Today we want to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions about site preparation for a Safe Sheds storm shelter. If you want more detail, feel free to download the Site Preparation instructions on the Installation page.
1) Do I have to pour a concrete pad for my Safe Shed?
Absolutely not! One of the big advantages to a Safe Sheds above ground storm shelter is that the 6" steel reinforced floor eliminates the need for you to spend any more money to pour a concrete slab. In fact, we prefer that you set your shelter directly on bare earth or a shallow gravel pad.
2) If I want to put down a gravel pad, what kind of rock should I use? How deep should the gravel be?
Please use stone that's 3/4" - 1" in diameter with some limestone dust mixed in. Here in Illinois, we call it "road pack" - other parts of the country have different names for it. Put the pad down no more than 2" - 3" above grade and drive over it a few times with a car or lawn tractor to pack it down into place. DO NOT use pea gravel or large stone! And stick to the height restriction of no more than 3" above grade!
3) How level does my shelter site have to be for the shelter?
If you're setting your Safe Shed on bare earth or a gravel pad, just a generally flat surface is all that's needed. It's important that the site not have a crown, as that places stress on the floor of the shelter. You don't have to have your spot surveyed...just level it to the very best of your ability. Our delivery installers can rake a small amount of gravel out of high spots and into low spots, if that's needed at the time of delivery. But they won't be able to do any more site preparation than that...having the spot ready is your responsibility.
4) I want to pour a concrete pad. What dimensions and thickness should that be?
For starters, please use good quality concrete to pour your pad, and use rebar around the edges (about 3" in from the outside) to reinforce the pad. A semi truck with a 24,000 pound storm shelter on it will be driving onto your pad! Allow at least 10 days cure time for the pad before we show up to set your shelter in place. Make your pad 1' wider and 2' - 4' longer than the dimensions of your shelter (8' x 10' shelter needs a 9' x 12'-14' pad; a 6' x 6' shelter needs a 7' x 8'-10' pad). Bigger isn't always better with the pad, so if you want to pour a larger pad, please call the office first! And the pad should not be more than 4" above grade so the truck can easily get up and onto the pad.
5) My ground slopes...I've got this hill...can you get under this tree...are my gutters high enough for the truck to get under...can you stick it between my garage and my garden shed?
If you have any questions or concerns about where you want to install your storm shelter, please give our office a call! We can look at your site on Google Earth, maybe send a delivery installer by to see it first-hand, and help work out challenges BEFORE our installers show up to set your shelter. Take a few pictures with your cell phone and e-mail them to us, and give us important measurements so we can work it all out ahead of time. Our delivery installers are fantastic and can make most situations work. But they really don't like surprises! : )
"Where's the best place to put my above ground storm shelter?" We hear it all the time, so we thought this might be a good place to provide some general information about residential storm shelter placement.
FEMA P-320, the standards for residential storm shelter design, has some recommendations for homeowners to follow as they consider where they should place their shelter.
Keep in mind that a Safe Sheds above ground storm shelter can usually be placed within 2' of your home, making it easy and quick to access when the weather gets bad. And the wide door and low threshold make it simple to enter for people with mobility challenges, as well as pets. Motion sensing LED lights that turn on when you open the door let you see the inside of your shelter without keeping a hand free to fumble for a light switch.
Your family can count on Safe Sheds when their lives depend on it!
There's no doubt that 2016 has been a slow year for tornado outbreaks across the U.S. And this has been very good news for families who live in the most frequently hit areas of the country. But, can we expect 2017 to continue to be as relatively calm as this year was?
Scientists have found a definite correlation between the water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the frequency of tornadoes in the U.S. This is because, when water temperatures rise in the Gulf, a severe weather ingredient called "CAPE" is present (CAPE stands for Convective Available Potential Energy). Warm water temperatures provide more energy to fuel convection and span tornadoes as the warm, moist air moves upward from the Gulf waters into the U.S. This warm, moist air is one of the most important ingredients of the storms that spawn supercells and tornadoes in the Midwest.
