Better tornado shelter: Above-ground or below-ground?

TULSA, Okla. — If you’ve been in the market for purchasing a shelter, you’ll see that they come in two main categories: above-ground and below-ground.

Both options offer a great deal of safety, but there are pros and cons to both.

Below-Ground Shelters

Below ground is the safest place to be in a tornado.

These shelters can be installed in a number of spots around your house or in your garage without taking up much space.

However, accessibility can be tough for anyone who can’t easily navigate stairs.

If you park on top of one, you’ll have to move a vehicle before you can get to the shelter, and debris can cover them up after a tornado, making it a longer rescue process.

Above-Ground Shelters

Above-ground shelters are bolted into the foundation but do take up space in your house.

They can be integrated into your house as a closet or pantry in new construction. Otherwise, they are usually connected to the foundation in your garage.

Above-ground shelters are easier to access in a pinch and less prone to unwanted critters or water seepage.

They are also easier to escape following a tornado.

Finding a shelter

For either type of shelter, look for certification from FEMA and the National Storm Shelter Association. That provides the assurance these shelters have passed rigorous tests to withstand the strongest of tornadoes.

Find a list of certified shelter companies here.

Find more information about safe rooms here.