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Old 09-08-2013, 09:15 PM   #1
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Hello From East Alabama


Hi Folks: My wife and I are in the process of building a tiny 6' by 6' inside dimensions "tornado shelter" that just needs to be big enough for she and I to get into during our numerous tornadoes we seem to have every year, and I ran across this forum in searching for help on the shelter. The site seems to be a LOT of help on a LOT of subjects, so I'm glad I found it. Anyway, I'm just enjoying reading through posts that are of interest to me, and they seem to be endless. (And helpful, as we have always had to do our own DIY, as being a disabled Vet, I never seem to have the money to hire ppl to do the things we need to have done, and this seems to be a one stop, super shop for learning just about anything about DIY that a person could learn. Thanks for letting me join the group and cannot wait to learn new things each and every day. Chuck

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Old 09-08-2013, 10:28 PM   #2
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Hello From East Alabama


Welcome to the site Chuck and thanks for your service.

Folks here will definitely help you out with your questions.

Good luck with your tornado room build. We live in hurricane country and thought about doing the same in our house.

Robyn

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Old 09-09-2013, 01:01 AM   #3
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Hello From East Alabama


Robyn: Thanks a lot. The site seems to have more info than any other one of it;s kind I have ever found, and the ppl all seem to be very friendly and helpful. I have had enough of storms. I got out of the Air Force when I was stationed in the FL Panhandle, met my wife there, and stayed on for nearly 20 years before moving back to "Sweet Home Alabama" LOL. And being in the Panhandle, we had both hurricanes and tornadoes down there. The last one, the one that made our decision to move, was in 1995 called hurricane Opal. We got ourselves and or three kids at the time and just covered up with mattresses, and hung on for dear life as the winds stayed at about 115 mph for over 8 HOURS.

We lost power for eight days, and it was in Sept, which is still steamy in FL. Got back to Alabama and had forgotten that the tornadoes, if you take a direct hit, are as bad as, if not worst than hurricanes. So, after last years DOZENS of tornadoes that were "too close for comfort", we decided to build our own little shelter. I have to go slow, and get my boys to help with the digging, but hope to have it completed by the time next Spring's tornado season gets here. I think all the blood, sweat, and tears will be well worth it in the long run. IF I can figure out the best way to put a concrete roof on it that is going to STAY on it LOL... I'll probably just go overkill on the rebar and steel mesh framework, and then do overkill on the 2 by 4's and 3/4" pressure treated plywood to "form" the ceiling.roof, then pour the concrete to it and hope for the best. Thanks again, Chuck
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Old 09-09-2013, 07:53 AM   #4
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Hello From East Alabama


Chuck -

As reference for what is needed, go the FEMA site and look for the "safe cell" for tornado protection. It is not a code requirement, but the best way to provide life safety.

It is based on what works for the safety of people from the number ONE cause of tornado deaths - PROJECTILES and not just wind. You will see everything is based on reinforced concrete and reinforced concrete block. Usually 8" thick and reinforced because wider spacing since real testing of walls have shown that the projectile standard used is a 12' long 2x4 shot out of an air cannon at 145 mph with no penetration. The only possible way of using wood was found to be (after years of testing) was 2- 3/4" sheets of plywood laminated over a steel plate and studes 12" on center.

The site gives good guidelines for small shelters buried and above ground or inside of homes. The best part is the suggestions for ventilation, hardware and layout. If you are looking at 6x6 that might be a little small since the door should open inward to prevent debris from trapping people inside for many days.

Take a look at the suggestions and alter them to your own situation. Keep in mind that tornadoes are far more dangerous and damaging than hurricanes, that are more predictable and passive with winds that decrease one on shore. Tornadoes can drop down and skip quickly and have much higher winds and are very unpredictable.

Good luck!

Dick
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:06 PM   #5
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Hello From East Alabama


Dick: Thanks a lot. I have done some reading on the FEMA site, and any other site I can find, which is why I decided to NOT go with, say, 4" blocks, or 6", or bricks etc, but rather 8" blocks that will be filled with concrete, and a piece of rebar that will be sank into the footer. And those videos of those 2" by 4" are a scary site for sure. When I was a kid, (bout 40+ years ago now) We had a tornado come through our neighborhood and thank God nobody was killed, but after it was over, I went with Daddy and some of the other neighbors when they were looking for anybody who was not accounted for, and we saw pine NEEDLES sticking out of pine trees.

I though, (years later when I was able to understand all that stuff) "If one of those pine needles hit me, say, in the speen, liver, kidneys, between my ribs and into my heart etc, I could have bled to death from what SEEMED to be a "harmless" pine needle.

I have been wondering about that thing about which way the door should swing. We have some trees that are up to 80ft tall not too far from where the shelter would be, and I always thought the door should swing to the INSIDE, then put about THREE good deadbolts inside there. Because if one of those trees blocked the door, like you said, unless my daughter, son in law, cousin etc etc that live close by knew we would be in there and dig us out before the water etc ran out. BUT, it seems that out of the DOZENS of you tube videos and other sites on search engines, it seems that those ppl ALWAYS make the door to swing to the OUTSIDE. I think I agree with you and that is would be safer overall if it swung to the INSIDE. But to do that, I may have to change the flor plan from 6' by 6' to 6' by 8 or 9', as I have a 36 inch steel door (that will also have 3/4" plywood on both sides of it, but anyway, I'm 55 years old, and my wife has one artificial knee and needs her other one done, so I have to build this thing with the future (and the chance that one or both of us might be in a wheelchair down the road, so the door can't be 24" or so like many of them are.

