OKLAHOMA CITY —
“A lot of jurisdictions do not have building inspectors that are well enough qualified to inspect a storm shelter,” Kiesling said. “It’s nothing like a building. You have a small slab that is anchored to a small concrete slab.”
Safety and a considerable monetary investment also is on the line, so Kiesling said it’s important that people choose shelter companies carefully and ask sound questions so they don’t find themselves trapped inside a bad shelter.
There are horror stories of doors getting ripped off shelters in the middle of tornadoes as people huddle inside, and FEMA has discovered shelters — particularly older ones —that weren’t built in compliance with standards, he said. The first shelter standards weren’t adopted until about 1999, he said.
Kiesling said there are a couple of questions consumers should always ask including, has the shelter been impact-tested; is there an engineering report for the design; how will it be ventilated; and, if it’s going to be installed above ground, how it is going to be anchored.
If a company can answer the questions confidently and directly, Kiesling said they’re probably legitimate, but “if they give you a blank stare, you might want to look elsewhere.”
Another red flag: claims that FEMA, Texas Tech or the NSSA has certified a company’s shelter. The organizations do not certify individual shelters, he said.
“If it says it’s NSSA approved or FEMA certified it’s a red flag because that’s an advertising scheme that’s not really validated,” he said.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.