When the warm, moist air is lifted by a front, it creates an updraft. The rising air cools and can't continue to hold the moisture, causing clouds to form and, eventually, thunderstorms to rumble. The updraft strengthens and the air below the storm, closer to the ground, blows at different speeds, causing wind sheer. If the wind sheer is pulled into the updraft, becoming vertical instead of horizontal, they give the thunderstorm rotation. A supercell is formed! The vertical tube of the supercell stretches upward, sucking the air upwards, too. Air near the ground rushes in to equalize the pressure caused by the air-sucking supercell, and a tornado is formed.
So, knowing that the water temperature in the Gulf Coast is slightly warmer than average this winter, scientists are predicting heightened summer tornado activity in 2017. While there isn't a guarantee that they'll be right, the data certainly supports their predictions. If you and your family live in an area prone to tornado outbreaks, keep an eye on the sky this spring and summer and, maybe, ask Santa to leave a weather radio under your Christmas tree!
Here are 5 simple steps you can take to start preparing your family for disasters. If you're just getting started, don't stress about doing everything right away. Take small steps toward your goals, and do what you can, when you can.
1) Determine What Types of Disasters Are Most Likely In Your Area
This is as easy as looking around and paying attention. Do you live in a flash-flood area? Is your home in Tornado Alley, U.S.A.? Are you near a major earthquake fault line? Maybe you live near an interstate or railroad line that might see a hazardous chemical spill in the wee-hours of the morning. Remember, disasters aren't always natural...some are man-made. Do a bit of research to see how often these disasters have hit your region in the past and prioritize your planning for the ones most likely to impact you. This helps you focus on what's most important, and save money and resources as you plan.
2) Once You've Identified Which Disasters You Need To Focus On, Learn More About Them
There are plenty of resources available for disaster prepping, so learning more is easier than ever. And as you learn about "your" disasters, you'll begin to feel more confident about being able to prepare for, and survive, them. Each disaster brings unique challenges you'll need to meet...flash flooding requires evacuation, winter storms often require alternative electricity sources, tornadoes require quick and accessible shelter. Make a list of the unique challenges the disaster presents so you can focus your efforts.
3) Some Disaster Preparedness Items Are Universal - Stock Up
There are some items that are needed for almost every disaster, so putting together a basic disaster kit is a good idea for every family. Humans need air, water, shelter, and food in every scenario. Learn how to put together a Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) that you can quickly grad in case of an emergency, whether you're evacuating or sheltering at home. There are tons and tons of recommendations on various web sites, so look around a little before you start shopping. And here's a tip: make copes of important papers like social security cards, insurance policies, and birth certificates, and ask a family member or friend you trust, who lives in another part of the U.S., to hold them for you. Then, if you have to evacuate quickly, or your home is destroyed by wildfires or floods, you can start to rebuild your life.
4) Develop A Communication Plan With Your Family
We see it on the news all the time...a community is hit by disaster and loved ones are separated and don't know how to reach each other. Cell towers go down, the internet doesn't work, and basic infrastructures are destroyed, so you can't rely on cell phones and social media in every case. Make sure your household family members know where to meet up if you're all forced to evacuate, but you're not traveling together when you leave your home. Write down family members' phone numbers and put them in your BOB. Then, if your cell battery dies or you loose your phone, you'll still have important contact information. And share your evacuation and meet-up plans with relatives, too. Then they'll know where to start looking for you if they see on TV that your town's been hit by something catastrophic.
5) Practice Your Plans And Learn How To Use Your Supplies
Don't wait until disaster strikes to try your disaster plan for the first time. And, if you've bought equipment, get familiar with how it works BEFORE you need to rely on it! As you practice, you'll figure out things you've forgotten and also get used to the idea of how your disaster response works. If you have a storm shelter, like a Safe Shed, spend a few hours in it to see what you need to add to make it more comfortable. Announce a drill to your family, throw the Bug-Out-Bag in the trunk, and head out of town. Then stop and open your bag to see what supplies you have to use to survive. Having a few dry runs under your belt will help everyone in the family be more confident and comfortable when the worst happens.