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Tornado Alley Armor Safe Rooms AwesomeBlog!

Your Comprehensive Guide to Severe Weather Protection! Safe Rooms, Tornado Storm Shelters, FEMA Standards & Grant Programs, National Storm Shelter Association News, Site Selection, Installation Guides, Tips from the Pros....and more!

What is Tornado Alley? Tornado Alley interesting facts

Tornado Alley is an area of the United States that is prone to experience tornadoes. Tornado Alley is also the name we at Tornado Alley Armor get called by quote often. Because our name is so long a lot of the time people leave off the word "Armor" and simply call us "Tornado Alley." Just be sure you are talking to who you think you are talking to when you make that phone call. We get called "Tornado Alley" so often that we decided you shouldn't need to add the word "Armor" when you type in our website address. You can now get to our website by typing either www.tornadoalley.com or www.tornadoalleyarmor.com. There are several other storm shelter companies out there going by Tornado Alley ... and they aren't even members in the National Storm Shelter Association. Basically, that means they aren't truly FEMA Compliant because if they were they would be allowed to join the NSSA. Be careful and make sure you are dealing directly with us and not some guy making storm shelters in his back yard with no regard for your safety.  Call 855-552-7667 (855-55-ARMOR) to speak with us directly. Or start with our home page www.tornadoalleyarmor.com.        
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How are tornadoes rated? What does EF-5 mean?

Tornadoes are rated by the amount of damage they cause. Because it is practically impossible to accurately measure a tornado by wind speeds, Dr. T. Theodore Fujita developed the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale (F-Scale.) This scale provides an estimate of the wind speeds based on the amount of damage present.  The new Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF-Scale) is more advanced than the original scale and focuses more on the damage done to different structures. For example, a tornado that can flatten an entire house would be stronger than a tornado that can flatten a mobile home. This new scale helps distinguish the damage and identifies “28 different free standing structures most affected by tornadoes, taking into account construction quality and maintenance.” The EF scale was put in effect on February 1, 2007. The range of intensity remains consistent with the original Fujita Scale: zero to five, and EF-0 being the weakest, with minimal damage and an EF-5 being the strongest, with complete destruction. Fortunately, here at Tornado Alley Armor, our storm shelters are 100% FEMA compliant, as well as verified by the NSSA (National Storm Shelter Association) to withstand an EF-5. The Storm Prediction Center has a brief description of the Enhanced Fujita Scale. EF-Scale: Old F-Scale: Typical Damage: EF-0 (65-85 mph) F0 (65-73 mph) Light damage. Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over. EF-1 (86-110 mph) F1 (73-112 mph) Moderate damage. Roofs severely stripped; mobile homes overturned or badly damaged; loss of exterior doors; windows and other glass broken. EF-2(111-135 mph) F2 (113-157 mph) Considerable damage. Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground. EF-3 (136-165 mph) F3 (158-206 mph) Severe damage....
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Trying to compare the difference between the NSSA certification Tornado Alley Armor Safe Rooms has and the ATSA certification seen on other tornado shelters and storm shelters?

 I'm trying to compare the difference between the NSSA - National Storm Shelter Association- certification you have and the ATSA - American Tornado Shelter Association- certification I have seen on other safe rooms. Can you explain the differences? The National Storm Shelter Association's Executive Director is Dr. Ernst Kiesling P.E., Ph.D, from Texas Tech University's Wind Science and Engineering Research Center. Dr. Kiesling is recognized as one of the premiere authorities in the world on wind energy research and safe room design protocols. Ernie and his staff at TTU worked extensively with FEMA in the late 90's to develop what is now FEMA's Publication 320, 360 & 361 guidelines for small group and community safe rooms for tornadoes, as well as hurricane shelters. Dr. Kiesling does not own an interest in any storm shelter company. His primary concern is for public safety and integrity in the storm shelter industry. As we understand it, there is no one associated with the ATSA executive committee who has anywhere near the reputation, professional training, knowledge or experience of Dr. Kiesling when it comes to wind energy and shelter design. The ATSA was formed primarily due to a new FEMA requirement for rebate participation. The new requirement was put in place due the large number of sub-standard manufacturers that were jumping into the business every time a major tornadic event would occur. They would start up a business, crank out storm shelters with little regard for FEMA's design recommendations and prey on the general lack of public knowledge of their design compliance.  FEMA's new requirement was intended to protect the public by mandating that for any purchaser to be eligible for a FEMA rebate reimbursement, the manufacturer of that shelter had to be a member of a professional association. The NSSA was the only association at the time,...
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If there's a tornado, why won't the tornado shelter blow away in the wind just like my house which is sitting on a concrete slab?

