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>> The Benefits of Choosing a Certified Storm Shelter Manufacturer and Installer
Remember to always look for ATSA or NSSA certification.
One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Are your storm shelters FEMA approved?”. The simple and direct answer is no. FEMA does not test, evaluate or “approve” any shelter, from any manufacturer anywhere. They do however set forth the recommended standards for construction of storm shelters and safe rooms.
If you happen across a website advertising safe rooms that are “FEMA approved” beware. Today, there are only two industry organizations, that are recognized by most states and FEMA, who certify whether the design of a safe room or storm shelter meets (or exceeds) FEMA standards. Those two organizations are as follows:
Manufacturers who provide certified shelters through either of these two organizations have verified the design and performance of their products through third party engineering evaluation as well as debris impact testing. This process must be documented and kept on file with whichever organization a manufacturer belongs to.
Much like the roofing industry, storm shelter companies pop up everywhere following a severe weather outbreak. Many carry no certification at all but offer quick, cheap shelters to unsuspecting buyers who only look at the cost. When the demand for shelters decreases, as it always does in calm weather, these companies disappear never to be seen again. When their customers find problems with their shelters, the seller is long gone and any warranty is only worth the paper it is written on (assuming they provided a written warranty).
Certification provides customers with peace of mind in knowing that the company they are dealing with is there to stay. It is quite costly to obtain the verification and testing required for certification and fly-by-night companies will not invest the money or take the time to acquire it. If you are in an area where a storm shelter grant/rebate program is available, one of the requirements of that program will be that you purchase a product that carries either ATSA or NSSA certification. Non-certified shelters will not qualify for any rebate. In addition to assurance of quality design, ATSA and NSSA provide an additional level of security for customers who purchase shelters from their members. Should a member deliver an unsafe shelter or act in an unethical manor, either organization would likely investigate the situation and work to resolve it. Members of the ATSA are also required maintain good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
If you are considering a new storm shelter or safe room, always look for ATSA or NSSA certification. You will find that in many cases, the cost for a certified product is no higher (and sometimes lower) than non-certified units on the market. The purpose of any safe room or storm shelter is to provide you and your family with protection during severe weather. The company you choose should have a solid track record, provide certified safe shelters and be there for you after the sale if you ever need them again.