How to Dig a Tornado Shelter


Tornadoes cause millions of dollars of damage annually in the United States. While it will not do anything to prevent property damage, a tornado shelter can help prevent the risk of injury or death. If you live in an area at risk of tornadoes, you should consider building a tornado shelter. Luckily, they are not difficult to build and a number of resources exist to assist the design process.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Measuring tape
  • Design your tornado shelter and plan out its size and placement. Refer to "Source 1" for design plans. Since tornadoes do not last long, not much time needs to be spent in the shelter. Therefore, allow for approximately 5 square feet of floor area per person. If you are planning for five people, the dimensions should be 5 feet by 5 feet. A recommended height is 7 feet.

  • Measure the ground where you want your shelter. Dig a hole larger than the size of the finished shelter to accommodate stairs or an entryway.

  • Dig the pit using shovels. To allow for a ceiling height of 7 feet, dig an extra two feet to accommodate the height of the floor and ceiling. If building the shelter into a room of an existing house, the tiles, floorboard, and other flooring materials will have to be removed first.

Tips & Warnings

  • By digging your shelter into the side of a hill, two thirds of the shelter will already be built.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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