Above or below ground, the (new) age old argument.

aboveground belowground

Having a storm shelter has moved from the few to the many and is extremely common to install and much easier. Hundreds of companies have sprouted across the US providing this service. We have dozens of them here in Oklahoma. Even home builders are now offering the option of having one installed with new home construction.

So which is best, above ground or below? It comes down to personal preference really. Both are completely safe assuming you are buying from a reputable company and that the shelter is built according to FEMA guidelines. The phrase “FEMA approved” isn’t really accurate as FEMA doesn’t approve anything. However, the take away is that the company is claiming the shelter is built according to FEMA standards. Here are some of the pros and cons of each type of shelter.

Above ground:


  1. Easier access, especially if not physically able to climb stairs
  2. Located within the home, either a closet space or in the garage
  3. Debris could still trap door opening but being above ground may relieve anxiety
  4. Better option if living in flood prone area


  1. Very loud in a tornado, ear plugs or noise canceling gun range ear protection a must
  2. If used as a storage closet, less time to seek shelter
  3. Small, not for large families

Below ground:


  1. Can be located in the garage or buried in the ground on property
  2. Out of sight, doesn’t take up any space and cheaper to install
  3. Better sound protection
  4. Typically much larger to accommodate pets, large families, and neighbors


  1. If located too far from inside home, reduces time to seek safety
  2. Can flood if in a flood prone area
  3. Debris could trap opening, make sure it is registered with officials
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