I was poking around on the internet today, looking at other storm shelter company's web sites, something I do regularly to keep up with who's new and what's happening in the industry. And I thought, just out of curiosity, I'd see if anyone is selling storm shelters on Amazon...because you can buy ANYTHING on Amazon. Sure enough, there are storm shelters available on the world's largest on-line retailer, just as I suspected.
A few of the sellers were familiar to me...I've visited their sites before or have met their company representatives. But there was a new one that I hadn't seen before who's advertising and product claims were a little questionable. And I was reminded, again, that there are a lot of storm shelter manufacturers, dealers, and installers out there in the marketplace, and you, the average consumer, have to be very, very careful about what you buy and from whom you buy.
In other words, "Buyer, beware!"
Storm shelter manufacturers and dealers have popped up like mushrooms in the past few years. Many are reputable and honest and sell a great product. But some, like the one I tripped over this afternoon, are so busy trying to make themselves look good that they misrepresent their product and, worse, the products of the competition. This particular company, for example, would like you to believe that a concrete storm shelter, like a Safe Shed, has a lifespan of 4 - 10 years, requires cranes and wide load permits to deliver, routinely suffers from cracking, and has one wall. One wall?! What the heck?
We heard from a person, about a year ago, who thought they'd bought a Safe Shed storm shelter from a company in Oklahoma. They paid 50% of the total price (I think it was about $2,000), and no one delivered a shelter or returned their phone calls after their check was cashed. Understandably, they were pretty upset when they called here. Then we helped them figure out that they had been dealing with an Oklahoma company who uses our name (among several) and sells chicken coops and deer blinds. Clearly not us, although we wondered if they were trying to snag some of our business.
So what's my point? I just want to remind you to be cautious when you're looking at storm shelters for your family. There's serious research you need to do about the company who's selling it to you, and the shelter itself. You need to know that the shelter you choose is going to save your life when severe weather strikes.
There are cheaper shelters than Safe Sheds (though not many). There are smaller and larger shelters than Safe Sheds. There are below ground and other above ground shelters, in-garage shelters, and in-home shelters. Take your time and really dig into what's going in to the shelter you choose. And, for heaven's sake, make sure the company is reputable and isn't going to take several thousand dollars from you and never deliver your chicken coop!
Questions? Give us a call. Or, better yet, hop in your car, load up the family, and take a summer road trip to our manufacturing plant. We'd be happy to have you take a look around to see how we make our storm shelters. Regardless of who you buy from, just remember...buyer, beware!
If you've been doing your homework on storm shelters, the first thing you've noticed is that they can be neatly divided into two categories: below-ground and above-ground. There are advantages to both types, but, as you'll see here, below-ground storm shelters can be inconvenient and, sometimes, dangerous. A properly engineered above-ground storm shelter, like a Safe Shed, offers proven protection against 250 mph winds.
1) Above-Ground Shelters Won't Fill With Water or Float Away!
The same severe weather that brings tornadoes often brings heavy rains, too. And in areas prone to flooding, those rains can flood below-ground shelters, making them useless. During record rainfall in Texas, improperly installed below-ground shelters began popping up in yards, floated out of the ground by high water levels. Imagine needing to take shelter only to find the shelter you normally run to is flooded or has "surfaced" in your backyard!
2) If Disaster Strikes, Can You Be Found?
Below-ground storm shelters can be buried beneath rubble and debris after a devastating tornado blows through. And, although it is rare, there are several stories every year about families becoming trapped in their below-ground storm shelter until neighbors or first responders find them after digging through the rubble. Above-ground storm shelters are much easier to see.
3) Simple Entry!
Above ground shelters are easy to enter, even for folks with mobility challenges. During severe weather, people who use a wheelchair, scooter, or walker don't need the added stress of trying to get down narrow, steep steps into a below-ground shelter. With the simple addition of a small ramp, everyone can easily enter a Safe Sheds above-ground shelter without stress or fear of falling.
