Tips for choosing the right installer for your storm shelter in NWA

With tornado season just around the corner in Northwest Arkansas, we decided to put some tips together to help you decide how to choose not only the right shelter but also the right installer that fits both your budget and your family’s needs!

1)  What are your needs?

  • How many people are you trying to protect?
  • Can those in your group get up and down stairs or do they have physical limitations? (Those limitations can include claustrophobia.)
  • Do you want to be above ground or below ground?
  • Where do you live? What’s the soil like (wet or dry; rock, clay, sand, snow, or ice)? Are you in a flood zone?
  • Do you want to put a shelter in at the time of building a house or during a renovation?
  • Do you have a garage? If so, does it have a concrete floor?
  • Do you have a yard? If so, can heavy equipment get in and out?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can narrow down the type of shelter you’ll be shopping for.

2) Checklist for Finding a Shelter

  • We prefer that manufacturers, dealers, and installers be members of the NSSA (National Storm Shelter Association). This association promotes the production, manufacturing, and installation of high-quality storm shelters and meets federal, state, and local regulation requirements as well as governing standards and code mandates.
  • We recommend buying directly from NSSA dealers and manufacturers who know the business, adhere to their strict guidelines, and pay close attention to trend and code changes.
  • We advise avoiding dealers who are selling through third parties. They pay someone else to market their products. This means you’re buying from someone who is not only unqualified to sell storm shelters but is also more interested in meeting their financial needs by volume sales rather than meeting your personal and safety needs.
  • Make sure the shelter is FEMA compliant. Simply ask for the stamped, engineered, and current paperwork.
  • Make sure the company is licensed and has liability insurance. If the shelter installers have an accident on your property, you’re liable.

3) When pricing a shelter, try to remember you’re not just paying for a shelter; you’re paying for the complete installation.

  • We’re often told by customers that they are price shopping. This is good and understandable in our present economic climate, but we advise you to consider what you’re buying. It’s very easy to be deceived by internet pictures. An example of this is a less expensive shelter that has a low ceiling, extremely steep steps, or poor ventilation. Because a shelter is a lifelong investment that saves lives, it’s very important to feel confident that your shelter will be safe and comfortable.
  • What kind of installation will you be getting?
  • Will they clean up the excavation site and respect your personal property?
  • Will they pack and groom?
  • Will the shelter be level and anchored properly?
  • Will the installers take the time to show you the proper care and use of the shelter?
  • Will they be there for you if you have any future questions or problems?
  • Get references!
  • Understand the warranties.

The strength of the warranty will depend on the strength of the company manufacturing the shelters. You want to buy your shelter from a company that is willing to stand behind its products above and beyond what the warranty states.

Shelter Etiquette: How to be a good shelter host or guest

Arkansans are known for being gracious hosts and good neighbors. Often this neighborliness extends to offering space in a backyard or garage storm shelter. Whether you’re allowing others into your home or accepting a neighbor’s hospitality, you should be careful. Opening up your shelter—or relying on someone else’s—can be tricky in several ways. Read on to learn how to be a good storm shelter host and a good guest in another person’s shelter.

HOW TO HOST GUESTS IN YOUR SHELTER

If you own a storm shelter and know a friend or neighbor who doesn’t, it’s only natural to offer them space in your shelter. However, this is not a gesture to be made lightly. Arkansas storms are deadly serious, so your offer could literally be a matter of life and death.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE OFFERING

The first thing to remember about offering space in your storm shelter is that people will take you up on it. If you tell someone to come to your house during a storm, don’t be surprised if they show up during a tornado watch. Making this offer is very gracious, but it also entails responsibility.

MAKE SURE YOU CAN HANDLE GUESTS

If you offer space in your shelter to others, make sure your shelter can actually handle the extra load. For instance, if you know the neighbors across the street have a large family and a couple of big dogs, don’t offer to let them into your 4×6 safe room. An overcrowded shelter can be a danger in and of itself.

HAVE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

Inviting guests into your storm shelter requires a certain amount of planning. Don’t expect your friends or family to know your storm plans without discussing them. You should at least go over

  • the amount of available space for your guests’ personal belongings
  • your pet policy
  • your guests’ arrival time before the storm
  • your plan for entering the shelter in the event of an imminent storm

The last thing you want is any sort of panic or conflict to occur between you and your guests. Planning ahead and setting clear rules can help ease any possible conflict before it starts.

STAY AWARE

Finally, if you do invite guests into your home or your shelter, it’s important to stay aware of the weather any time there is a possibility of a storm. This is good advice for everyone in Arkansas, but it’s especially important if you have other people relying on you.

