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Storm Shelters

Ok, so you've got your plan in place to build a storm shelter or you've just built one. Great! But wait! You're not even close to being done and ready to take shelter when disaster strikes.

Storm shelters, whether built above ground or below ground, are no good for anyone if they're just an empty shell. Would you consider trying to drive a car down the freeway without a steering wheel or headlights at night?

Of course not. But that's just as ridiculous as having a shelter that's not stocked with proper supplies and equipment to keep you safe, warm and dry if you have to stay there for an extended period of time. Remember, storm shelters are not always just for those times when tornadoes strike and you can evacuate a half hour after the storm hits.

Many people need to evacuate to storm shelters during snow storms and wind storms (which can go on for hours or even days). And sometimes the trusty storm shelter is a great place to be when you have nowhere else to go, for example if your house accidentally burns down or is damaged in an earthquake.

Build Sturdy Shelving or Cabinets and Stock Your Shelter with Items that Have Long Shelf Lives

To help eliminate confusion and make sure you've got your list of items organized right, storm shelters should first be stocked with everything and anything you need that does not have "an expiration date." This means non-perishable things go in first. Your tool kit with hand tools, large tools such as axes and shovels, heaters, fans, crank-powered radios, clothes and other similar items should be stored first.

If necessary, they should be stored in containers that are completely water and moisture proof. Make sure your radios are the type that are crank powered and don't need batteries. Even the highest quality batteries wear out relatively fast and can leak dangerous chemicals if left too long. You definitely don't want to evacuate to your shelter and find out at the last minute that your radio (which may be your only lifeline to the outside world) doesn't work because you either forgot batteries or the ones you stored are dead.


And remember to use butane heaters and cooking stoves in storm shelters and not propane equipment. Propane fumes can kill very quickly in small, enclosed spaces. Butane is quite safe in confined spaces. Butane stoves and heaters can even be used in camping tents. It's the same fuel used in disposable lighters.

Stocking Storm Shelters with Items That Have Expiration Dates Requires Maintenance

Make an exhaustive list of all the other things you'll need in your shelter, including everything that has a shelf life or expiration date. This should not be limited to food items. This includes things like first aid kits and cleaning supplies.

If you do have to store batteries in your shelter, they need to be maintained because as mentioned before, they can leak dangerous chemicals over time. And don't forget any medication you may have stored. Medications of all kinds have a shelf life and while people sometimes don't realize it, even things like over the counter pain relievers can not only be ineffective beyond their expiration date, they can be poisonous.

The best way to counter the threat of forgetting what items expire when is to make a list of what you're stocking while you're doing it and note on your list when each and every item's expiration date is. If an item or a set of items does not have a printed expiration date on it, check on the internet and find out what its shelf life is.

Properly stocked storm shelters should have their inventory checked (by following the expiration date list) on a regular basis, probably at least every 3 months or so. It's tempting to find a million and one reasons to "do it later" because you're busy but remember everything in your shelter is there to save your life and possibly deal with injury during a disaster.

If the day comes when you have to evacuate to your shelter and you find out what you need is no longer usable, you'll regret putting it off before when you could have re-stocked or replenished your supplies.


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