There's plenty of room, inside, too, for everyone to be comfortably seated. When severe weather stays in your area for several hours, your family may need to be sheltered overnight. Just add camping cots, twin beds, or bunk beds to keep everyone comfy and safe!
4) Easy Installation!
Above-ground storm shelters don't require large holes in your yard, concrete busted out of your garage floor, or the relocation of utility and sewer lines. And, in the case of a Safe Shed, installation is as easy as setting a 24,000 lb. shelter down in your lawn, anchoring it, and driving away. Safe Shed shelters don't require the use of overhead cranes, either.
5) Above-Ground Storm Shelters Can Move With You!
We're a mobile society, with many families moving at least twice in a 20 year time span. Storm shelters are an investment, so why not buy a shelter that can move with you to your new home? The ability to move them makes them great for renters, too! Safe Sheds can load and relocate your storm shelter easily, making sure your investment AND your family are protected for the future!
If you're in the market for a storm shelter or safe room for your family or small business, here are few tips to make you a smarter shopper!
Tip 1: Get familiar with FEMA guidelines
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has published engineering, design, and inspection guidelines for storm shelters that are based on years of testing and first-hand knowledge. They've seen how shelters of all kinds perform in the worst disasters and know what does and doesn't work. Shelters that are built to FEMA's specifications provide "near absolute protection", the closest you can get to perfect. If you'd like a free digital copy of FEMA Pub. 320, "Taking Shelter In The Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business", request one here!
Tip 2: Evaluate Your Site Before You Shop
If you have a high water table, a small lot, very rocky soil, or rent your property, you'll need to keep those limitations in mind as you shop. There are several types of storm shelters on the market in a wide variety of price ranges. Knowing what will work for your family and your property will keep you from getting overwhelmed with the choices. If you're looking for a shelter that's large enough for your family, your pets, and emergency supplies, consider an 8' x 10' shelter.
Tip 3: Look To The Future
A storm shelter is an investment and should be able to accommodate your family for many years to come. Will family member have mobility challenges that might make climbing down steps difficult in the future? Are you planning to add children to the family or will older family members move closer to you, making it necessary to allow room in your shelter for a growing family? Will you move to a new home in a few years and take your shelter with you when you relocate? Look at your family's future plans before investing money in a shelter you'll quickly outgrow or not be able to use.
Tip 4: Investigate Storm Shelter Companies Before Buying
There are hundreds of storm shelter dealers out there. Make sure the company you choose is reputable, trustworthy, and does excellent work! Membership in the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) guarantees that their shelters have been tested, reviewed, and meet FEMA guidelines. And ask about requirements for down payments and final payments. At Safe Sheds, Inc., we require a 10% down payment, but many shelter sellers require as much as 50% up front before delivery.
Tip 5: Check References and Read Reviews!
When you're making a major family purchase, Google can be your best friend! Read online reviews of storm shelter companies to make sure they're trustworthy. Ask them for references to prior customers and make sure those customers were happy with the product and service they received. Safe Sheds, Inc. will gladly put you in touch with a Safe Sheds shelter owner in your area so you can call them and visit them to see a Safe Shed first hand!
"How do I apply for FEMA grant funds to help pay for my storm shelter?" is a common question we hear from buyers. The answer, contact your local Emergency Management Agency, is pretty simple. But the funding process for the grants is much more complicated than that. This infographic explains the "trickle-down economics" of FEMA storm shelter funding.
Storm shelter grant funding has slowed dramatically in the past couple of years. FEMA grants are being prioritized for climate mitigation, aquifer storage and recovery, floodplain restoration, and pre- and post-wildfire disaster mitigation activities. Re-emphasis on storm shelter funding likely won't happen until the U.S. sees an increase in the number of severe tornado outbreaks as in years past.
The long and short of it is that storm shelter grant funds from FEMA are difficult to come by, often distributed by lottery, and typically have a long wait time between award and distribution. The American Red Cross also, sometimes, offers storm shelter funding assistance to qualified applicants. So, if you're looking for purchasing help and want to pursue grants, contact your local EMA and/or Red Cross office to find out what is available in your community. Good luck and happy hunting!