Q: How is it that a house will be ripped off the concrete slab foundation but a tornado shelter won't? A: Houses lift off their slabs because they’re made of wood & brick and anchored every 4 feet or so. They are not designed to withstand EF-5 250 mpg winds like a safe room. Tornado Alley Armor Safe Rooms are made of tempered steel and anchored no more than every 10” around the entire perimeter. The slabs always stay behind because they have enough mass and a low profile, and a safe room is engineered with enough anchors to provide hold down and shear resistance that is orders of magnitude greater than maximum EF5 forces. There is a mountain of evidence online documenting the level of safety of above ground safe rooms, and verifying they are just as safe as anything below ground. If a safe room is built by a National Storm Shelter Association Producer Member, all aspects of the design, construction, documentation, installation and quality control measures have been independently verified to meet or exceed FEMA, ICC-500 and NSSA design recommendations. Other associations or non-associated producers don’t offer that level of compliance verification. Thanks for your question!
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Guest — Kangdae Seo
Reading your blog is just enlightening. I had no idea that there is so much documentation about the safety levels of "above ground
Sunday, 19 October 2014 2:02 AM
Guest — Beachgirl
I am interested in a tornado shelter and live in Minnesota. Which is safest? One of my grand daughters was at her other grandmothe
Friday, 17 March 2017 1:01 AM
Leslie
All Tornado Alley Armor safe rooms are built to the same NSSA standards and are capable of withstanding EF-5 tornadoes. You might
Friday, 17 March 2017 8:08 PM
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About the Tornado Shelter Door- a FEMA 320 Compliant EF-5 rated above ground tornado shelter door by Tornado Alley Armor Safe Rooms

Our Tornado Shelter Doors are constructed in accordance with FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency's) guidelines and ICC-500 (the International Code Council's) standard for tornado shelter doors. This design is based on extensive research, testing, engineering calculations, and scientific evidence on the cause and effects of windstorm damage to buildings. When combined with a Tornado Alley Armor storm shelter that also adheres to FEMA guidelines and ICC standards, a Tornado Alley Armor Door will provide  EF-5 protection during extreme windstorms and tornadoes. Testing on Tornado Alley Armor’s tornado shelter door and safe room was performed at Texas Tech University's Wind Science and Engineering Research Center. Texas Tech is the foremost authority in wind research and co-authored FEMA's "Taking Shelter from the Storm", a publication outlining design specifications for safe rooms. Tornado Alley Armor passed with flying colors and even took more hits against our storm shelter than was required. For more information on residential safe room designs and construction, you can refer to FEMA's publication on their website.   Questions? Give us a call toll free at 855-55-ARMOR or find more information on our website www.tornadoalleyarmor.com
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Tornado Shelter Doors- should they swing in or should storm shelter doors swing out?

