What You Need to Know Before Buying a Storm Shelter

Researchers say above ground shelters like this one performed just as well as in-ground shelters in Moore.

After May's deadly tornadoes, Chief Meteorologist Jennifer Zeppelin received many emails and phone calls about storm shelters. To help answer your questions, she put together this guide of things you need to know before you buy a storm shelter.

Which is better: above-ground or in-ground?

You may have heard that nothing above ground can survive a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado. That's not necessarily the case, according to the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University. Researchers say both in-ground and above-ground shelters performed well during the May 20th tornado in Moore. Teams from the Wind Institute found 16 above ground safe rooms in or near the damage path and all were intact.

Make Sure Your Storm Shelter is Certified.

The Wind Institute at Texas Tech not only tests and researchers shelters, they also certify shelters. A certified shelter is tested to make sure it meets the standards to survive a direct hit from a tornado. Monty McGee own Tornado Alley Armor in Broken Arrow and says the danger comes when people buy safe rooms that haven't gone through testing.

"There are a lot of people that have a septic tank businesses and they decide to build storm shelters or Bob's Welding company or something or whatever and he decides to build storm shelters on the side," McGee said. "They don't have to meet any requirements or do any testing or anything and they can start selling safe rooms."

You can view a list of shelters that have been tested on the Wind Institute's website.

Is There a Difference Between A Shelter in Your House and One in Your Backyard?

The Texas Tech researchers says both safe rooms and shelters in your house are just as safe as a cellar or in-ground shelter in your backyard. However, they say inside is better. They say a cellar will keep you safe during a tornado, but research shows people put off taking shelter longer - sometimes even until the last minute - if they have to go outside. That delay can put you and your family at risk while trying to get to your shelter.

For more frequently asked questions about storm shelters, check out this guide from the Wind Institute.