HOW TO BE A GOOD SHELTER GUEST

Of course, not all of us will be hosting other people in our homes during a storm. In fact, many might end up seeking shelter rather than giving it. If you’re one of the many Arkansans who rely on a friend or family member for a storm shelter, you should know how to be a good shelter guest as well.

NEVER ASSUME A SHELTER IS OPEN

If you know your friend or neighbor has a shelter, never assume you’re welcome to use it. Always ask first and make plans long before storm season. Showing up at someone’s house during a storm isn’t just rude. It’s potentially life-threatening.

ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK BEFORE ARRIVING

When storms are brewing, it’s always a good idea to double check if you can use someone else’s shelter. This is true even if they invited you in the past. You can never be certain that their plan or their ability to host you hasn’t changed. For example, the neighbor who invited you to his shelter might be on vacation. They could also have family visiting who take priority over you. Always be sure to double check before arriving at someone else’s home.

DON’T EXTEND SOMEONE ELSE’S INVITATION

When someone offers you space in their shelter, don’t assume that invitation covers anyone beyond you and your immediate family. Unless the shelter’s owner specifies otherwise, the invitation does not include your house guests, visitors from out of town, or nearby family members. Showing up with extra people (or pets) is not just rude. It’s dangerous.

PACK LIGHT

The main limiting factor to storm shelter safety is space. Not only is it more difficult to enter a shelter that is packed with people, pets, and things, but it is also more uncomfortable due to the decrease in air circulation. This is why you should always pack light when visiting someone else’s storm shelter. Either don’t bring anything at all or only bring a small bag you can easily hold on your lap or under your feet. A backpack or large purse is fine, but a rolling luggage bag is not.

HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

In some cases, your neighbors won’t be able to take you into their shelter. If this happens to you, you shouldn’t be left in a lurch. Always have a backup plan you can follow if your main plan falls through. Even if it means sheltering in your own home, you should always know what else you can do to keep yourself safe.

Consider Buying a Shelter of Your Own

Let’s face it—relying on someone else to keep you and your family safe is never ideal. It’s best to have your own safe space to retreat to in the event of a severe storm. Storm shelters come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit any need, budget, and space. They also have many financing options from banks and credit unions. That means you won’t have any trouble keeping your finances safe either.
To learn more, contact us today at BBB Storm Shelters. We’re the top storm shelter builder in Arkansas, and we offer our customers the most important thing of all: peace of mind.

It’s Not Too Early!

Are tornadoes possible in the winter?

Spring is notorious for high volumes of tornadoes and severe weather across the United States. The fall and winter months have always had tornado activity, but many people still consider a tornado during these months an unlikely occurrence. Actually, tornadoes can occur at any time of the year. When warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico mixes with cooler air, conditions emerge that are conducive for tornadoes.
In January of 1999, the central U.S. suffered a major tornado outbreak numbering 129 tornadoes from Texas to Kentucky and the surrounding states. An outstanding 56 of those touched down in Arkansas alone with Mississippi being the second-largest-hit state with 27. Within these tornadoes, the strongest recorded was an F4 while more than 10 were rated as F3s.

In February 2008, we were hit again by an onslaught of tornadoes. A few days before Valentine’s Day, 86 tornadoes wreaked havoc across ten states. Tennessee was impacted by 25 tornadoes, 12 of which were in Arkansas. Even Christmas Day has proven to be an eventful day for a multi-state tornado outbreak. On December 25–26, 2012, a tornado outbreak occurred in the southern United States which affected much of the Gulf Coast. The National Weather Service reported 31 tornadoes, 30 of which occurred on Christmas Day.

Since 1950, there have been over 1,300 tornadoes recorded during December alone (see source below). By quick math, that equals over 20 tornadoes per year that happen across the United States during December. These tornadoes have caused over 150 deaths and nearly 3,000 injuries.
We urge everyone to refrain from taking this subject lightly. During these upcoming winter months, remember to restock your tornado shelter supplies. Run an emergency drill with your family to refresh everyone’s memory. By being proactive, you can alleviate much of the stress and worry during a storm. You cannot over-prepare for an emergency.

We have gone the extra mile to help you organize and plan for severe weather and emergency situations. March through May, the installation schedules for most storm shelter companies become overbooked. A person may have to wait for one to two months for a tornado shelter installation due to high demand. If a storm passes through before you have a chance to purchase a shelter, the turnaround time could double overnight. By acting now, you can ensure your family’s safety year-round.