Again, Thanks for the help and I'll go back to those Govt sites and re-read all I can on the subject. On the danger, I totally agree with you about tornadoes being more dangerous. They are MUCH smaller, so the chance of being hit are farr more than being hot dead on by a hurricane, but I have been fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico, right about 5 miles offshore from Destin/Ft/ Walton Bch FL, and I saw waterspouts, which is a tornado that is just over water vs over land, and I saw them come down, hit, go a few hundred yards I guess, pull back up into the storm, only to drop out again, or another one form in that same storm cell. Thanks again. Chuck
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:34 PM   #6
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Hello From East Alabama


Hi Chuck,

Some years ago I was out at T-Clear Corporation (A division of Fin-Pan) as my partner and I were the QC reps a roofing product called Lightguard. They were developing a wall panel which was a composite consisting of 3 inches of Styrofoam with both sides covered with a latex concrete scrim reinforced surfacing. They had one of those 2 x 4, 145 MPH air guns and shot an 8 footer at the panel. The 2 x 4 dented the panel, but it did not even think about going through. I was impressed. Take a look at their site just for the heck of it.

As far as what you are building, 6 x 6 feet is far too small IMO. As far as the ceiling goes, deep well corrugated Galvanized Steel would be my choice to form the roof. Go to United Steel Deck and take a look

I am an AF Vet too. Vietnam, 66-67 Takhli Thailand 355 TFW, Thuds.
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:13 PM   #7
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Hello From East Alabama


Jangans: Thanks for the info. I'll check out that site for sure. And your right. They are doing all kinds of things with rigid foams. I saw a DIY show on my nearest Public TV chanell a while back, and they were building the walls at a factory, just by using a type of "post and beam" with about 6 inches of rigid foam between those post and beam frames and the foam served as the wall itself. They'd finish it by either painting it, bricking the outside of it, stucco etc. And they were talking about how strong it was. It was a pretty impressive show.

On my shelter only being 6' by 6', #1, that's all I can afford, and #2, it's just going to be my wife and myself, so I think we'll have plenty of room, because HOPEFULLY we won't be in there for more than an hour, two on the TOP end.

I missed Vietnam by being too young by just a year or so, and I joined on July 19,1975. I hate that war because the Agent Orange cost me my best friend ever, and my Father in Law as well, not counting the Vets that I have seen at the clinics and/or hospitals over the years. I spent most of my time in the 33TFW. They told us we were the "#1 Combat readiness group in the AF" and if the number of hours had anything to do with that, I sure believe them LOL.. Chuck
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:06 PM   #8
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Hello From East Alabama


Two of you will do just fine in a 6x6, with an inward opening door. One problem is that a good shelter attracts a lot of new "friends" if a tornado is possibly near.

The problem is to prevent debris prevent from blocking an outward swing door and hope a car does not land on a wrinkled tin roof.

I have seen many of the tests with the air canon shooting 2x4s and always thought that is why some people that did the testing would actually for the enjoyable work for nothing. - I am not minimizing what a tornado can do. Just a mile north of me several kids were killed after being sucked out of the back of 30' deep(length) walk out basement and were drowned in a pond 100' away. - They are really nasty and mean, but fun to watch from the deck as they pass by, but we had a good shelter in the basement that we could get into in 15 to 30 seconds.

In many new homes in OK and KS, many new homes have FEMA type concrete "safe cells" that are used daily as large walk-in closets in slab on grade homes.

Dick

Last edited by concretemasonry; 09-09-2013 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:48 AM   #9
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Hello From East Alabama


Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck1010101 View Post
Jangans: Thanks for the info. I'll check out that site for sure. And your right. They are doing all kinds of things with rigid foams. I saw a DIY show on my nearest Public TV chanell a while back, and they were building the walls at a factory, just by using a type of "post and beam" with about 6 inches of rigid foam between those post and beam frames and the foam served as the wall itself. They'd finish it by either painting it, bricking the outside of it, stucco etc. And they were talking about how strong it was. It was a pretty impressive show.

On my shelter only being 6' by 6', #1, that's all I can afford, and #2, it's just going to be my wife and myself, so I think we'll have plenty of room, because HOPEFULLY we won't be in there for more than an hour, two on the TOP end.

I missed Vietnam by being too young by just a year or so, and I joined on July 19,1975. I hate that war because the Agent Orange cost me my best friend ever, and my Father in Law as well, not counting the Vets that I have seen at the clinics and/or hospitals over the years. I spent most of my time in the 33TFW. They told us we were the "#1 Combat readiness group in the AF" and if the number of hours had anything to do with that, I sure believe them LOL.. Chuck
Hi Chuck,

Yeah, I lost one of my best friend to Agent Orange too just a few years back. We were frinds since about 12 years old. He was a Marine. Survived an ambush where he was the only survivor. He kept his helmet with a big dent in it where a piece of schrapnel dented it and blew him into a ditch. AO got him anyway in the end. That damn war gets everybody eventually

RE the corrugated metal, note I said FORM for structural Concrete, of course.
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:57 AM   #10
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Hello From East Alabama


Hey Joy: Welcome to the group. I'm new as well, but I already see that everybody in the group has been VERY helpful and VERY nice. Chuck
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:33 PM   #11
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Hello From East Alabama


Welcome chuck in this forum.
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:47 PM   #12
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Hello From East Alabama


Joy - Welcome to the forum!!!

My first wife of 25 yeas was Joy1 or Gramma Joy.

My second wife of 23 years (so far) was Joy2 or JoyJoy.

They are great friends and the grandchildren are finally understanding after years of family holidays.

Dick

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