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Best Way to Build Tornado Shelter?

This is a discussion on Best Way to Build Tornado Shelter? within the XDTalk Chatter Box forums, part of the XD Talk category; What is the best way to build a storm shelter underground? I have googled it, but everybody says get one pre-built or make a safe ...

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Old 11-16-2005, 11:49 PM   #1
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Best Way to Build Tornado Shelter?

What is the best way to build a storm shelter underground? I have googled it, but everybody says get one pre-built or make a safe room in your home. I'm looking to dig a hole in the ground and put cinder blocks and stuff in it to make it strong and safe and CHEAP. I don't want to live in it. So, does anyone have a link to good instructions? Whta kind of roof structure is best? Do you fill the cinder blooks with concrete? Etc.

And, I could call it my FORT!

Thanks,
Tony
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Old 11-17-2005, 12:14 AM   #2
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Put bomb, fall out, or diasater shelter in a search, you might get what your looking for.
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Old 11-17-2005, 01:29 AM   #3
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+1 on the bomb shealter thing!

thats crazy i was just wondering how they where made the other day after watching a show about tornados! being from the midwest root/storm cellars are a common thing with older house's. but most of those where made from sandstone or cement. some of the trailer parks have the steel underground ones.

the way i came up with would be rent a backho dig a decent size square hole then either use cender blocks or cement for the walls and roof. you could even go as far as to make aminitys (sp) like a generator, furniture dry food goods MRE's, games, etc depending on how long you where going to stay in it! oh yeah dont for get a bad ass door out of steel! and a ventilation/air pipe i think mine would be more like a fall out shelter lol
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:21 AM   #4
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Just do not use any FEMA/Civil Defense plans from the 50s or 60s. It is a well known fact that the fallout shelter made by the then director of Civil Defense as a demo project for th public burned and collapsed shortly after he finished it. Depending on how paranoid you are you may wish to include the air filters and rad counters. One can never be too prepared, can one?
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Old 11-17-2005, 04:34 PM   #5
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If you want to "underground" it, the easiest way is to backhoe an 8-10" trench in the outer dimensions of your hidey-hole. Fill it with rebar, and pour it full of concrete. Then excavate the center and pour your floor. The filled-trench construction eliminates the need for backfil (which eliminates a whole host of problems with shifting, settling, expansion, etc). The downside is that you have to finish out the rough interior wall.

I'm getting away from wanting to have a below-grade storm shelter for several reasons....

-It is almost as cost-effective to build it into a room of your home, which is more easily accessible in times of emergency. Unless you are limited by space, having an above-grade shelter allows you level-floor access. This really comes in handy should you ever find yourself in a limited-mobility situation (crutches or wheelchair) or have guests that require special access. It also allows you to use the room as something else in the during "non-emergency" times. More on that below.

-A grade-level shelter is less likely to fill with debris or water from the collapsed structure (several of the dead in the OKC tornado actually survived the tornado only to drown in their inescapable basements). Let's face it, a basement is a big hole in the ground with an unstable pile of lumber and brick on top of it. If that pile of lumber and brick goes "poof" it's gonna collapse the way nature intended - straight down. If you are trapped in your basement you have a whole host of problems at that point, especially if you are injured and unable to scream for assistance. If you are injured, trapped in your basement, unable to scream for assistance, and it is filling with water from broken pipes, well, for your heir's sake I hope your life insurance is paid up.

-You can integrate the storm shelter into an overall surviveability plan for your home by having the shelter do double duty as a panic/survival room. One of the most well thought-out plans I've seen had the room doing double-duty as a large walk-in/walk-thru pantry. In the room there was a water supply that was valved seperately at the meter along with a valved loop for the main supply (i.e. the main supply could be shut off from inside the room). Ditto for the gas supply. The plan also called for a small natural-gas stove, some basic food prep items, and a small tool kit to be wrapped in protective cloth/paper and stored unobtrusively in a corner locker. The room was wide enough that the sliding doors (made of plate steel) could be completely out of sight to the side. They could also be dogged shut from the inside with a single lever. Construction was poured reinforce concrete (thing "bank vault")