For many, it is not a question of wanting the safety but affording it. We have lenders willing to speak with you about financing.

The Quarter in Your Freezer

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the eastern coastline. Citizens were bracing for what was being touted as a “once in a century storm.” As a result, preparation tips began circulating through social media feeds. One, in particular, that seemed to gain some traction was the idea of freezing a cup of water, placing a quarter on top of that frozen water, and placing it in your freezer.

Are you perplexed by this tip? If you didn’t read the follow-up explanations, this probably seemed like a far-fetched idea that was really just clickbait. Rather than being clickbait, however, the idea is pretty clever.

Here’s the idea. In a natural disaster like Hurricane Matthew, lots of people are displaced from their homes as they wait out the storm. During storms like this, there is a great likelihood that the power will be disrupted. Depending on how long your power is out, the food in your freezer could thaw out. Depending on how long you are displaced from your home, your food could refreeze when the power comes back on. This is the where the quarter and the ice come in. If the power goes out and causes your frozen foods to thaw, the frozen water will also thaw and the quarter will sink to the bottom. This can serve as a rudimentary test to see if your food has thawed out and been refrozen. It can also inform you as to whether or not you should throw out that food.

This tip can help you avoid spoiled foods masquerading as preserved food and give you the information you need when recovering from a storm.

Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business

This page contains information about FEMA P-320 – Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business.

Having a safe room in your home or small business can help provide near-absolute protection for you and your family or employees from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds. Near-absolute protection means that based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built according to the guidance in this publication will have a high probability of being protected from injury or death. Our knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes is based on numerous meteorological records as well as extensive investigations of damage to structures from extreme winds. Having a safe room can also relieve some of the anxiety created by the threat of an oncoming tornado or hurricane.

All information contained in this publication is applicable to residential safe rooms but may also be useful for safe rooms in small businesses. However, safe rooms in small businesses (or in residences with greater than 16 occupants) are considered community safe rooms. Therefore, they must be designed with additional architectural, fire safety, ventilation, and other requirements as described in FEMA P-361Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms and ICC 500, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.

Should you consider building a safe room in your home or small business to provide protection for you, your family, or employees during a tornado or hurricane? This publication will help you answer this and other questions so you can decide how best to provide that protection. It includes the results of research that has been underway for more than 30 years by Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute and other wind engineering research facilities on the effects of extreme winds on buildings. Download the entire FEMA P-320 document.

FEMA P-320 includes safe room designs and shows you and your builder/contractor or local design professional how to construct a safe room for your home or small business. Design options include safe rooms located inside or outside of a new home or small business. Guidance is also provided on how to modify an existing home or small business to add a safe room to an existing space. The safe rooms discussed in FEMA P-320 are designed to provide protection for you, your family, or employees from the extreme winds expected during tornadoes and hurricanes and from wind-borne debris associated with these events.

For more information on how BBB can build a storm shelter for your home or business, contact us here.

Every Business Should Have a Plan: Preparing Makes Good Business Sense

How quickly your company can get back to business after a terrorist attack, tornado, fire, or flood often depends on emergency planning done today. While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working hard to prevent terrorist attacks, the regular occurrence of natural disasters demonstrates the importance of being prepared for any emergency. While recognizing that each situation is unique, your organization can be better prepared if it plans carefully, puts emergency procedures in place, and practices for all kinds of emergencies.

This guide outlines commonsense measures that business owners and managers can take to start getting ready. A commitment to planning today will help support employees, customers, the community, the local economy, and even the country. It also protects your business investment and gives your company a better chance for survival. Every business should have a plan. Get ready now.

Plan to stay in business

Business continuity planning must account for both man-made and natural disasters. You should plan in advance to manage any emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation and use common sense and available resources to take care of yourself, your co-workers, and your business’s recovery.

Continuity Planning/Risk Assessment can be a sophisticated area of expertise that ranges from self-assessment to an extensive engineering study. Your organization’s risk needs will vary according to the specific industry, size, scope, and location of your individual company. Start by reviewing your business process flow chart (if one exists) to identify operations critical to survival and recovery. Carefully assess your internal and external functions to determine which staff, materials, procedures, and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating.

You should also establish procedures for succession of management. Include co-workers from all levels in this plan as active members of the emergency management team.

Make a list of your most important customers and proactively plan ways to serve them during and after a disaster. Also identify key suppliers, shippers, resources, and other businesses you must interact with on a daily basis. A disaster that shuts down a key supplier can be devastating to your business.

Plan what you will do if your building, plant, or store is not accessible. Talk with your staff or co-workers and frequently review and practice what you intend to do during and after an emergency.