Question: Does it matter whether an above ground tornado shelter door swings inward or outward? Answer: With virtually every other tornado shelter door on the market, the door swings inward. In theory it’s supposed to make it more difficult to have your egress blocked. But…that’s one, and only one door meaning one way in and one way out. If a car or wall or debris comes to rest against the door opening it doesn’t matter which way it swings…you’re still trapped inside. Our door swings outward, which means full contact door-to-frame protection around the entire door perimeter when debris missiles impact the door. An inward swinging door is only as strong as the hinge and latch points holding it to the frame and they must absorb the entire impact. I’ll take full perimeter impact protection any day over hinges and bolts only.With a Tornado Alley Armor storm shelter you have as many options for escape as you do panels. For instance, our model 10030 has 8 panels and 1 door, giving you 9 potential escape routes. All you need to do is keep a couple of 9/16” end wrenches inside (which we provide, by the way, zip tied neatly up high where little ones can’t reach them) and if the door gets blocked, you just pick any panel and it’s as simple as unbolting a few bolts to free yourself in a matter of minutes. It is absolutely entrapment proof! You can totally disassemble the entire safe room from the inside. No other safe room offers that kind of fool proof escape system.Our latch mechanism is also designed such that it is impossible to get locked in by someone from the outside…intentionally or otherwise. Our interior latch mechanism works completely independent from the outside handle, so even if the outside handle is totally immobilized you...
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FEMA doesn't "certify" safe rooms, storm shelters, or tornado shelters. Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Just because you read something on the internet that doesn't mean it's true. Many unscrupulous storm shelter companies try to "pull the wool over our eyes" by making false claims that are sometimes simply outright lies. Take this sign for example. This company is claiming to be "FEMA Certified". FEMA does NOT certify and even says so on their website. You don't have to take my word for it, you can go to: http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1454-20490-4250/fema320_sec3.pdf and read for yourself... "While this guide presents FEMA’s guidance on the design and construction of residential safe rooms, FEMA does not test or certify materials or systems ... " Clearly this is a good example of always doing your homework and not always believing everything you read on the internet. Another storm shelter company is misleading the public by trying to make us believe that they are the ONLY safe rooms that meet FEMA standards. Simply not true. Any safe room built to FEMA specs will provide "Near Absolute Protection."   Here's where you can read for yourself: http://www.fema.gov/safe-room-resources/fema-p-320-taking-shelter-storm-building-safe-room-your-home-or-small-business#shelter.   We don't expect you to automatically believe everything you read on our website, but we do tell the truth and we absolutely will not try to mislead you. Do your homework, research what you read and ask questions. We're always happy to answer questions and give guidance for fact checking. Our toll free number is 855-55-ARMOR. Thank you, Leslie McGee CEO Tornado Alley Armor Safe Rooms  
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Guest — Larry Hall
Talked to Leslie last Wednesday and ordered my shelter. I ordered it with the 5-7 day time frame. Hopefully it will be installed b
Saturday, 03 May 2014 10:10 PM
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If Tornado Shelters are Debris Impact Tested at Texas Tech are those Storm Shelters FEMA Certified?


If safe rooms are Impact Tested at Texas Tech does that automatically make them FEMA 320 Compliant? We attended a Home and Garden Show recently and had some customers ask us about FEMA compliance for storm shelters and impact testing at Texas Tech University. Apparently there are storm shelter companies that are misleading customers into believing that passing debris impact testing at Texas Tech National Wind Institute (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/nwi/) is equivalent to being FEMA 320 (http://www.fema.gov/safe-room-resources/fema-p-320-taking-shelter-storm-building-safe-room-your-home-or-small-business) compliant. This is grossly incorrect and the companies that are telling customers this are aware they are incorrect. At Tornado Alley Armor we try to educate consumers on the fact that the storm shelter industry is unregulated and there are lots of tornado shelter companies out there misinforming them on the facts. Passing debris impact testing at Texas Tech is the first step in gaining membership in the voluntary self-policing National Storm Shelter Association. At Texas Tech they do not check for FEMA compliance. They only test ability to take EF-5 strength impacts without failure. This is no small feat, and very important to have done. If a safe room can’t handle the EF-5 impacts during testing then it absolutely is not FEMA compliant. At every trade show you'll find non-NSSA manufactures who tout FEMA 320 compliance yet it is immediately clear by any number of visual indicators that they are not, in fact, compliant...things as simple as counting the number of hinges and latch points, or checking the anchor spacing just to name a few items. But, being able to claim successful impact testing at Texas Tech does NOT make a storm shelter FEMA compliant. So let the buyer beware! Look for the NSSA logo.   The NSSA's Executive Director is Dr. Ernst Kiesling P.E., Ph.D, from Texas Tech University's National Wind Institute. Dr. Kiesling...
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Looking for a FEMA Certified Tornado Shelter? How about a Safe Room that's Approved by FEMA?

