Though there is a lot of information to read about FEMA Standards & Certification on this page, it is very important information. For you own safety, please read below and do your research.
No matter what storm shelter you decide is right for you, for your safety and the safety of your family make sure you are getting a shelter that has been tested by Texas Tech University Wind Research Center and meets the safety requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
We have recently been informed that several manufacturers who claim to produce shelters/safe rooms which have been tested by Texas Tech University have changed the design of their shelter. To meet safety requirements shelters should be re-tested after any change in the door system of the shelter (including the locking and/or hinge system and peep-holes) and after any major design change of the entire shelter. Though customers often prefer to have a peep-hole added to the door of their storm shelter and many manufacturers have added these to their design to meet make their customers happy, Texas Tech University Wind Research Center advises against peep-holes. During the rigorous testing peep-holes turn into projectiles which could potentially be life threatening to the occupants of the shelter. On another note some of these shelter manufacturers also claim to be members of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) but are no longer members. Many of these former members have withdrawn their membership because they did not want to re-test their product after design changes. Keep in mind that an unwillingness of a manufacturer to re-test could be considered a worry by that manufacturer that the new, more economical design may not be as safe as the originally tested product.
Another thing to watch for is copycats. In our search for the best shelter for our own family, my wife and I found several “copycat” shelters on the market. These companies took the designs of tested shelter manufacturers, took various shortcuts in their own manufacturing process and produced an inferior product. Without thorough research, however, the average customer cannot determine the difference. Oftentimes, these shelters do not have doors that meet FEMA and Texas Tech University standards in either general construction or in locking mechanisms among other deficiencies we found. These “copycat” manufacturers are taking your life into their hands by selling you an inferior product with no regard for your safety. Please, for your own sake, make sure the shelter your life is depending on is an approved, safe shelter.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in cooperation with the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University, has developed specific performance criteria for tornado shelters. For more information on that performance criteria, please contact FEMA in Washington D.C. or via the FEMA web site.
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