Zach’s Weather Whys: Seeking storm shelter

Zach's Weather Whys

Even in Central Illinois, tornadoes can strike at any time and any place, and it’s vital that you have a way to survive the storm. Where do you seek shelter?

There can be a cloud of confusion surrounding the question of where is the safest place to go. There’s no doubt that riding out the storm in a basement can be a life saver, but a tornado shelter is a better option.

“If you live in a house with a slab, and no basement, its very important. They make two types above ground, which can be anchored to a concrete slab and it’s a steel structure capable of withstanding high winds and heavy loads,” said Spark Meister, owner of Central Illinois Storm Shelters.

Those are some wise words from Spark Meister who sells storm shelters, and those high winds can possible exceed 250 miles per hour. And even though most tornadoes will never grow that strong, that kind of power is no match for any home or building. Underground shelters are the safest, and typically range from fiberglass to concrete.

“After the tornado in Washington, we sold units that were steel units, that were being put in the basement, and they were an assembled unit. I think there was a motor home that wound up in somebody’s basement,” said Meister.

And that’s the kind of thing you want to avoid.  Above ground shelters have their faults too, and run the risk of having debris smash into the sides and even block the entry. Seeking refuge below ground is your best bet, but make sure you have the right setup. Some are better than others.

“They are triple locked, to be approved, be approved by the Texas Institute of Testing for Tornado Shelters. They have to have a three mechanism door lock. And a lot of the above ground shelters, there is a danger, more of a danger of being trapped inside,” said Meister.

One of the most dangerous places to wait out the storm is a mobile home. An EF2 tornado with winds clocked over 110 miles per hour can flatten a mobile home and also do significant damage to a sturdy structure. What about the second floor of a building? Winds are stronger the further you go up in elevation and tend to do more damage to the second floor of a home, that’s why we always say choose the lowest floor.

The idea is to put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Having a solid plan and a safe place to go is key to surviving the storm, and last but not least, have a NOAA weather radio on hand.

Join me next time for a new segment of Zach’s Weather Whys.

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