The best above ground tornado shelters offer a haven against nature’s fury, ensuring family safety during severe storms. Grounded in innovation, these shelters offer protection, combining robustness with accessibility.
Living in tornado-prone areas presents an ever-present threat to residents. Having such a shelter ensures that when disaster strikes, there’s a secure space to retreat to, minimizing the risk of injury or loss of life.
The old basement may have seemed like a safe haven, but it’s not built to withstand the incredible power of a tornado. The cluttered space might even put your loved ones at greater risk.
Fear not! We’ve done the research and found the 15 best above ground tornado shelters to give you peace of mind.
With these options, you can ensure your family’s safety without breaking the bank. Let’s dive in and arm you with the knowledge you need to face the wrath of Mother Nature head-on!
In This Guide
The 15 Best Above Ground Tornado Storm Shelters
In seeking protection from tornadoes, prioritize top-tier shelters. Selecting from the high-quality shelters ensures peace of mind during nature’s fury.
Here are the 15 best ones we found:
Valley Storm Shelters has a selection of seven types of residential storm shelters to pick from. These shelters are made with sturdy ¼” steel plates and anchored to a concrete foundation with heavy-duty 24″carbon steel anchors and industrial-strength adhesive.
You can even have them installed as a stand-alone structure or as an addition to your garage or basement. They’re all built to keep you safe from the strongest tornadoes since they can handle wind speeds of up to 300 mph!
Now, what’s really cool about these safe rooms is that they come with secure electrical access, reinforced steel corners, and a door that looks like it belongs in a vault. It has a drill-proof deadbolt and a bullet-resistant peephole for extra safety.
All of Valley Storm Shelters’ products meet the standards set by FEMA, ICC, and NSSA. That means you’ll be in good hands during any storm.
The smallest one they offer is 4’x4′ and can comfortably fit three people. On the other hand, the largest one is designed for the whole community and can shelter up to 36 folks.
FamilySAFE is a brand tested and proven to be super reliable in 14 of the worst tornadoes — making them the most experienced steel shelter company in the US.
The brand has nine different sizes to fit our needs, starting at a cozy 3.5’x5′ and going up to a spacious 8’x12′.
Their standard model uses 3/16″-thick steel, but they also offer a thicker ¼” steel option if you want to customize it. The whole thing is welded together like a NASCAR roll cage, so it’s super strong. It can handle a whopping 100,000 lbs. falling right on top of it.
You’ve got two types: a solid, welded one-piece unit for outside installation and a bolt-together option that can be set up anywhere in your home. They are EF5 certified and have this neat SAFE-T-DOOR technology that ensures we won’t ever get trapped inside.
FamilySAFE is the only tornado shelter company with a written endorsement from HILTI, the anchorage company. Their installers are top-notch and trained directly by HILTI.
The door design on these shelters features a patent-pending, no-pinch design that makes it almost impossible to get trapped inside.
Atlas Safe Rooms is a member of the American Tornado Shelter Association (ATSA). They ensure that storm shelter companies create and install top-notch tornado-safe shelters, so you’re in good hands with this company.
Tested by Texas Tech University Wind Engineering, these storm shelters can withstand the power of an EF-5 tornado. Atlas Safe Rooms offers six different sizes, with the smallest being the two-person Apollo at 4’5″ x 2’5″.
As the sizes increase, they can accommodate groups of four, and the largest models can provide protection for 10 to 14 individuals.
Their modular above ground storm shelters and safe rooms are made with 3/16″ thick steel and can be anchored to any existing concrete slab, whether in your garage, basement or even outdoors.
Each safe room features removable panels that provide an emergency exit if the door becomes damaged or blocked.
Screened airflow vents ensure proper ventilation without exposing you to flying debris, and a three-bolt locking mechanism adds an extra layer of security from outside threats.
Safe Sheds is a company that’s been specializing in above ground concrete storm shelters since 2002, and they’re really good at what they do.
Their concrete storm shelters are built to withstand winds of over 250 mph and any high-speed debris that comes along with it.
With 6″ ceilings and 4″ steel-reinforced walls, these shelters are designed to protect you from the harshest weather without breaking the bank.
