Storm Pit

Underground Storm Shelters and Emergency Shelters

Storm Pit

Storm Pits are underground emergency shelters built in a property. They can be built in the backyard of a home or a business for taking shelter in the case of emergencies such as tornadoes or severe storms. Storm Pits are liveable areas and are preferred to the basements due to the sturdy structures. Storm Pits are being planned during the new construction design phase itself. They can be added any time by a licensed contractor.


Emergency situations arise within short notice in areas that are prone to severe tornadoes and thunderstorms. The EF5 tornadoes at high winds speeds of 250 miles per hour leave little time for people to get to a community emergency shelter. Storm Pits serve as an emergency shelter right in the property and are accessible within few minutes. A Storm Pit can accomadate six to nine people or more based on the size.


Storm Pits are concrete structures that have strength and can be made water proof. The underground concrete structures are resistant to high winds and flooding. Storm Pits made of fiberglass material and steel are also popular. Fiberglass is prone to rot, steel is prone to rust, and concrete Storm Pits are prone to moisture. You can chose the material based on the space available and other conditions.


Storm Pits must be built by licensed contractors according to the FEMA and local building codes. They must pass the testing standards in order to get accepted. Depending on the place you live, Storm Pits must be built within certain feet of your property, built away from water and power lines, must not obstruct any other traffic, and so on. If your area is prone to flooding, the Storm Pit must be coated with a waterproof material, built with drain tile, and must have a sump pump installed.

Storm Pit Features

A Storm Pit can be customized according to your family size. You can build benches, inbuilt wall shelves, foldable chairs, inflatable mattress, adjustable stairs and handrails, and so on. Individual plastic containers can be used to store items such as toiletries, extra blankets, spare clothes, hand crank radio, additional batteries, solar lights, first aid, and cleaning supplies.

Installing electric outlets in the Storm Pit is a good idea that can charge mobile phones, tablets, laptops, or any other devices. If you have children, you can install a mini potty. Having toys, board games, writing supplies, or story books is a good idea to keep the children engaged during your stay in the Storm Pit. It is better to have space heaters or fans to maintain the air circulation.

Storm Pits also need to have features such as locks, latches, deadbolt, wood or steel doors, ventilation, and so on. The latches must be tested and the doors must be removable in case of emergencies. You can have some emergency tool kit in the Storm Pit.

Carpeted floors can be installed based on individual preferences. Storm Pits are equipped with standard winches to be used in times of entrapment. The Storm Pits are coated with cold tar epoxy to prevent corrosion on the exterior. Storm Pits need to be registered with the city and are equipped with a GPS system. The city can use the information to track the people in the case of emergencies.

Building a Storm Pit

Building a Storm Pit involves design and planning. A Storm Pit design considers the area, distance from the property, features to be included, underground depth, container material, stairs, metal, manpower required, and so on. Plan the activity in multiple phases so the activity is coordinated. Hire a licensed contractor to build the Storm Pit so you are assured of the safety and quality.

First, mark the area where the Storm Pit is built. Next, dig the area greater than the proposed construction to allow walking around the Storm Pit. Place the wooden frames and concrete blocks in the planned area. Pour the concrete to fill the gaps. Place a metal mesh on the roof for a robust construction and so that it will not blow away during extreme winds. Place metal frames on the walls if required. A FEMA approved steel door or wood door is preferred with latches and dead bolt. Make sure there is no water accumulation after construction. Ventilation and safety are very important factors to consider while building a Storm Pit.

Storm Pit Safety

Storm Pit safety is the most important aspect of its construction. The emergency shelter built underground must be robust enough to withstand extreme pressure. The exit and entry of the Storm Pit must be tested and it is suggested to have mock-ups. Emergency drills will help to get used to the Storm Pit environment. A Storm Pit must pass the FEMA requirements for high wind resistance, high impact resistance, flood-proof requirements, and hazard mitigation requirements.

If you live in the Tornado Alley in the USA, a Storm Pit is mandatory for you. Having a Storm Pit built during the new construction phase itself is quite economical. If you decide to build a Storm Pit at a later stage, it will cost 20 percent more. It is crucial not to overload the Storm Pit with unnecessary items. Storing only emergency items is recommended. To keep your Storm Pit safe, you need to make it clutter free.

Contact expert licensed contractors such as Olde Town Group or Olde Town Roofing if you decide to install a Storm Pit underground emergency shelter on your property. Call 309-517-1676 or 309-738-5550 for instant quotes.