April showers may be over, but with the unpredictable Texas weather, you never know when a storm shelter could provide exactly the protection you need. Given its safety function, a storm shelter should be one of the most secure structures you build for your home. (If you choose not to go the storm shelter route, you can get instructions on exactly what to do in a Texas tornado.) Below are the steps you should take to ensure your family is protected in the case of a dangerous storm.
- Contact Texas811 before you decide to dig your shelter.
- Call your city and inquire if you need a permit to build a storm shelter.
- Determine which type of storm you are building your shelter for. Depending on what part of Texas you live in, you will want to accommodate the type of storms and the effects of those storms for which your region is known (tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, hail, flooding).
- Know the wind rating of your city so you build your shelter strong enough to withstand high winds. Figure out if your city is in a flood zone or storm surge zone to determine if you need to build the storm shelter above ground or below ground.
- In-ground hurricane shelters need 10 square feet per person, and tornado shelters require about 3 to 5 square feet per occupant.
- Excavate a hole larger than the size of the room to allow space to build walls and install a door. Pour concrete 5 inches thick and allow it to solidify completely.
- You will need to build a dome-shaped frame using wood, fiberglass or steel, and line it with a waterproof membrane. Reinforce the frame with wire, while using anchors to attach the frame to the foundation.
- Pour concrete over the frame and reinforce the roof with additional layers of wire mesh.
- Ensuring the hinges are on the outside of the frame, install a steel doorframe with three deadbolt latches. You should also cover the roof with the waterproof membrane you used for the frame.
- Complete the interior with padding, furniture, supplies and whatever else you desire. Make sure you have shelves for imperishable food and water storage.
The International Code Council (ICC) and the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) have developed the ICC/NSSA Standard for Design and Construction of Storm Shelters. You can find more information on building a storm shelter to ICC-500 Requirements here:
http://www.bautexsystems.com/company/news-events/building-a-storm-shelter-to-icc-500-requirements, and don’t forget to call 811 before you dig!