You may have had someone from a tornado shelter company tell you that their tornado shelters are "FEMA Certified." Beware of any company that tries to tell you their storm shelters are "Approved by FEMA" because FEMA does not verify or certify design calculations for any safe rooms, storm shelters, or tornado shelters. Federal policy does not allow Federal agencies to endorse, approve, certify, or recommend any contractors, individuals, or firms. Any companies who state they are "FEMA approved" or "FEMA certified" are incorrect.  Because of the safe room industry being unregulated this is just one more reason why you can’t automatically trust what someone might tell you. Do your homework, comparison shop, and then make the best decision for your family based on facts and not sales pitches which may or may not be given honestly. Tornado Alley Armor follows all FEMA guidelines with 100% compliance and voluntarily meets and/or exceeds FEMA P-320 design criteria. You don’t have to take our word for it. Check for yourself with the National Storm Shelter Association. In order for us to gain membership we had to have all of our design criteria independently verified. While FEMA and other organizations offer recommendations for safe room designs and installation, manufacturers are not required by law to adhere to them. This is why it is so important to only consider safe rooms that are manufactured by Producer Members in the NSSA. For more info on the NSSA please click here: http://www.tornadoalleyarmor.com/component/content/article/54/175-nation-storm-shelter-association-membership
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Guest — Martin
This really IS an Awesome Blog. I had no idea that FEMA doesn't certify. Thanks!
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 2:02 AM
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Want your storm shelter in a closet? Tornado Alley Armor safe rooms can be installed in walk-in or standard closets.

    Tornado Alley Armor safe rooms can be installed in a walk-in closet, pantry, bedroom, storage room, etc. We have showrooms in both Dallas Texas and Tulsa Oklahoma. You can see them in person! Our bolt together design allows the panels and other components to be carried in one at a time and assembled inside a closet or any other room in your home. Your home must be on a reinforced slab foundation, or we can pour a slab where you want it to be installed if you don’t already have one. Keep in mind that you won’t lose any usable space because the safe room will be able to accommodate shelves and even a hanging rod to still be able to hang clothes in like any other closet. Some of our customers hang clothes rods inside and use the storm shelter for a closet; some put shelves inside and make utility rooms out of them. With Tornado Alley Armor the possibilities are endless! Another great feature we offer is being able to use the storm shelter as a panic room. If you are able to find space inside your home for your Tornado Alley Armor safe room you’ll be steps ahead of an intruder while making your way to safety inside your home, rather than having to make it to the garage or even outdoors to be able to lock yourself in your safe room while you call for help. Yes, your cell phone will work inside our tornado shelters. Have questions? Give us a call at 855-55-ARMOR or check out our main page at www.tornadoalleyarmor.com for lots of very educational information. Check out our Youtube video that shows a Defender 5 adult safe room installed inside a closet that was actually smaller than the safe room before the...
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How do I know if my concrete slab foundation is thick enough and reinforced with steel for an above ground storm shelter?

The quickest and easiest way to tell if your concrete slab foundation is thick enough for a Tornado Alley Armor above ground storm shelter….. Drill a small hole through your concrete slab using a hammer drill and masonry bit. If you’re a minimum of 3.5”- 4” in before the bit punches through you’re just fine. If your home was built within the last 40-50 years, and if it was build in a city with building inspectors for new construction, chances are great that your concrete is adequate for an above ground safe room. If the reinforced concrete slab is found to be inadequate, we’d have to regroup and try to find an alternate location for your storm shelter, or make arrangements to beef up the existing location. There are a couple of options to modify the existing location which we’d have to discuss, and those options would probably add $1200-$1500 to the total cost of the tornado shelter. FYI- in all our installations we've only come across one that didn't qualify. Some info on the steel requirement for above ground safe rooms: It is recommended to add protection for the absolute worst case scenario. The idea is that if the concrete were put under enough stress that it actually flexed and failed, the steel embedded in the concrete should keep the broken part of the slab and the safe room attached to it connected to the main mass of the slab long enough for the tornado to pass. To our knowledge this scenario has never been observed. Also, if there are any structural considerations to the garage, such as being partially under grade like you’d find on a split level house, which would significantly reduce the loads on, and improve the performance of the slab. There’s a way you can check the concrete in your slab foundation...
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Metro Safe Room Rebate Program for the 4 Metro Counties (Collin, Dallas, Denton, or Tarrant) in North Central Texas

