Most shelters you've seen have been above ground. This one's designed to fit into a pre-planned & excavated hole in the foundation of your house. Once the shelter's positioned, the concrete poured to form the slab encases the entire shelter in concrete, except for a hatch that's accessible from an interior room. That hatch is mounted flush in the floor of that interior room. Blowing debris won't penetrate the concrete & the earth, so you're safe until the storm passes.
Our plumbing crew had to rework a lot of their original ground plumbing to accommodate this shelter. So obviously, thorough preplanning before you pour your foundation will eliminate a lot of aggravation & expense.
The shelter looks like two hot tubs attached - it's made out of the same fiberglass material (gel-coat fiberglass). Exterior dimensions are 80"x80"x48 ½" . Interior dimensions are 69 ½" x 69 ½" x 41 ¼". The Access hatch is made of steel, weighs 19 lbs, and covers an opening 28 ½" square. The hatch opens downward so it won't catch a gust of wind as you enter and exit.
This shelter is not designed for adults to stand in. It has a maximum capacity of six to eight adults, depending on size. The shelter is waterproof, but it's not submersible. For outdoor installations, TornadoGuard offers an optional rain cover so water won't come in through the top hatch.
Ventilation - The shelter is designed for staticventilation (air flows in & out through 6" PVC pipes). You or your plumber can install these pipes once the shelter is in place.
Safety Contact with the Outside World - You should be able to pick up radio signals or use a cell phone inside the shelter. We recommend that you test for signal strength in your shelter before assuming these devices will work inside the shelter.
TornadoGuard Options - The manufacturers offer an optional system that includes the following:
Panic Button - This will tie in to your existing monitored alarm system. Hit this button to notify the authorities. Power Ventilation Fan - This battery-powered fan will provide a constant source of fresh air to occupants. Emergency Siren - A battery-powered siren will blast noise outside of the home, alerting people to your location. The optional system also includes two electrical outlets, cable television hookup, and a telephone jack.
TornadoGuardTornadoGuard installation - The manufacturers claim a homeowner with any technical skill can install the unit as a Do-it-yourself job.
1. Measure out the precise area where the shelter will sit in the slab. Dig a hole 8' x 8' x 24" deep (this depth depends on slab height), and place the shelter on a leveled & compacted base. TornadoGuard weighs 400 to 450 lbs. Approximately four people can lift it and place it in its excavated hole. For safety, you should wear back braces & gloves when lifting.
2. Backfill the hole with sand and dirt to secure the TornadoGuard. We actually built a concrete floor & concrete walls around our shelter for maximum security & strength.
3. Before concrete is poured into your foundation, run the ventilation pipe. TornadoGuard has a ventilating pipe fitting in and out of the shelter. You can install the plastic pipe (mint-green PVC) yourself (or a plumber can easily do this) on-site once the shelter is set in place. This creates an air-path for static ventilation. You can also purchase the optional system that provides powered ventilation (amongother features). You'll have to run electrical conduit for wiring to this system of options. Once you install rebar or cables, you're ready to pour the concrete slab.
4. After the slab is poured, the shelter is completely secure beneath the concrete, ready to use. The hatch is positioned to sit flush in the floor of an interior room
Retrofits - This shelter can be installed under patios, storage sheds, inside basements, beneath or behind mobile homes, and within a pier & beam foundation. Obviously it's more effective underground than above ground. If you can't dig up the foundation of your existing home for a retrofit, you could achieve nearly the same security by burying this shelter in the ground, as long as you provide yourself adequate ventilation and adequate access from your living area.
Tornado Survival Tips
A shelter like this does no good if you don't practice how to get into it when a storm hits. The National Weather Service recommends you stock a tornado shelter with these emergency supplies: flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit and manual, emergency food and water, non-electric can opener, essential medicines, cash and credit cards, sturdy shoes, portable battery operated radio and extra batteries. You should also have a bucket with a lid (for personal sanitation in case you spend an extended period in the shelter), an emergency scanner, and a cell phone with batteries and a charger. Many times after a tornado hits, local phone lines will not be operational. It's sometimes easier to call long distance. Pick a long distance relative and/or friend as a contact person.