A few weeks ago at long last, our family got a below-ground tornado shelter installed. You might think every Oklahoma household already has one, but that’s definitely not true. The current “shelter in place” policy which has encouraged many churches and other public shelter locations to close their doors to the public may be pushing more families to install home shelters, but that isn’t a cheap prospect. Based on the price quotes we obtained, you’re generally looking at a cost outlay of at least $3000 for a below-ground shelter. The company which installed our shelter was (as of about 3 weeks ago) running 14 different crews, who were each installing 2 or 3 new shelters per day. Ironically, following last May’s tragic F5 tornado in Moore, we have had a remarkably calm spring in central Oklahoma. We haven’t had any tornado warnings near the OKC metro area, and I don’t think we’ve even been in any tornado watches this year. We’ve received a TON of rain in the past four weeks, but it’s almost all been light and without severe winds or thunderstorm activity.

Despite this strangely calm spring weather, we’re now prepared for a tornado at our house with our new shelter. I talked with several of the teachers and staff at our school about storm shelters in April and May, however, and learned that bugs and spiders can be a BIG problem in storm shelters if you don’t take precautions. One of our school secretaries had recommended putting a large, heavy, rubber mat over the below-ground garage storm shelter to make it harder for bugs to get inside. One of our neighbors a couple weeks ago, however, had an even better suggestion that I finally implemented today.

After thoroughly vacuuming out all the debris and bugs from inside our tornado shelter, I took a 4′ x 10′ painter’s drop cloth and duck taped it down to our garage floor this afternoon. Before sealing it up, I put some bottled water and a flashlight inside. I also put four “sticky” bug traps down on the floor of the shelter just in case any bugs still manage to find their way in.

Since the painter’s drop cloth is breathable, this setup should still allow moisture to evaporate and move in and out of our shelter, but it should HOPEFULLY stop all the bugs and spiders. At this point it doesn’t seem likely we’ll be getting down into our shelter “for real” during a tornado warning this year, but in Oklahoma you never know. Since we’ve lived here the past eight years, we’ve had to take shelter several times during actual tornado warnings.

I’m glad we finally have a family underground shelter, and hope this drop cloth / duck tape solution will take care of the yukky prospect of having spiders and bugs make their home in our shelter in the meantime before we need to actually get into it.

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  • Philip_Cummings

    We need to have one of those shelters installed. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I like this tip, too.

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