FAQs About Disaster Shelters

Are we all going to fit inside?

Gather ’round, everyone! It’s time for us to tell you some tales from our great big book of FAQs About Disaster Shelters.

1. Can disaster shelters be customized to meet specific needs?

Yes, disaster shelters can indeed be customized to meet specific needs. 

You can do this by tailoring the design and operation factors to meet the needs of the population it is going to serve. Another way to say that is: You can commission your own custom disaster shelter.

For example, provisions can be made to add accessible facilities for people with disabilities, separate areas for families with children, and the inclusion of medical facilities for those with specific health needs.

It will almost certainly be a more expensive option, but if you have needs that aren’t met by off-the-rack disaster shelters, custom builds are out there.

A flexible and adaptable disaster shelter that is customized can be more effective in providing a safe haven during times of crisis. It’s a great place to keep a small Stay Bag to make sure all of your needs are covered.

2. How often should I perform maintenance on my disaster shelter?

TLDR: Twice a year.

The longer story is that the recommended frequency of maintenance for a disaster shelter varies on various factors. These include:

  • The type of shelter,
  • The construction material used, and
  • The environmental conditions. 

Generally, it is advised to perform routine inspections and maintenance at least twice a year. Especially before severe weather seasons. 

If you are in an area with harsh weather, more frequent inspections may be required. Has a flood affected your disaster shelter? Time to give it the once-over.

Most importantly, anytime you use your disaster shelter for its intended purpose (to take shelter during a disaster), it is essential to check its condition afterward to detect any damage or wear that may require repair or replacement.

I’m not panicking. You’re panicking.

3. Can I use my disaster shelter as a panic room?

Let’s be real: any room can become a panic room, if you’re panicking hard enough.

But seriously, disaster shelters and panic rooms are not the same. The two serve very different purposes. 

Panic rooms are fortified to resist intentional break-ins. On the other hand, disaster shelters are designed to withstand natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. 

While panic rooms also have features such as reinforced walls and doors, ventilation systems, and communication equipment, those are usually not found in disaster shelters. 

Thus, to ensure personal safety, it is recommended to install both a dedicated panic room and a disaster shelter in your home. Go on, live a little!

4. What kind of warranty should I look for when purchasing a disaster shelter?

Just like when you make any other sizable investment, it is important to look for a warranty while buying disaster shelters. You should look for a warranty that covers structural, manufacturing, and material defects. 

It should offer coverage for a reasonable period, i.e. ten years or more. Also, it should cover repair or replacement costs if defects occur. 

Review the warranty’s terms and conditions to confirm that it covers the specific type of disaster shelter you are purchasing and meets your needs. Hopefully, you won’t be hounded by call centers who have been trying to reach you about your disaster shelter’s extended warranty.

They just want to talk.

5. How long can I expect my disaster shelter to last?

For your sake, we hope your disaster shelter stays pristine and completely unused. That said, even if you escape the wrath of the weather, everything must return to the earth eventually.

Generally, disaster shelters built using durable materials can last for many years, possibly even several decades.

However, the lifespan of your disaster shelter depends on several factors, such as:

  • The construction materials used,
  • The shelter’s location, and 
  • Exposure to weather conditions. 

You can further extend the lifespan of your disaster shelter by carrying out routine maintenance and inspections.

Rule of Thumb

Remember that warranty? That’ll help, too!

6. Are there any special permits or zoning requirements for installing a disaster shelter on my property?

An astute and very important question, dear reader! In a word, probably.

Special permits and zoning requirements are often required for installing a disaster shelter on your property. The specific requirements vary depending on your location and the type of shelter you plan to install. 

It is essential to check with your local building department or zoning board for specific requirements. Do this before buying your disaster shelter to avoid any mishaps related to maximum allowable dimensions or other limitations.

If this FAQ hasn’t satisfied your thirst for knowledge, our disaster shelter buying guide has more answers, as well. We told you we had a whole book’s worth of FAQs about disaster shelters! We’d never lie to you, dearest ones.

Now get out there, and enjoy those terrifying storms!

About the Author

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.