    Tornado Alley Armor has had some calls and questions concerning the FEMA Safe Room Rebate program going on in the 4 metro counties in Texas.  Tornado Alley Armor is a Producer Member of the NSSA and an approved supplier from which to buy your safe room. Applicants cannot enter into a contract or have a safe room installed until after approved. This is from the North Central Texas Council of Governments website found at https://saferoom.nctcog.org/Aboutus.aspx We are not accepting applications at this time. North Central Texas residents living or developing in one of the four metro counties (Collin, Dallas, Denton, or Tarrant) may qualify to receive half the cost of construction for an individual safe room, up to $3,000. The Safe Room Rebates are funded with FEMA supplied mitigation grants administered by NCTCOG. NCTCOG will be applying for future funding to expand the program to all 16 counties in the NCTCOG region. Applicants who wish to receive the reimbursement cannot build until they have received a notification that they have been selected for an award, and then they may proceed with selecting a vendor and installing a safe room. To participate, applicants must meet the following criteria: · Must be living or developing in one of the four participating counties listed above · Must NOT be living or developing in a 100 year floodplain (FEMA Flood Zone A) or listed in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) · Must contract with a National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA), such as Tornado Alley Armor, or ASTA certified supplier (once approved) Since this rebate program uses Federal funds, NCTCOG is required by federal law to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The purpose of the Section 106 consultation process is for Federal agencies to take into...
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Anchoring an Above Ground Storm Shelter with Wedge Anchors- Tornado Alley Armor Safe Rooms

I'm looking into buying one of your tornado shelters and am curious about how they are anchored to the slab. How do you anchor your storm shelters to a slab foundation? We anchor the safe room to your reinforced slab of adequate mass and geometry by using Red Head brand wedge anchors. FEMA recommends 10” maximum spacing, our spacing is 6-10-10-6-10-10-6…you get the idea. Each anchor “officially” provides around 3500 lbs of hold down resistance and even more shear resistance. However, we installed a safe room for a Mechanical Engineer from Hilti ( one of the world leaders in bolting and anchoring fasteners), and he told us they and other manufacturers use a safety factor of 13 when publishing their spec sheets. So in reality, each bolt literally provides about 50k lbs of hold down before it fails, and the number of bolts in your storm shelter is determined by the size you order. FIY- after all the hysteria and shrill reporting calmed down in Moore, investigations confirmed that ALL safe rooms and storm shelters in the storm’s path withstood the tornado and there wasn’t a single fatality or injury to anyone in a shelter. For more information visit www.tornadoalleyarmor.com or call toll free 855-55-ARMOR
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Where is the ventilation inside your above ground safe rooms? Are there air vents for breathing in your tornado storm shelters?

I'm claustrophobic and concerned about being able to get fresh air and being able to breathe while inside a Tornado Alley Armor above ground storm shelter. Where are the vents and how does that work?   We have two methods of ventilation in our tornado shelters. The first is primarily ornamental, for folks who want to see something that looks like ventilation. It’s a grid punched in the lower portion of the door, covered by a protective shield bolted to the door. It provides enough air supply for 3-4 occupants. The real ventilation is a ¼” “S”-path gap around the entire door perimeter. The door frame has a flange that protrudes out, and the door had a flange that faces inward. The door overlaps the frame when closed, creating a ¼” path where air can flow freely around the path but debris can’t. It also creates a soothing glow of outside light around the door perimeter when you’re latched securely inside. That winding path is referred to as a “torturous path”, and the gap provides enough ventilation for 20 additional people indefinitely, so no one has to take turns breathing.    ;-) For our larger units, we simply add a second door or perforated and shielded wall panels. Give us a call if you have any questions. We'd love to hear from you! www.tornadoalleyarmor.com                                  855-55-ARMOR
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Guest — maison neuve
It was nice to know about these two new methods of ventilation here and also about the tornado shelters.
Saturday, 24 August 2013 10:10 AM
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I'm Getting a FEMA Rebate for a Storm Shelter. Why does FEMA Require it be from a Safe Room Company that’s in the NSSA in Order to Get My Rebate?

