You might not think of it as a priority, but your disaster shelter should be customized to fit the needs of you and your family.
Don’t follow advice from others or use generic plans that are available online.
It’s important to take into account any special medical needs, allergies, pets, budget considerations, and more!
In this blog post, I will share seven ways on how you can customize your disaster shelter.
1. Build a Shelter That is Large Enough for Your Family
The standard 8’x10′ size of a typical underground storm shelter is far too small for most families.
Your family needs room to move around comfortably, and an 8×10 space can quickly become overcrowded during an emergency situation.
Since it may be impossible to add on to your existing shelter, you must choose the size of your shelter before it’s built.
For example, an 8’x12′ or 10’x12′ shelter will give much more space for people to move around freely.
This added space can also come in handy when storing supplies in the event of a long-term emergency.
Another important consideration is the number of people who will be using the shelter.
Soil and debris can shift and settle during, and after a disaster, so it’s best to build your shelter large enough for double the amount of people who might be using it.
2. Build a Shelter With an Alternate Entrance.
The side entrance is convenient for those entering and exiting the shelter, but a rear entrance also provides an added layer of security.
Having a second door means that you can lock your primary front entrance and escape through the back if a suspicious person or group is nearby.
The shelter itself should have locks on both doors so occupants can secure themselves from the inside when necessary.
3. Improve Ventilation
Proper air circulation is a must for any shelter and not just for comfort.
Carbon dioxide poisoning can occur when there’s poor ventilation or overcrowding in an enclosed space, so take steps to increase the fresh air flow into your shelter during an emergency situation.
Purchasing a high-quality ductless HVAC unit is one option, or you can use this alternative way to improve air circulation.
4. Select the Right Flooring For Your Shelter
The standard concrete floor of a typical underground storm shelter may be durable, but it’s also cold and hard on bare feet.
You’ll want something that provides more comfort while still being easy to clean.
One option is to cover the concrete floor with carpet. It will not only provide more warmth and softness, but it could also act as an additional layer of insulation. You can find all kinds of colors and styles of carpet online here.
Carpet tiles are another good option because they come in different patterns and can be easily replaced if they become damaged.
5. Add a Safety Exit Around the Entrance
It’s always better to have a plan B, and this definitely applies to your shelter as well.
You never know what could happen during an earthquake or other type of disaster, so having a backup plan is extremely important for everyone’s safety.
One example of a safe exit is an escape hatch.
It provides an easy way for you and your family to get out of the shelter quickly if something goes wrong during an earthquake or other disaster, and it’s also big enough to fit a human being through it.
6. Add Safety Features to the Entrance
The best way to keep your family safe when they need to enter and exit the shelter is by adding safety features around the entrance.
For instance, you can use steel frames with heavy-duty hinges to reinforce the entrances of your shelter, or you can add bars so that nobody can easily force their way inside in the event of an emergency.
7. Add an Emergency Kit to Your Shelter
One of the best ways to keep your family safe during a natural disaster is by adding an emergency kit to your shelter, which will contain all the supplies you need should there be no power or fresh water for days.
The list below contains some items that can help get you started; flashlights, a fire extinguisher, portable radio with batteries, a first aid kit, food, water, and non-perishable snacks.
Here are the seven ways on how you can customize your disaster shelter;
1. Build a shelter that is large enough for your family.
2. Build a shelter with an alternate entrance.
3. Improve ventilation.
4. Select the right flooring for your shelter.
5. Add a safety exit around the entrance
6. Add safety features to the entrance.
7. Add an emergency kit to your shelter.
I am an independent safety and survival expert and consultant. I have over 15+ years of experience working with corporations and individuals to help identify, remediate and prepare for threats and and disasters. I help clients understand risks and blog about my thoughts and techniques at DisasterShelters.net