As we sit on our sofa and watch the evening news on the television we sadly view all the destruction that has transpired in Oklahoma. Watching with intent eyes we begin to ponder the possible purchase of a safe room or storm shelter. After witnessing all the horrid deaths which have taken place we go to the internet and beginning researching these safe areas that can be built into your homestead. Naturally, our hearts go out to these families who have lost loved ones in this disaster although you may be thinking along the lines of getting either a safe room or a storm shelter. In our way of thinking we would consider this as an emergency insurance policy and in many ways we would be right in viewing it as such. We continuously see the rescue efforts from the personnel attempting to free the people from the ruble of the tornado aftermath and questions start to come to mind.
What we are not seeing are the tales relating to those people who had the foresight to purchase and install a safe room within their home prior to a disaster. Are they as safe as we may initially think? We find stories originating from Moore Oklahoma that people are now being rescued form their safe rooms or storm shelters at alarming rates. These people are essentially trapped in their shelters from all the scattered debris. In short, they are buried alive.
This certainly appears to be quite a predicament since they were responsible enough to research, invest and build their safe room or shelter. They equally made proper plans for the safety of their family in the event of an emergency such as this only to discover that they would become victims of their own endeavors.
Are we advocating the elimination of safe rooms or emergency storm shelters? Not a chance however we are suggesting a few additional survival tools being included in your preps. My family and I had encountered tornado weather when we were stationed in New Mexico, Nebraska and Kansas and if I had a choice I would have constructed either a safe room inside the basement of our home or a storm Shelter close by. I can recall being notified of approaching tornados and every eye in the neighborhood appeared to be aimed skyward as we all watched for this dreadful weather phenomenon. I know first hand at the dangers posed by tornadoes so I would never recommend the elimination of safe rooms though it would not hurt in the least to include a pick ax and sometimes a hydraulic tool kit and make sure that you know how to use these items in the event of an emergency.
While we fully understand that it is nearly impossible to completely safeguard our family and self from the destructive nature of a tornado there are some things an individual can accomplish to increase the likelihood of survival. First they can build that safe room or storm shelter we spoke earlier but before we proceed to far into our discussion let's briefly differentiate between a safe room and a storm shelter.
Although the terms are generally used synonymously they are not the same.
Typically, the safe room is located above ground and usually within the perimeter of the home. It is fortified so that in the event of an emergency people can enter the room and remain safe. This has the advantage of keeping them safe during a natural disaster or during an attempted home break in. During a tornado a safe room can add a bit of protection but is not the ideal conditions.
A safe room should have a means by which the occupants can communicate with the outside world such as a cell phone or land line. Usually, it will be equipped with a well stocked first aid kit, a flashlight, several blankets and a supply of packaged foods. If you are like me you will also want to keep several gas masks and a portable toilet on hand. A safe room built to proper code can to a degree withstand severe weather much better than the average home would. By knowing where you should build your safe room it can help you provide the most protection possible. You may wish to consider your basement, a first-floor room or in your garage.
As stated, a fortified safe room will provide a certain measure of protection which is missing from the usual home. You are much closer to your area of safety than if you had to travel to a public shelter and you will likely feel better psychologically in your own room. The major disadvantage is that since your safe room is located above-ground they are simply not viewed to be as safe as an underground option.
Storm shelters on the other hand are different from the safe rooms in several ways.
They are built underground and not within the confines of a person's home. A storm shelter is designed specifically to keep the occupants safe during any sort of inclement weather and especially when confronted with tornadoes. We find that storm Shelters are built for single family use and are generally close enough to the home so that one can quickly gain access to it however it is also far enough away that in the event of a collapsed home, the escape door would not be cover up with debris. Storm shelters should be stocked with drinking water, packaged foods, first-aid kits and a means of communication in case you need to call for help. Being built under ground the storm shelter is considered safer than a safe room which is above-ground.
The downfalls of a storm shelter are the initial cost involved. It is usually very expensive to have one built and installed. Since it is a separate building from the family's usual home the individuals must leave the home to enter the shelter. In some cases this can be dangerous for the family if done at the very last minute.
There are several items of interest that must be taken into consideration when you employ safe rooms and storm Shelters. First and high on our list is the possibility that you can become trapped in your room or shelter from the various debris which has fallen. This rubbish could prevent you from leaving your sanctuary when it is safe to.
Secondly, and just as dangerous is the thought that during an adverse condition you stand a very good chance that you may drown in your safe location as a result of a broken water main. Combine both of these possibilities together and they can spell a dangerous situation. What this is telling us is that when planning your safe room or shelter it is advantageous to use care and good sense in its construction as well as its planning.
We have already determined that the storm Shelter is superior over the safe room so if money is the primary obstacle you might wish to consider something similar to the old time root cellars from days past. Build it away from trees and other structures that could trap you in it. Maintain multiple means by which you could egress the location so that if one exit is blocked you could escape by way of the second. Above all do not forget that even though you have stocked up on food, water and various medical supplies you should also have in your tool kit a chainsaw and some sort of hydraulic lift kit to help you get out if trapped inside.
We as preppers may develop a new interest in these types of safe rooms and Shelters as a result of the disaster but we also will need to develop a good construction plan which would keep us out of arms way when the inevitable hits.
Copyright @ 2013 Joseph Parish