Homeowners Advised to Research Storm Shelters

Written by Cory Chandler

DATE: April 4, 2006
CONTACT: Cory Chandler, cory.chandler@ttu.edu
(806) 742-2136


LUBBOCK, TEXAS – As awareness of devastating storms like tornadoes and hurricanes increases, the storm shelter industry is booming. However, homeowners should be aware that not all storm shelters are the same.

Dr. Ernst Kiesling, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Texas Tech University and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association, urges buyers to look for a seal of the National Storm Shelter Association when they buy a safe room for their home.

This seal verifies that the shelter is in compliance with the association’s standard, the most extensive and comprehensive shelter standard available.

Although there are a variety of products available for homes, Kiesling says, many shelters are not being designed by engineers or architects who are familiar with the wind loads present during tornadoes.

The association was created to ensure the highest quality of manufactured and constructed storm shelters to protect people against tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Members must have their product tested through certified, independent entities for compliance with association performance standards.

Shelters should be built to standards laid out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency booklet, entitled FEMA 320, Taking Shelter from the Storm. This booklet gives specifications, including the construction plan and estimated cost, for building a safe room inside a house. The booklet can be ordered at http://www.fema.gov/fima/tsfs02.shtm.

More information about the association can be found at http://www.nssa.cc/. The association’s shelter standard, along with brochures indicating what comprises quality in a storm shelter, are presented on the Web site.

Kiesling specializes in debris impact and storm shelter quality. He can speak on
the construction and use of residential and community shelters. Kiesling has more than 30 years of experience in the field documenting debris damage and testing different materials and types of construction.

Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center tests the strength of building materials using a wind cannon that allows simulation of debris hurled by the most intense tornados seen in the United States.

The center has performed dozens of product tests for an international slate of manufacturers and organizations like the Portland Cement Association, The Engineered Wood Association and DuPont.


CONTACT: Ernst Kiesling, professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3451, ext. 235, or ernst.kiesling@ttu.edu.