Model BP-3060 Storm Shelter

6 Person Capacity

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Model BP-5363 Storm Shelter

11 Person Capacity

 

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This news update will address storm shelter related topics concerning the FEMA grant program, basic educational data concerning storm shelters and other topics related to the April 27th tornado. 

Thursday
Sep132012

FEMA Interactive Page

FEMA has an interactive page on their website that is very informative. You can click on each state and it summarizes what was going on the day before a major disaster and then what the disaster was. The point of the page is to encourage people to be prepared because you never know when a disaster could take place. 

http://www.ready.gov/today

Thursday
Mar152012

Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission

Unfortunately I have put on hold installing shelters because of the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission deciding that they should regulate storm shelters.  This is a classic example a governmental entity making things difficult with no benefit to the regulated community.  Shelters are in no way similar to manufactured houses or buildings and this commission does not have the expertise to regulate them.  What they do have is the ability to require shelter manufacturers and installers to pay them a fee per shelter to affix their stickers to the shelter.  This is in addition to the $1,000 plus annual fees, mandatory training and bonds that must be acquired to meet their code.  Last year this Commission filled out a form to change thier code because the previously mentioned stickers must be placed near the electrical panel.  Since most shelters did not have electricity, the code had to be changed to funnel shelters into their grasp.  They also stated this change in code would have no economic impact or increase in the cost of goods.

These regulations will do one of two things.  I will either close my business, or have to increase the price of shelters approximately 10% to cover the fees and bond requirements.  It is not fair to the citizens of Alabama to have to pay this tax on an already expensive product.  Out of state manufacturers have simply said that they will pull out of Alabama if these regulations hold.

Thankfully, Senator Paul Bussman introduced a bill (sb136) which will exempt individual storm shelters from these regulations.  This bill passed through the Senate with no opposition and is now before the House (hb288) being scheduled for a vote.  Representative Buttram is the house sponsor.  Please take the time to contact your representative and ask them to support HB288.  Click on the link below and type in your zip to find your representative.

http://www.legislature.state.al.us/misc/zipsearch.html

Thanks,

Thursday
Feb162012

Birmingham Home and Garden Show

We have a booth set up at the Birmingham Home and Garden Show which started today and runs through Sunday.  We have a 6 person shelter as well as an 11 person shelter on display.  Please come by and visit us if you plan on attending.

Saturday
Feb042012

Alabama Storm Shelter Grant Program

The Birmingham news announced today that 1159 shelters grants were approved by FEMA for individual storm shelters.  As of now, none of the 400 grants submitted by residents of Jefferson County have been approved. In all, 4000 applications were submitted statewide with, 77 million dollars in the mitigation fund.  They also mentioned that the recent tornado event may put more money into the fund.  

Remember that if you have submitted an application it is imperative that you do not purchase or begin the installation of a shelter until the County EMA has contacted you and given you permission to begin.  If you purchase or install a storm shelter before you have been contacted you will no longer be eligible.  If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at keith.gwin@alashelters.com

Also, if the company that you placed on your shelter estimate cannot provide the shelter listed, contact me for the possibility of using one of our shelters.

aboveground precast storm shelterRebar in the BP-606070-SS aboveground precast concrete storm shelter.  

Friday
Jan202012

Wind Pressure vs. Surface Area

One of the most common questions I am asked concerns how an above ground storm shelter could possibly be able to withstand the winds from an EF5 tornado.  Many people make reference to seeing a semi-trailer blown across a road or field, and try to relate that to an above ground storm shelters vulnerability to extreme winds.  Although these objects (trailers) are heavy, they are relatively light when compared to the surface that the wind is able to "grab".  If you have ever used an umbrella on a windy day you can relate to what I am talking about.  With the umbrella closed the wind will feel strong, but with it open you will be hard pressed to stand in one spot.  This is due to the extra surface area created by the umbrella being open. 

An EF5 tornado has ground level wind speeds in excess of 200 mph.  Using a basic formula that converts this to pressure, a 200 mph wind exerts approximately 100 psf (pounds per square foot) of pressure on a flat surface.  In a nutshell, the larger the object, the more it must weigh to resist this force. 

A large semi-trailer is approximately 53 ft long, 8.5 ft tall and weights 14,500 pounds.  Using the wind pressure mentioned above: 100 psf * (53ft*8.5ft) = 45,050 lbs.  This is the what the semi-trailer must weigh to keep this wind from sliding it across the ground (this is not taking friction into account).  Since it only weighs 14,500 pounds it doesn't stand a chance!

The stand alone storm shelter that I offer (Model BP-606070-Storm Shelter) is: 7ft x 8.5ft and weighs 25,000 pounds!  Using the same wind pressure in the calculation above: 100 psf x (7ft*8.5ft) = 5,950 pounds.  Since this storm shelter weighs 25,000 pounds, it is heavy enough that the wind can not slide it across the ground.  The key to above ground storm shelter design is to have small surface areas and a lot of mass to resist forces created by the tornado.

The above calculations are very basic and are only being used to convey the point that an above ground storm shelter, designed properly, can protect you from extreme winds.  When designing a shelter, more factors come in to play such as negative pressures, uplift, friction, and soil suction.  I will be glad to discuss any of these topics so feel free to contact me.