JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS THE DOOR ON A TORNADO SHELTER?
A tragic event answered this question with absolute clarity. In April, 2014, the door of a site-built shelter failed during a tornado, taking the life of a lady who sought shelter inside it. The concrete block shelter itself remained intact - it was just the door that failed. It has been our observation throughout our years of being in the tornado shelter business that the door is often the weak link in a site-built shelter. Builders and homeowners alike are often settling for weaker, cheaper doors, and this decision can, and has, led to tragic consequences.
Once we made the decision to provide a better alternative, we prioritized the engineering of the door as follows:
1. It had to withstand an EF-5 tornado. Safety and protection is always our first priority. Both door and frame is constructed of 10 gauge steel, rather than the thinner 12 or 14 gauge steel that many other manufacturers use, for an added measure of safey and security.
2. It had to be easy for anyone to function. Most other tornado doors on the market require the user to have the ability to turn three deadbolts, one high on the door, one low on the door, and one in the middle of the door. We made our six one-inch diameter solid-steel door bolts open or close with a single, easy to function, lever handle.
3. It had to be accessible. Our doors are available in a 32" and a 36" width, depending on your mobility needs. The door has no threshold. And the ball-bearing hinges allow the very heavy door to swing open or closed easily, making it ideal for persons with decreased abilities (ADA compliant).
4. It had to be reliable. There are two basic assumptions that one makes when purchasing a storm shelter door: 1) that it will open when needed, and 2) that it will latch securely when needed. We designed reliability into our door and go to great lengths in the production of our doors to make sure that it performs like it should every time. This is not always the case with other shelter doors - as we well know from first-hand experience!
5. It had to be attractive. We strongly advocate the construction of shelters as a year-round useful space, such as a closet that doubles as a tornado shelter when needed. To that end, we offer our doors in several attractive door skins to match the other doors of your home or business.
6. Price. We could have used thinner metal and lighter hardware and made a cheaper door. But we chose safety, functionality, accessibility, reliability, and style over price, because, quite frankly, you're worth it.