Safe Sheds sells storm shelters directly from the manufacturer. This means you don’t have to worry about any dealer markup, and they even look for ways to save you money.
Sometimes, they’ll even give you extra delivery discounts after your price is set!
You can easily set up a Safe Shed on any level ground with screw anchors that go 4” deep, or you can secure it onto an existing concrete pad.
Plus, they even offer a variety of paint colors, so your storm shelter won’t stick out like a sore thumb in your yard.
Ground Zero Shelters has been working on creating safe spaces for people during crises for almost two decades. They’ve got above ground safe room shelters to protect you and your loved ones from storms or even home invasions.
Not only do they have standard sizes, but they can also customize a safe room or panic room just for you. Typically, they offer sizes between 4′ x 5′ 8″ and 6 ‘3″ tall and 4′ x 7’8″ x 6′ 3″ tall, but they can be built as small as 4′ x 4′ or as large as 9′ x 10’.
Ground Zero uses ¼” steel plate for their shelter’s main structure, and secures it to a 4″ concrete slab with a Hilti bolt anchoring system that can handle 10,000 PSI.
The 36″ door is even wheelchair accessible and comes with five locks, including a deadbolt, for extra security. Plus, there are two vents for air circulation and emergency access if needed.
Built with top-quality materials, these steel storm shelters go above and beyond FEMA standards, providing near-absolute protection in even the worst storms.
Based in Thomasville, Georgia, Survive-A-Storm Shelters’ trusted storm safety solutions can be found in 35 states.
It has three types of above ground shelters: TwisterPod, Extreme, and Panelized.
The TwisterPod Max are practical above ground tornado shelters for up to six occupants.
These shelters are efficient in terms of space and make for attractive additions to any garage, carport, or outside patio. They are perfect for small families or individuals.
Constructed of quarter-inch steel, the Extreme above ground storm shelters are bulletproof, boasting an NIJ Level 2A ballistics rating. Available in six different sizes, these shelters have a unique escape hatch that requires no operating tools.
If you need an above ground tornado shelter that provides ultimate protection against EF5 tornadoes, panelized shelters are the way to go. These shelters have been used in apartment complexes, condominiums, and office buildings, ensuring everyone’s safety and peace of mind.
Protection Shelters have a fantastic option for those who prefer a concrete residential shelter instead of steel. They make it using super-strong concrete that can handle 6,000 PSI.
The walls are 4 inches thick, reinforced with fiber mesh and steel bars, making them super sturdy. They also offer various sizes of concrete and steel storm and residential tornado shelters and can custom-build group shelters for any number of people.
Their above ground concrete residential shelter is built to FEMA 320 specifications, making it safe and reliable. Plus, the steel door has been tested for 250 mph winds or EF5 tornadoes.
You can place this shelter on an existing patio or concrete pad, and they have two size options: either 4’8″ x 8’8″ or 6’8″ x 6’8″. But, if you don’t want it outside or taking up space in your backyard, they’ve got a custom garage tornado shelter made of steel, which can be bolted and anchored to an existing concrete floor.
Plus, you can modify it for wheelchair accessibility while meeting the most stringent storm shelter standards, including the latest FEMA guidelines.
This clever storm shelter can also be used as a workbench. It’s a 3’2″-fantastic space-saving solution that offers protection during emergencies.
These shelters are made with 10-gauge steel, which might not be as strong as ¼” steel walls. But don’t worry. They’ve passed all the tests and meet FEMA’s criteria for residential safe rooms.
Tornado Alley Armor has some other interesting options too, like the 3’4″ x 3’4″ Defiant and the 2’6″ x 6’10” Defender that’s spacious enough for a family of four.
The great thing about these models is that they come with detailed instructions, helpful videos, and support services, so you can choose between a professional installation or a fun DIY project.
Survival Zone Safe Rooms features two basic designs: the Tank and the Knight.
The Tank is made of super-strong 3/8″steel and goes above and beyond the standards for above ground storm shelters.
It has a sturdy 3/8″ door with cold-rolled steel locks and hinge pins for extra security. Plus, they can customize it just for you.
The Knight, on the other hand, features a ¼” steel structure that offers plenty of protection from both intruders and tornadoes.
