The Bottom Line
- Why install a Storm Shelter? I spent a memorable portion of my youth surviving the storms of Tornado Alley. In those ancient days, radio and TV were quite boring, so the excitement of an advancing killer storm fulfilled a dreaded but wickedly welcome need for something (anything) to happen (sigh). I learned that our home could blow away at any time, but everything stored in our underground shelter (typically waist-deep in water) would surely be right where we left it after the storm was over. Now, as an adult lacking the need for excitement, a storm shelter just makes good sense. And I’ve heard horror stories about evacuations; stuck on the freeway for days without food, toilets, or gas. No thanks!
- After the shelter was installed, I pulled the heavy steel door shut and sat down inside for the first time. An unconscious sense of relief immediately flooded my entire existence; I’ve never felt so safe!
- A storm shelter can also be used as a vault, a gun cabinet, a root cellar, and a Faraday cage (for EMP protection).
- No maintenance required.
- Doubles as a guest room.
- Available in various standard sizes.
- Takes up space.
- Moderately expensive.
- Except for a built-in storage locker, our shelter arrived empty; we had to design and construct an interior to meet our needs.
- About $8K for a custom 4’x10′ steel shelter (without interior). Smaller standard units are much cheaper.
- In Florida, hurricanes are a fact of life. Discovering that we’re allergic to hurricanes came as no surprise. To us, a steel storm shelter provides the most practical and affordable option for protecting ourselves, our pets, and our files. If we do get hit and the property is damaged, I prefer to be on-site to protect what’s left and to begin cleanup and repairs. Though small, the new shelter is quite livable for a temporary period (days to weeks).
- We were able to design and construct the interior ourselves (making the shelter even more useful and practical).
- Many of the custom features of EBG (redundant power, water, cooking, communication, and so on) are justified by our desire to sleep through any catastrophes (storms, shortages, blackouts, civil unrest, more) that may occur, as well as to support our neighbors and friends when the need arises.
The Safest Place in Town Doubles as a Faraday Cage
In many cases, a good storm shelter (constructed of .25″ carbide steel) is cheaper than a lousy vacation.
Tip: Order a custom unit that meets your needs exactly.
Except for a string of lights, our empty storm shelter (left) awaits an interior. The U-shaped attachment points (a custom request) welded to the roof will bear the weight of the interior upper cabinetry. Note the built-in storage bench at one end of the shelter.
How often do you get a chance to design a micro-environment that could save your life?
Although a challenge that required months to complete, the custom interior was a pleasure to design and construct!
The new interior features a sleeping platform with lots of storage (above left), upper cabinets, and a pantry. To our knowledge, ours is the only storm shelter with a cat tunnel from the living room (above right) and a staircase (shown without cover) that leads to the cat entry door of the storm shelter. Once inside, a steel plate slides down and locks into place.
Sleep well: Surprisingly comfortable, the black sleeping pads (above left) were salvaged from a morgue (a fact I keep to myself). Heaven only knows how many have napped their last on those pads.
Shown here after completion, the upper cabinet doubles as a cat cage. The doors of the cabinet are vented open in this image (above). Note how the cabinets are anchored to the U-shaped attachment points welded to the roof of the shelter.
During testing, the camera in the upper cabinet/cage captured this image of Fluffy, who successfully negotiated the tunnel from the house, and the cat ladder to the upper cage. Unfortunately, our cats don’t really like the storm shelter and we haven’t come up with a successful method for herding them inside in the event of a storm. Stay tuned!
Sheba (above left) climbs the cat ladder to reach the upper cage. A pantry (above middle) was installed behind the door. In addition to the upper cage, cat ladder, and pantry, we also installed a sleeping platform (with accessible storage), adjustable shelves, LED lighting, first aid kits, porta-potty, battery backup units (EcoFlow Delta 1300 & Max), and more. Princess (above right) relaxes on the sleeping platform.
Storm shelters are never large enough to hold all the stuff you’d like to store inside the unit. After careful consideration, I determined that steel cabinets could be strapped to the exterior of the shelter to add “more” storage capacity. After investigating a variety of toolboxes, I settled on rolling steel storage cabinets, which can be quickly rolled into place and strapped to the outside wall of the shelter.
Storm shelters are never large enough to hold all the stuff that you’d like to store inside the unit. The pantry (above and left) was installed behind the door.
For more information on our storm shelter (and a movie on how it was installed), watch the video A Special Shelter.