FamilySafe Discusses Adding Storm Shelters to New Homes

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People who are building new homes may not consider the importance of a shelter until a tornado is at their door. Vince Mims, president of FamilySAFE, a storm shelter manufacturing company, offers some tips for adding a shelter while building a new house.

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Tornadoes may not get the same kind of press as hurricanes, but they are far more frequent. Just about every state east of the Rocky Mountains gets them on a regular basis. Preliminary numbers for 2007 estimate 1,278 tornadoes touched down this year alone. Of those, 22 were killer tornadoes, resulting in 79 deaths throughout the United States.

Those who grew up in Tornado Alley -- a breeding ground for tornadoes which stretches through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas -- know the importance of having a safe room or a storm shelter in the house. Even so, people who are building new homes may not consider the importance of a shelter until a tornado is at their door. Vince Mims, president of FamilySAFE (http://familysafeshelters.com/), a storm shelter manufacturing company, offers some tips for adding a shelter while building a new house.

"If you live in Tornado Alley, you can probably recite exactly where you're supposed to go in event of a tornado: lowest level, smallest room, center of the house," said Mims, whose shelters have been featured on ABC's "Extreme Home Makeover." "When you add a storm shelter to your house, you know that your family will be safe in an otherwise devastating event. That's a real peace of mind."

Mims says that cost worries shouldn't be a huge factor for people considering adding a storm shelter to their house, as it will only add a couple of dollars a month at most to a house payment.

"A lot of people will just roll the cost of the storm shelter into their mortgage," said Mims. "We've even had people retro-fitting their unit that will just add the cost into their mortgage."

A storm shelter or tornado shelter can be built into a master closet or a food pantry, or even added just about anywhere there's space for a closet in a house design. According to Mims, shelters can be custom-built so that they can fit into any design space with new construction.

"It's best if you can get the plans for the shelter in the original design phase, so that you already have space allotted for a tornado shelter," said Mims. "That way, you don't have to go back later and try to fit it in somewhere."

Home owners who missed getting a storm shelter in to their design phase can still integrate it after the fact. However, Mims says, they'll have to be prepared for extra costs associated with custom building.

"Storm shelters can usually be made to fit any existing closet space, if you've moved past the design phase," Mims said. "However, it becomes a little harder and a little more costly in that case."

Mims recommends that people look for a shelter company that has had its storm shelters tested for penetration at Texas Tech University. They should also find out what anchors the company uses to stabilize their shelters.

"When we had our shelter tested at Texas Tech, we actually had somebody inside it while they were firing two-by-fours at it," Mims said. "That's never been done before. We also use Hilti anchors, which are the same anchors used by NASA."

Mims also says people should make sure their shelters have been approved by the National Storm Shelter Association.

"You should always, always, always use a shelter that's been approved by the NSSA," Mims said. "They look for things like proper ventilation and have third party engineering tests. It's the best way to make sure you're getting a quality storm shelter."

To get started with adding a storm shelter to your home, visit FamilySAFE online at http://familysafeshelters.com

About FamilySafe:
FamilySAFE was established in 1998 to fill the need of a shelter that could be placed in a building after the foundation and walls were constructed. Since then, they have been the only company endorsed by the Hilti Anchorage Company and been featured twice on ABC's TV series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." They are also the only shelter company to have had someone inside their shelter while it was tested for penetration at Texas Tech University.

Press release provided by Xeal Inc. (http://xeal.com)

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