What’s great about Survival Zone is its commitment to meeting its customers’ needs. They can create custom storm shelters to fit just the right spot and provide an excellent product and experience that’s tough to find elsewhere.
Swisher Safety Shelters boast a robust 3/16″ carbon steel construction and sliding doors designed to minimize the risk of jamming or damage during a tornado.
With additional locking pins that can be removed only from within, these doors make the shelters ideal for dual use as both safe rooms and storm shelters.
A Security Grade Deadbolt keeps the latch bar locked, preventing the door from being opened outside.
Three steel pins lock the door securely within a 3” deep steel jamb pocket, so it doesn’t rely just on the deadbolts as the primary locking mechanism.
The entire shelter is made from thick carbon steel, with Grade 5 hardware, and most surfaces are powder-coated for ultimate protection and a nice appearance.
The sliding reinforced steel door design is unique and eliminates issues commonly found with inward and outward swinging doors.
You know how airplanes have redundant engineering, so there’s a backup system in case the primary one fails? Well, the Tornado Tech Shelter uses the same approach to keep you safe during a storm.
FlatSafe’s Tornado Tech Shelter features layered flexible steel walls, multiple anchoring methods, evenly distributed ventilation, and dual-swing doors with top-to-bottom continuous hinges.
Independent engineering firms have evaluated this shelter, and it’s been impact tested for EF-5 conditions, so you can trust that it’s reliable.
It has everything you need in a tornado shelter: easy access from inside the house, good ventilation, strong resistance to impact, strong anchoring, safe entry, and emergency exits.
Crafted by an engineer and put through their paces in an independent lab, these shelters are built to handle the impact of an EF5 tornado. That’s the kind of tornado with winds over 250 mph!
You can buy Extreme Storm Shelters with or without installation. Just remember, if you choose to have someone else install it, it’s important to ensure they’re qualified and follow the manufacturer’s specifications.
Delivery fees are included in the installation price if you live within a 50-mile radius of an Extreme Storm Shelters distribution center. However, if your place is beyond that zone, expect an extra fee per loaded mile.
These Torshel storm shelters are heavy-duty steel and can withstand an EF5 tornado. They’re perfect for the elderly, people with disabilities, claustrophobics, and even for homes with post-tension cables in their concrete slabs.
They’ve passed rigorous testing, and you can even watch videos of their amazing performance. All residential and commercial shelters meet FEMA’s strict guidelines and exceed ICC 500 protocols.
When it comes to seating, you have two options: bring your chairs or have Torshel install two removable wooden benches.
The safe room shelters also have four heavy-duty steel sliding locks inside the frame, making them almost impossible for intruders or debris to access.
Oklahoma Shelters ensure its products are well-engineered and tested to withstand extreme winds and flying debris from tornadoes.
You can trust their products because they’ve been tested twice: once by their engineers and bypassing the Texas Tech Impact Test.
They’re focused on making sure their shelters and safe rooms are well-reinforced. Plus, they offer a 10-year warranty against leaks and corrosion, so you know you’re getting a quality product.
Lone Star Safe Rooms have braved the rigorous trials of the Texas Tech Wind Institute and emerged triumphant, meeting or even surpassing all FEMA Windborne Debris Standards. Each Lone Star Safe Room is tailor-made to suit your specific needs.
Regardless of where you choose to nestle your safe room — be it tucked away in a closet, nestled under the stairs, or cozied up in the garage — Lone Star’s offerings are crafted and fitted using some of the industry’s most esteemed products, including names like Schlage, Simpson Strong-Tie, and GE.
Lone Star Safe Rooms also come with a lifetime guarantee. It covers any defects in the installation of steel wall and ceiling panels, door sets, barrel hinges, slide bolts, or deadbolts.
Types of Storm Shelters
Storm shelters come in various designs, each tailored to different needs and environments. Here are its different types to help you navigate and determine the best fit for your circumstances.
Above Ground Storm Shelters
Above ground storm shelters prioritize accessibility, these structures offer security without the need for excavation and are often favored by homeowners.
These storm shelters are designed to withstand severe weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes. They’re made from reinforced steel or concrete to ensure they can handle extreme winds and flying debris.
