Storm Shelters and Safe Rooms
Natural Resource Engineering Specialist
University of Missouri Extension in Webster County
The devastating tornadoes that have hit Missouri in recent years have caused many Missourians to take a closer look at their vulnerability to nature's wrath and to make better preparations for surviving future storms.
Having a shelter or a safe room built into or near the home can help protect your family from injury or death caused by the dangerous forces of extreme winds.
Missouri is a high-risk state for high wind and tornadoes
All of Missouri is in Wind Zone IV, meaning wind gusts from severe storms can exceed 250 mph. The number of recorded tornadoes is 5 to 15 per 2,470 square miles for much of the state. Combined, these factors place the entire state at a high-risk level that warrants a shelter as the preferred method of protection.
Basic features of a shelter or safe room
In selecting a shelter or safe room, consider the following three factors.
Is it strong enough that the walls, roof and door will withstand 250-mph winds and resist penetration by 100-mph wind-borne flying debris? Is it well-anchored to resist overturning and uplift? Does it have three dead-bolt locks, or the equivalent, on the access door?
Is it close to or inside your residence or place of work so you can quickly get to it? It should be readily accessible from all parts of the dwelling. Do you want it in-ground or above-ground? If in-ground, will the soils and drainage accommodate it and be in a flood-free area?
Can you easily get into and out of it? Does it need to be wheelchair accessible? Does the door open outward or inward? Your shelter or safe room should be free of clutter.
You will need to decide between reinforced concrete, fabricated steel, Kevlar, or plywood and sheet steel. Commonly used house construction techniques are based on minimum building codes and generally don't provide adequate protection. Most Missouri counties do not have even these minimum building codes.
Resources for planning and building a shelter or safe room
To help homeowners and builders design and build shelters that withstand extreme wind speeds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a 46-page booklet titled FEMA 320, Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room For Your Home or Small Business, which includes 18 pages of construction plans and cost estimates. You can get a free copy by
Whether you build a shelter or not, you can take these important steps to protect your family.
- Prepare an emergency plan for dealing with disaster situations.
- Put together an emergency supply kit for home, business and each vehicle.
More resources and information
Partial list of storm shelter and safe room manufacturers serving Missouri
- Atlas Safe Rooms
601 S. McKinley Ave.
Joplin, MO 64801
- Calus Precast Concrete
211 E. 20th St.
Mountain Grove, MO 65711
Phone: 417-926-6000 or 417-259-4283
- FamilySAFE Storm Shelters
221 W. North St.
Republic, MO 65738
Phone: 417-732-7233 or 417-848-3791
- Missouri Storm Shelters, Inc.
1839 N. Commerce Drive
Nixa, MO 65714
- Ozark Wilbert Vault Co.
310 Spruce St.
Cabool, MO 65689
- Reliable Storm Shelters
Carthage, MO 64836
Phone: 417-850-5562 or 417-861-7178
- Ron Norris
7911 County Road 5090
West Plains, MO 65775
(Builds poured-in-place concrete safe rooms within 100-mile radius of West Plains)
- Safe-T-First Storm Shelters/Steel Safe Rooms and Doors
440 SW U.S. Highway 60
Billings, MO 65610
Phone: 417-744-1700 or 417-840-1085
- SI Precast Concrete
Phone: 816-966-9000 (Grandview)
417-962-3126 (Mountain Grove)
816-233-0248 (St. Joseph)
- The Concrete Works, LLC
One Concrete Way
H.C.R. 72, Box 374
Souder, MO 65773
- Tornado Guard
21205 N. Ponderosa Road
Clark, MO 65243
Phone: 573-687-3253 or 573-673-1535
- TwisterSafe, LLC
9479 Gateway Drive
Neosho, MO 64850
EMW1025, revised March 2014