How to Evaluate Tornado Shelters

Tornadoes occur on a yearly basis throughout the entire United States. "Tornado Alley" got its name based on the amount of tornadoes seen along a line ranging from Texas to Oklahoma. In these regions, tornado shelters are extremely important, as they can save a life. Knowing how to evaluate a tornado shelter will save time in an emergency.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Notebook
  • Basement


  1. Evaluate a Tornado Shelter

    • 1
      Severe storms may spawn tornadoes.
      Severe storms may spawn tornadoes.

      Create checklist detailing needed components of the tornado shelter. Be thorough in your list, taking into account all occupants in the house and their relative ages. Make a note of any special needs to take care of.

    • 2
      Severe storm clouds are impressive.
      Severe storm clouds are impressive.

      Check for lower level enclosed rooms with no windows that have concrete reinforced walls. Brick or block walls with heavy concrete floors and ceilings are recommended.

    • 3
      Frequent lightning can accompany a tornado.
      Frequent lightning can accompany a tornado.

      Check the size of the room and how many people can fit inside. You will want your shelter to accommodate everyone in the house. A too-small shelter will be dangerous to those taking refuge, due to lack of space and air.

    • 4
      Clouds over the water.
      Clouds over the water.

      Store enough water for everyone in the home. Check for available space for seating and place pillows or blankets inside. Make the shelter comfortable, as well as protective.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you prefer an above-ground shelter, make it an interior room with as many walls as possible between you and the storm.
  • Determine your risk factor of tornadoes in your area. This is helpful if you decide to build a shelter in your home.
  • Have your shelter close by and easy to access quickly. You might have to make a quick entrance into the shelter.
  • Consider possible severe damage to the structure when creating a shelter inside your home. After the storm, debris may make leaving the shelter difficult. If possible, have a second exit from the shelter or store supplies inside.
  • Do not use an open hallway exposed to the approach of a tornado. Do not use a large room, such as a gym, or rooms with large windows and doors.
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  • Photo Credit Twister image by Isa from Gewitter in Kansas image by ronin-doc from big sky country 1 image by Ronnortx from lightning2 image by Iryna Petrenko from The Coming Storm image by mikep from

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