The plan really struck me as sensible for a couple of reasons. It was built into a pantry, which means you have a sheltered food supply (food - basic essential #1). The divertable water and gas supplies, along with the stove, utensils, and tools, give you the means to cook and sanitize food and water (water - basic essential #2). Plus, the room where you rode out the storm is still there as short term emergency shelter (basic essential #3). All that and the walk-thru design gives you a means of escape should one side become blocked. I guess you could even integrate some type of exterior egress or hidey-hole escape hatch and passageway if you wanted the absolute ultimate in surviveability.

I might even go a step further and divide it into two rooms and add a small vault door. Add some type of dry fire suppression system and - "Viola!" - built in secure storage for valuables along with protection of the three basic life essentials. This also means you also have the ability to secure your SHTF gear and any essential financial/business records in the same shelter as your basic survical stuff. Wrap it all in some type of thermal barrier and use fire-rated doors and "BAM!" you have a fire-rated shelter as well. It would be a severe pain in the behind to retrofit into exhisting structures, but should be simple to integrate into new construction.

Brad
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Old 11-17-2005, 06:36 PM   #6
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I like the filled trench idea. The reason beside cost that I cannot do a safe room setup is that I live in a preacher's home--It doesn't belong to me. One day, I will hopefully build a house and make a room like that with a large gun safe in it, as well. Thanks for all the info.

What kind of top does one put on the filled trench type before covering it with dirt?
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Old 11-18-2005, 09:54 AM   #7
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http://www.disastershelters.net/

or you could do what I always wanted to do .. http://www.silohome.com/ or http://www.missilebases.com/

buy a missile silo and convert it
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Old 11-18-2005, 11:03 AM   #8
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Once the excavation is complete and the floor is poured you can build supports for a ceiling/form that you can use to pour the ceiling.

Also, if you want a truly "quickie" hidey hole, you can buy a section of 6" concrete drain pipe and simply bury it. Once it's in the ground, and before it's covered, you can place scrap lumber and heavy sheet plastic across one end for a plug. The other end you can brick up or form up and pour your stairs and entrace. I saw a guy go this a few years back and it seemed to work pretty well. He said he got the idea from one of his parents' neighbors, who used the same concept to build a bomb shelter in the 50's.

For that matter, if all you want is a place to go when the weather gets wild, get a small septic tank (new, not used!) and bury it. Most of them alread have an access port in the top. Just built up some stairs and rig up a way to secure the cover from the inside and you're in business.

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Old 11-18-2005, 11:41 AM   #9
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I've seen some shows about the missile silo homes. They look like awesome places to live. They are quiet and you get all that one-time state of the art construction for very little. But, there are probably not too many missile silos where I live, if any. There are plenty of grain silos!

I found a plan for a nuke shelter that was developed and tested by the gov back in the day. They actually dropped a bomb near it (within a quarter mile) and their instrumentation indicated people would have survived. It was made of that culvert material, but it was 8-9 foot diameter and buried about 20-feet down.

For tornados, I'm thinking cheap, but clean and fairly easy to access is good for me. I'm looking at the 6' pipe idea and found some plans for it, but it seems a little hard to get into quickly. Plans, however, can be modified.

I actually helped a man make a shelter from a septic tank (new!) one time, and I didn't like the idea of having to get down in that thing. He lived in a trailer, and wanted a cheap way to be protected. I dug the hole for that with a shovel and it was a pain in the hind-end. Maybe that would be a good option, though, if the entrance hole could be enlarged a little.
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Old 11-18-2005, 01:26 PM   #10
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Two words...Hobbit Hole!

Build a cement structure into the side of a hill with the door on the lee side. Or build your structure about half way into the ground and cover with dirt/sod etc so you have a half mound. Or, build it at ground level but mound dirt over it.

Actually, a cement block storage shed on a slab would probabaly withstand a couple hundred miles an hour wind.
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