When the warning flashes, where do you find shelter in the storm? Texas Tech's Wind Science and Engineering Department studies wind pressure and debris impact. Dr. Ernst Kiesling is the Executive Director of the National Storm Shelter Association and is responsible for the Storm Shelter Program at Texas Tech. "The shelter must do two things. It must be able to withstand wind pressure and forces as well as prevent peforation of windblown debris."
When it comes to storm season, Dr. Kiesling says a shelter can offer you piece of mind. "No house or building is capable of withstanding an intense tornado if we get an F5 tornado like we got in 1970. It's not pratical to design an entire house to withstand those wind forces. It would simply be too expensive."
So, how can you transform a room in your home into a shelter? Dr. Kiesling says, "Our course of design is to provide occupant safety in a small room like a closet or a bathroom." Art Cuevas Construction is certified by the NSSA and is building safe rooms in a number of new houses. Co-Owner Zelda Cuevas says, "We're incorporating all the safe room tornado shelters in the master closet." The closets are equipped with electrical plugs, cable outlets and telephone hookups so you can communicate during a tornado or other emergency like a break-in or burglary. You can lock yourself in it for safety.
So, how does an ordinary closet protect you? A new trend in building design is as simple as styrofoam and concrete. It's called insulated concrete form or ICF. Eric Moore is a sales consultant with Com.Ware.Inc, an ICF distributor. He says, "ICF is made for making basements and above ground shelters. It's a very secure product for storms." The blocks are stood up and concrete is poured through the center to make it strong. The styrofoam stays on for an insulation factor.
New buildings can receive above or below ground shelters but you can also retrofit part of your home to include a safe room or storm shelter. The cost to build a storm shelter inside your home varies depending on size, accessibilty and materials used but most start at $2,000.
Underground storm shelters are still in operation but Dr. Kiesling says the problem is going outside and getting into the shelter during severe weather.
For more information on storm shelters visit either the National Storm Shelter Association or the Texas Tech Wind Science Engineering Department. To reach Art Cuevas construction, call 866-9000 or visit the office at 7406 83rd St. To learn more about ICF blocks, call Eric Moore with Comm.Ware.Inc at (806) 748-1344.
For NewsChannel 11's Consumer Connection, I'm Sharon Maines.