Storm shelters are becoming more important throughout the US as extreme weather events become the norm. Specifically, Illinois and Michigan have experienced an uptick in thunderstorms with hail and extreme variations in temperatures in the past few years. A similar outlook is predicted in the coming decades. In an effort to protect residents, communities are exploring cost-effective, long term solutions like precast concrete construction.

Precast Concrete Meets FEMA P-361 Standards

Precast concrete meets all FEMA P-361 criteria for safe rooms. It can be used on the most simple design level for storm shelters.  FEMA has more stringent guidelines than other building codes and requires near absolution protection from wind and debris for occupants during extreme weather events. The wind speeds chosen by FEMA place an emphasis on safety and require the ability to withstand wind speeds of 250mph. Precast concrete meets these stringent standards.

PCI highlighted FEMA storm shelter requirements and how precast meets these needs in their Ascent magazine. Click the cover below to read the full story.

Current FEMA P-361 guidelines can be viewed here.

PCI Midwest compiled a precast concrete storm shelter information sheet that expands on the benefits of precast shelters. View your copy below.

Precast Concrete Storm Shelter Benefits

Precast concrete not only protects occupants within a structure, it adds value as well. There are a variety of added benefits precast offers to structures including:
  • Improved structural integrity
  • Protection against extreme winds
  • Reduced construction times
  • Thermal mass benefits

Buildings constructed with precast often serve as multi-purpose structures and are designed to serve as gyms or auditoriums as well. These added design considerations add comfort and convenience when people are forced to use the shelter for an extreme weather event. Thick, insulated precast walls dampen sound and FEMA-rated windows provide natural light improving the environment for occupants.

Storm Shelter Case Study

Highland Manor’s $1.2 million Community Safe room provides safety during storms while also serving as a gathering place for residents. The facility is 6,400 square feet and has an occupancy of 845 during storms.

“Precast concrete was cost-effective and allowed critical components to be fabricated off-site and shipped to the site for assembly. This allowed construction to proceed during a relatively harsh winter without delays,” recalls David Boldt, project engineer at raSmith