How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space

Written by jennifer dermody
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How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space
Be prepared for dangerous weather with an in-home storm shelter. (extreme weather image by Calin Tatu from

In a weather emergency, take steps to protect yourself and your family by creating a storm shelter, in the crawl space below your house that isn't deep enough for a basement. When you must take immediate shelter from a storm, the ideal location is away from windows, in a central location in your home. Whether for a few hours or even days, be prepared with supplies in a safe refuge until the storm passes.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Weather radio
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Food
  • Water
  • Emergency preparedness kit
  • Battery-operated lamp

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  1. 1

    Create an area in the crawl space that's clear of debris and isn't located beneath large, heavy pieces of furniture on the above floor.

  2. 2

    Assemble a disaster supply kit that includes one gallon of water per person, per day, for at least three days. Also include a three-day supply of nonperishable food, a battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries, first-aid kit, sanitation items, matches and waterproof container, whistle, extra clothing, kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener, photocopies of credit and identification cards, cash, eyeglasses, contact lens solutions and hearing aid batteries.

    How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space
    Store your disaster supply kit in a basket or bucket. (plastic basket image by gajatz from
  3. 3

    Make a list of basic items that members of your household may need during an emergency, including medicines or security items for children. Store the list in the emergency supply kit.

    How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space
    Don't forget the important items, such as a child's security blanket. (boy in a blanket 4 image by Paul Moore from
  4. 4

    Identify your community's warning systems and evacuation routes, and know how the community sends out important communication.

    How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space
    Familiarise yourself with community warning systems. (Big red fire siren on the roof of a fire station image by Alexey Stiop from
  5. 5

    Gather extra blankets and sleeping bags, and store them in the shelter.

  6. 6

    Place a battery-operated lamp in the shelter, with backup batteries.

    How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space
    A flashlight that stands adjusts for use as a lamp. (Black and yellow flashlight image by Jim Mills from
  7. 7

    Update the contents of your emergency kit and shelter as needed.

    How to build a storm shelter in a crawl space
    Remember a new baby in your emergency kit and shelter space. (mother holding newborn child #9 image by Adam Borkowski from

Tips and warnings

  • Heavy objects can fall though the floor if a tornado strikes your house.
  • Below-ground shelters must be designed to avoid accumulating water during rain storms. Avoid seeking shelter in a crawl space if there's a flood threat, such as the heavy rains accompanying severe windstorms.

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