I live in Grayson County in Sherman, Texas and have been chosen by FEMA to get a rebate on a Safe Room. Why does it matter who I buy it from? Basically it’s because the tornado shelter industry is unregulated and anyone can make storm shelters and say anything they want about it. Notice how many septic tank companies have joined the bandwagon and turned them into underground tornado shelters? The only way to know who to trust is by relying on the National Storm Shelter Association to give you guidance.  You can find their website here: http://www.nssa.cc/Origins.php. To qualify for Producer Member status in the NSSA shelter manufacturers must comply with FEMA 320 for storm shelters and have their designs and engineering calculations verified by a third party engineering company to be in compliance with the standard. The International Code Council (ICC) and the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) developed a national consensus standard to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ICC-500 is the ICC/NSSA Standard for Design and Construction of Storm Shelters. NSSA Membership is recommended and encouraged by meteorologists and weather professionals everywhere because it is the trusted and established authority on severe weather safety. The professionals at the NSSA are the same people who worked with FEMA to develop safe room design guidelines found in FEMA 320, FEMA 360 & FEMA 361, including the impact testing conducted at Texas Tech University's Wind Science and Engineering Research Center in Lubbock, TX. The primary purpose of the NSSA is to ensure the highest quality of manufactured and constructed storm shelters for protecting people from injury or loss of life from the effects of tornadoes, hurricanes and other devastating natural disasters. The association is self-policing for the storm shelter industry. This is why FEMA relies on the...
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Guest — Nancy
How do you get chosen by FEMA for a rebate?Nancy, The city or county you live in would have to apply for funding through FEMA. Onc
Thursday, 16 May 2013 5:05 AM
Guest — Greg
Good information here. Thanks for giving us more information about the NSSA and storm shelter compliance.
Monday, 07 November 2016 3:03 AM
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Do Storm Shelter Companies Have To Follow Government Regulations?

Q: Is the safe room industry regulated by the government? A: No, it is not. There is no regulation or follow-up done by the government to verify a tornado shelter or safe room company’s claims are true. That being said, the National Storm Shelter Association is a voluntary organization that is very strict on following the guidelines set forth by FEMA. Tornado Alley Armor is a Producer Member in the prestigious National Storm Shelter Association…best of the best in the safe room industry. Our safe room design meets or exceeds the design standards found in FEMA 320/361, ICC-500 and NSSA publications, and the NSSA has verified that our design has been checked by 2 separate engineering firms for FEMA design compliance. We have been successfully tested with over 2x the required number of F5 debris impacts at Texas Tech University. We’re one of only 2-3 safe room companies in the US to have met the newest and most stringent requirements for Safe Room manufacturers. You should check out the NSSA for yourself. www.nssa.cc Of all the safe room companies out there, you can trust that members of the NSSA will have the most rigorous testing and documentation of their design over any of the competitors, and that when we say we meet or exceed FEMA design standards, our safe room design has been thoroughly checked for strength and code compliance by a certified Professional Engineer (FEMA 320/361 and ICC-500 Standards for Safe Room Design & Construction), and all calculations, drawings & quality control systems have been peer reviewed by a second, NSSA-approved certified Professional Engineer familiar with safe room design codes and requirements. You may accidentally run across another storm shelter association out there claiming to be on par with the NSSA...but, do you remember the USFL? The ABA? Same...
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