5 things I learned from buying a storm shelter
Editor's note: This article was originally published May 16, 2014.
My wife and I finally got a storm shelter. We’re not sure what took us so long, but last year’s severe weather season made up our mind for us.
Our outdoor shelter was installed earlier this week, and here are some things I learned from the entire process.
I began with researching what company to go with. I called eight different ones and compared customer reviews, prices and shelter sizes. I went with a company out of Perry, Okla., based mostly on the fact that I have friends who did business with them and had nothing but positive things to say. It also helped that this company had the lowest price for the size of shelter we wanted.
Prices ranged from $2,500ish (what we paid) to just south of $4,000, and all for comparable shelter sizes. And while a couple grand isn’t pocket change, it’s not an outrageous amount of money for what you get: A safe place for your family, an investment for your property and peace of mind.
Keep in mind, too, that you likely will be put on a waiting list ranging from a couple of months to six-plus months. So, while Company A might have the shelter you want for the best price, they might also have the longest waiting list; while Company B might be a tad more expensive, but can pencil you in earlier in the year.
Two guys arrived around 10:45 a.m. and left around 12:45 p.m., so within two hours they: Dug the hole, leveled the ground, dropped in the shelter, sealed it, padded it with earth, cleaned it, packed up and drove off. They were kind and answered all of the questions I had, and kept me informed of the steps they were taking as they installed the shelter.
I expected it to take at least double that time, based mostly on my ignorance since I didn’t ask how long it would take.
My goodness was there a lot of dirt dug up. It’s easy to picture, in your mind, a six-foot hole in your backyard, but seeing it is a completely different thing entirely. And seeing all the dirt that once filled that hole is something else.
The crew used the dirt to fill in the gaps surrounding the shelter, and then did their best to flatten what was left. Over time the dirt will settle and grass will sprout again, but until then my two dogs are having a grand time running up and down the mounds.
The shelter is installed! What now?
You have to fill it with things! Important things. Like blankets, first-aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, pet food, water, and any other essentials. So, unless you have these things already lying around, you’re going to be spending at least another $60 to $200 on these supplies, depending how many things and what brands you want to buy.
I knew I’d feel some relief once the shelter became ready for use, but I didn’t expect to literally feel a load lifted off my shoulders that, I guess, I had been carrying for a while now. Being a journalist in the state of Oklahoma means tornado season is a busy time that requires me to be away from my home and loved ones; and I feel a lot better now knowing my family has a safe place they can go to that’s just steps away from the back door.
Of course, a storm shelter is just part of the equation to being weather ready. Always keep your eyes on the news, and practice plans your family has in place for when severe weather hits.
I hope this gives people some insight on what it’s like to have an outdoor shelter installed, and what you can expect.
Stay safe out there.