inside the storm shelter will help everyone become familiar with the safe haven and reduce confusion in the event of a true catastrophe. In addition to practicing storm drills, taking photographs of your possessions, your home, and your cars and keeping those photographs stored in the shelter will help with any insurance claims after the storm.
Storm shelters can save lives. Wind, rain, floods, and devastating natural disasters can strike at any time and the only way to truly be safe is to be prepared. While many people believe that storm shelters are difficult to install, the opposite is true. An above ground, garage unit can be installed in an afternoon while an underground shelter may require a weekend. You can attempt to install one yourself or pay an additional amount to have it placed by the company who sells the shelters, if they offer the service. The shelter itself will cost a few thousand dollars, depending upon the size, location and additional amenities you request. A storm shelter, especially in a disaster prone area like Oklahoma, are well worth the expense and can even increase the value of your home when you sell it. In terms of your family’s safety, however, the return on investment is priceless.