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Living In A Tornado-Prone Area Without A Basement? What You Can Do

If you live in an area of the country that is prone to tornadoes, one of the things that you likely want in your home is a basement. However, some houses simply do not have basements. If you live in a home without a basement, you may be wondering what you can do to stay safe if a tornado does drop nearby and threaten your town and home. Before you panic and start looking for new houses with basements, get to know some of the things you can do when you live in an area that experiences tornadoes without a basement. Then, you can be certain that you are doing everything in your power to protect your family from danger in case a tornado does hit. 

Determine If You Have a Room in Your Home for a Shelter

If you have a home layout where you have a half-basement (an area partially underground) or you have a split-level home with a lower level, you may be able to use a room in your home as a sort of makeshift storm shelter. If you have an interior room in your lower level that has no windows or walls that are exterior walls (i.e. a room in the middle of your house), this would be an ideal storm shelter area. 

Bathrooms, whether interior or exterior rooms, are also good storm shelters as the plumbing can help reinforce the room. It is best, though, if there are no exterior windows in the bathroom. Another option would be a space underneath the stairs in your home. Oftentimes, this is a storage area, but if you can keep it partially clear, this is an ideal place to wait out a tornado warning. 

Consider Building an Underground Storm Shelter

If makeshift shelters in your home do not appeal to you or you do not have a room in your home that can fulfill that purpose, one option you may have is to build a detached underground shelter. Underground storm shelters are essentially small rooms built into the ground that will protect you from tornadoes. They have heavy-duty doors that are designed to be as wind-resistant as possible (based on their weight and their angle to the ground. 

The room itself will likely be made of concrete for structural strength. You can build a tiny underground storm shelter just big enough to house your family or you can opt for a slightly larger shelter in which you can store supplies like bottled water, flashlights, a radio, and other storm provisions. 

Generally speaking, costs can range from $2500 to about $18000, depending on how much space you want and what amenities you want in your storm shelter. A basic shelter with room for your family and supplies would be on the low end of that spectrum. 

Build a Basement

If you are planning to stay in your home for a long time and want to make it more storm-friendly, then your alternative option is to actually build a basement. Basement construction in an existing home is possible, believe it or not. 

Building a basement under your home will require the expertise of several professionals, including structural engineers, architects, and of course, the construction contractors. It can be an expensive undertaking, but there are numerous upsides to having a basement in a tornado-prone area. 

First of all, you will have a storm shelter right in your home so you do not need to go outside or hope that an existing room will withstand a tornado if it directly hits your home. Second of all, if you finish your new basement, you will be adding more living space to your home. And, of course, if you ever do decide to sell your home, you will be more likely to find a buyer if you have a basement of any kind.

Now that you know some of the steps you can take if you do not have a basement in an area prone to tornadoes, you can start making adjustments to your home as soon as possible.


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