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
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
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
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
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.