Just as your business changes over time, so do your preparedness needs. Review and update your plans at least annually and inform your employees of the changes.

What to Look for if You’re Considering Buying a Storm Shelter

With deadly tornadoes in Texas and Arkansas and the official start to hurricane season, Arkansans are reminded of the devastation that we have seen in our state. More residents are looking to protect their families by purchasing storm shelters or adding building safe rooms attached to their homes. With a purchase of a product as important as a storm shelter, the consumer needs to do their homework.

Storm Shelter Buying Tips

Which is Better: Above-Ground or In-Ground?
When built properly, both perform well and can provide protection for you and your family. You may want to consider who will be using the shelter. Elderly people or people who have a difficult time moving may have trouble getting in or out of an in-ground shelter.  Also, keep in mind that if you choose to build an above-ground shelter, the door needs the proper wind rating to withstand a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado.

Make Sure Your Storm Shelter is Certified


The Wind Institute at Texas Tech not only tests and researches shelters but also certifies them. A certified shelter is tested to make sure it meets the standards to survive a direct hit from a tornado. Patrick Allen, owner of Storm Ready Shelters in Meridian says, “People are buying storm shelters or putting doors on safe rooms that haven’t been properly tested.” “There are people that have a business and then decide to sell storm shelters or build safe rooms on the side,” Allen said, adding, “They don’t have any licensing requirements or have any testing done before they sell storm shelters.”

Is There a Difference Between a Shelter in Your House and One in Your Backyard?


The Texas Tech researchers say both safe rooms and shelters in your house are just as safe as a cellar or in-ground shelter in your backyard. However, they say inside is better. They say a cellar will keep you safe during a tornado, but research shows people put off taking shelter longer—sometimes even until the last minute—if they have to go outside. That delay can put you and your family at risk while trying to get to your shelter.

For a FREE Inspection of your property to determine the best shelter for you, please contact us at 479-225-9800

3 Tips for Creating a Home Safe Room

A safe room in your home doesn’t need to be a high-tech, fortified space like in the movies, but it must be secure. Safe rooms are meant to be security spaces against storms, burglaries, and any other type of emergency situation.

These spaces need to be resilient and stocked with survival provisions and emergency response items that you would need in a dire situation. In concept, these rooms should be “go to” places when things go wrong.

The location of these rooms can vary and the interior does not need to resemble the set of the film Panic Room; however, if you are building the room from scratch, you can decide on the exact degree of fortification. If you are adapting an existing space, consider the structural makeup of the room to determine suitability as a safe room. Here are some useful tips for creating a home safe room.

IDENTIFY A SUITABLE LOCATION

The first part of allocating a space for a safe room is determining which space is most suitable for the job. If you are building from the ground up, locate an appropriate area and calculate the amount of room you will need or have to work with as well as materials for the job. If you are repurposing an existing space, make sure the area is suitable in square footage and resistance potential. Basements and garages are both good options for safe rooms since both can offer good protection against storms and are structurally resistant in design; however, flooding can be problematic for rooms in basements. Consider the location of both your home and the prospective safe room carefully.

STRUCTURALLY PREPARE THE SPACE

The effectiveness of a safe room comes down to the structure of the space and the materials used to secure it. Concrete walls, heavy wood doors, steel sheathing, reinforced door frames, and Plexiglas windows are all reliable materials to use in a safe room though windows may be best avoided. The aim of a well-constructed safe room is to keep debris out, prevent structural damage, and reduce the likelihood of forced entry. Selecting the right materials for the room is the first part of properly securing the space and actually making it into a “safe” room.

ADD FEATURES AND PROVISIONS

Once the safe room is constructed and in fortified condition, you can add security features and begin stocking the space with emergency provisions. Ventilation systems to filter air are good additions especially for relief during storms. Keypads and security monitors wired to cameras in your home can also be useful features. A keypad lock will ensure that you don’t have to fumble with deadbolts and will allow your room to function as a vault as well if you intend to store sensitive or valuable items inside.

Stock emergency provisions for at least three to five days in the safe room. Your supply list should include non-perishable food essentials, water, first aid supplies, and other miscellaneous supplies such as copies of important documents, radios, cell phone chargers, flashlights, batteries, lanterns, cash, sanitation supplies, blankets, sleeping bags, weapons, and any other supplies you need. Check your provisions every three to six months and rotate food items before expiration. For any perishable items, check them on a more regular basis and replace them.

Contact us today for a free inspection to determine if your home is right for a safe room and to provide safe alternatives.  479-225-9800