These are some of the more popular above ground shelters you can have:
Safe rooms are specially designed rooms within your home, built to FEMA guidelines, which provide a protected space for occupants during a tornado.
Standalone shelters can be installed inside your garage, backyard, or other accessible locations, providing a secure space separate from your main living area.
Underground Storm Shelters or In-Ground Storm Shelters
Underground, or in-ground, shelters bank on earth’s natural insulation. Positioned beneath the surface, they promise enhanced protection from the devastating forces of tornadoes.
These shelters are designed to be even more resistant to tornadoes and high winds due to their lower profile.
Basement storm shelters:
If your house already has a basement, you can designate a reinforced area as a storm shelter, or install a purpose-built tornado shelter within it.
Outdoor underground shelters:
These are installed in your yard or other suitable locations away from the main house. They can be made from materials like concrete, steel, or fiberglass.
What To Consider When Buying The Best Above Ground Tornado Shelters
Choosing the best above ground tornado shelter goes beyond the product itself, you should consider any requirements and logistical needs.
Aside from that, there are other factors to consider, let’s delve into them to ensure you make an informed decision.
Building permits act as the cornerstone of legal installations. Adhering to regional guidelines ensures the shelter stands resilient, meeting safety standards.
Make sure you get your building permit before constructing your shelter. Every city and county has its own building regulations. You’ll need to make sure you’re complying with them when installing your storm shelter.
Now you can always just “wing it” and build a shelter yourself. However, it’s better to make sure everything you’re doing is up to code. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to legal matters and safety!
Scouting the optimal location for your storm shelter is important as quick and effortless access during emergencies can make all the difference when every second counts. The designated spot for your shelter should be away from windows and flammable materials.
Make sure there’s enough space for the shelter and if the ground is suitable for installation. Remember, you want it to blend in with your property instead of being too much of an eyesore.
Take some time to find the perfect spot for your new above ground tornado storm shelter.
Gauging the number of potential occupants ensures that during a tornado, everyone finds refuge without compromise. Capacity directly influences who and what can be safely sheltered within during a storm. This might include your family members, neighbors, and even pets.
Keep in mind that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) guidelines recommend allocating at least 3 square feet per person, but you might want a bit more space for added comfort.
Are above ground storm shelters safe?
Yes, above ground storm shelters are designed to be safe during severe weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes.
They’re typically made of reinforced steel or concrete, which allows them to withstand extreme winds and flying debris.
Just keep in mind that the protection level depends on the shelter’s quality and proper installation.
So if you’re considering an above ground storm shelter, ensure it meets or exceeds FEMA guidelines and is installed by a qualified professional.
Can you put an above ground storm shelter in the garage?
Yes, many people choose this option because it can be more convenient and accessible. Consider these factors when installing an above ground storm shelter in your garage:
- Make sure the shelter is properly anchored to the garage floor to prevent it from being lifted or moved during a storm. This usually involves using strong bolts and a reinforced concrete slab.
- Ensure that the shelter’s door opens inward to prevent it from being blocked by debris.
- Keep the area around the shelter clear of clutter and obstacles, so you can access it easily during an emergency.
Safety remains paramount when confronting nature’s unpredictability. After thorough research, it’s evident that investing in a top-notch above ground tornado shelter can significantly enhance your protection during storms.
These 15 shelters exemplify the perfect blend of robust design, accessibility, and user-friendliness. Ensuring that you and your loved ones have a reliable refuge during tumultuous times is not just a choice—it’s a necessity.
With this article as your trusty treasure map, we’re confident you’ll navigate the stormy seas of shelter selection with ease and emerge victorious, ready to tackle whatever wild whirlwinds Mother Nature sends your way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Montgomery is the co-founder of Modern Day Prepping. He and his wife Angie have been dedicated to the self-reliant lifestyle since 2008. When he’s not working on the homestead, he enjoys tinkering with electronics and family movie nights with Angie and their two boys. To learn more about Bill, visit the About Us page.
If you want to know how to keep your family safe in the modern world, visit Privacy For Patriots, a sister site that Bill started to help fellow Patriots stay “off the radar” from bad actors and big tech.