Weatherford Democrat

May 23, 2013

Shelter From a Storm

Local companies busy taking calls for storm shelters, safe rooms


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH



With the recent tornado outbreak in Texas and Oklahoma, many people are looking into areas that can keep their families safe in the event of a storm.

Storm shelters and safe rooms are considered the top two ways of doing so. Davey Vestal, a sales rep with Young Masonry in Weatherford, said the company has received several inquiries about storm shelters in recent days, as it’s the hot topic of the moment.

“It’s just like anything else. You don’t think about tires until you’re about to have a blowout,” Vestal said. “Same is true with storm shelters. If it hadn’t been for all the tornadoes of late, we wouldn’t be having as many inquiries as we are.”

Vestal said the company had about 24 inquiries about shelters Tuesday and about the same the day before, both when severe weather was forecast throughout the region. In average year, Vestal said the company may get a few inquiries.

“Just another way of making a living,” Vestal said with a laugh.

He said he sells shelters in two sizes: 6 feet by 8 feet or 7 feet by 10 feet. He said there have been some purchases of the shelters, which can run anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000, depending on size.

Smaller storm shelters can start around $2,995 with safe rooms, being somewhat larger than a shelter, starting around $5,995, according to the website of U.S. Storm Shelters, a Decatur-based company.

Vestal says storm shelters are better than safe rooms because they actually solve the problem.

“Safe rooms are still subject to the winds which you’re trying to get out of,” Vestal said. “Storm shelters are built underground to withstand the wind.”

One of the benefits of safe rooms include the ability to take it with you if you move, according to the U.S. Storm Shelters website.

Many storm safe rooms are designed as component units to be incorporated inside a home or office without the need for complex or expensive remodeling, providing excellent safety and saving a lot of money, according to usstormshelters.com.

For those who are unable to afford a storm shelter or a safe room, there are some relatively easy, simple ways to protect your home from a weaker tornado (anywhere from an EF-0 to an EF-3) or straight-line winds produced from a thunderstorm, which can have devastating effects as well.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president/CEO of Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), says something as simple as checking the caulking around your windows every year can make a home more wind and rain resistant.

“Having well-sealed windows will help reduce wind problems,” Chapman-Henderson said.

Chapman-Henderson also suggested going into your attic and taking some premium flooring adhesive and running about 1/4 inch of it through a caulking gun down the joint between the roof decking and the rafter will also help increase roof safety.

Chapman-Henderson also suggested replacing a garage door with one that is wind resistant over one of the lighter ones many people use today. Checking a garage door opener’s tracks to make sure it hasn’t come loose can help keep the garage door from becoming a projectile during a storm.

Removing debris before a storm, such as lawn gnomes, lawn furniture and even plants, can help keep a home safe as well, Chapman-Henderson said.

Visiting www.flash.org can provide other tips, including a do-it-yourself inspection or things to look for which can make a home safer during a tornado.