Tornadoes Spark Increased Interest in Storm Shelters

by Jordan King  on Monday, Jun. 24, 2013 12:00 am  

Turner said he has outfitted the 32-person shelters with solar panels, lighting, emergency radios, insulation and air-conditioning units, the latter being particularly valuable for pipeline crews because the shelters can also serve as “cooling areas.” He said that in one day on the job, six men had to be treated for heat-related health issues. As a result, his employer is now considering using the shelters to protect employees from the overwhelming Oklahoma heat in addition to the region’s tornadoes.

Turner estimates that it would cost $195 a day to place one of his shelters on a job site. While he remains optimistic about the rental, Turner said, “Everybody talks safety until it comes to paying for it.”

A third Arkansas storm shelter manufacturer has taken a different approach to providing tornado protection in industrial settings. Rather than provide large community-sized shelters for workers, Randy Parsley, owner of Mighty Metal Products LLC of Beebe, encourages his customers to strategically place a number of smaller aboveground shelters throughout a job site.

Mighty Metal’s NWI-tested MightySafe shelters are tailored for the number of workers who will be stationed nearby, a setup Parsley said improves accessibility and safety because employees can take cover faster. He added that workers also spend less time traveling to and from localized shelters, in turn increasing productivity.

Parsley said his company and Tornado Shelter Systems Inc., Mighty Metal’s retailer and distributor in Austin (Lonoke County), have sold 186 shelters since the beginning of 2013. Alisa Smith, sales manager at Tornado Shelter Systems, said a 4-by-6 shelter, which holds six to eight people, costs $5,195 with delivery and installation included.

Windmill Rice Co. LLC, located in Jonesboro, is a MightySafe customer, and Parsley said Georgia-Pacific LLC has recently ordered 23 shelters for its Gurdon sawmill in Clark County. He said sales are “absolutely on the increase” because of recent natural disasters.



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