Maximizing Safety: Is Burying a Shipping Container Ideal for Tornado Shelter?

Yes, you can bury a shipping container for a tornado shelter. However, there are drawbacks to consider before making this decision. Some of these drawbacks include:
  • Shipping containers are not designed to be placed in the ground. When buried, the pressure from the surrounding soil could damage the sides of the container.
  • Structural changes are required before burying the container. This includes reinforcing the walls and adding ventilation to prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide.
  • Permits are required before constructing an underground bunker or shelter. Depending on the location, local building codes may not allow underground structures. It is important to check with local authorities before proceeding with the project.
  • The cost of burying a shipping container can be much higher than constructing a traditional above-ground tornado shelter.
  • There may be limitations on the size of the shipping container that can be buried, depending on the equipment used to excavate the hole and the strength of the surrounding soil.
  • Overall, burying a shipping container for a tornado shelter is possible but requires significant preparation and planning. It is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding if this option is right for you and your family’s safety.

    The Risks of Burying Shipping Containers for Tornado Shelters

    Tornadoes are a force of nature that can cause significant structural damage and put human lives at risk. Tornado shelters are an effective solution to protect people from the ferocity of the storm. A shipping container could seem like an ideal option for a shelter, but burying it underground could pose risks.
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    The risks are multifaceted – from the possibility of the sides of the container collapsing under the pressure to the expense and difficulty of making the necessary structural modifications to bury it. In this article, we will explore these risks and the drawbacks of using a shipping container as a tornado shelter.

    Why Shipping Containers are not Ideal for Burial

    Shipping containers may seem sturdy enough to withstand considerable force, but they are not designed for burial. Shipping containers are primarily made to withstand the stress of long and harsh journeys at sea. As a result, they are built to support the weight of cargo stacked on top of them – not the weight of earth pressing against them. When you bury a shipping container in the ground, you put it under tremendous pressure, which can cause the sides of the container to buckle. It can even lead to the roof collapsing under the weight of the earth. The structure of a buried container can also be compromised, leading to leaks, rust, and other forms of corrosion.

    The Effects of Earth Pressure on a Buried Shipping Container

    The earth’s pressure on a shipping container buried underground can cause it to deform, twist, or even collapse. The amount of soil that’s piled on top of the container affects the amount of pressure exerted on the walls and roof. The buried container could also be subjected to extensive wear and tear, which could lead to structural failure. The pressure varies depending on factors like soil type, depth of burial, and weather. It can be quite inconsistent and unpredictable. Given the lack of consistency in earth pressure, it’s not ideal to rely on a shipping container as a tornado shelter.
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    Necessary Structural Modifications for Burial

    If you’re planning on using a shipping container as a tornado shelter, you must make several structural modifications before burying it. These modifications will strengthen the container and make it more resistant to the pressure of the soil. Here are some structural modifications that need to be carried out:
    • Additional Steel Reinforcement: Adding extra beams around the corners can reinforce the container’s structure.
    • Waterproofing: You must waterproof the container to prevent rust and corrosion.
    • Drainage: The bunker must have proper drainage to prevent water from leaking into it and causing problems.
    • Entrance and Exit: A proper entrance and exit must be built, along with an air vent, to ensure a fresh air supply.
    These modifications can be expensive, and their effectiveness is still in doubt. The modifications that you make might not be enough to protect the structure from the pressure of the earth, leading to additional expenses and risks.

    Drawbacks of Container Storm Shelters

    Using a shipping container as a tornado shelter has several drawbacks. Here are some of the drawbacks to consider before choosing a shipping container as a bunker:
    • Cost: Building a shipping container bunker is expensive and requires significant modifications before it can be buried.
    • Size: Shipping containers are not very large and might not provide sufficient space for a family cluster, depending on the number of occupants.
    • Difficult Burial Process: It is challenging to bury a shipping container and requires special equipment and a considerable amount of work.
    • Construction Limitations: The structure of a shipping container cannot accommodate critical elements, such as a staircase, electrical and plumbing installations, and air conditioning. Thus, it may not be the best fit for a comfortable and well-equipped tornado shelter.
    • Questionable Effectiveness: Since shipping containers were not designed for underground use, their effectiveness in a tornado is questionable, and there’s a risk of serious injury or death in particularly harsh storms.
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    Alternatives to Shipping Containers for Tornado Shelters

    Given the drawbacks of shipping containers, it’s essential to explore alternatives. One alternative is to use a prefabricated or modular shelter manufactured specifically for this purpose. These shelters are designed to withstand strong winds and flying debris. Delivery and installation are also much quicker and easier. You can also add plumbing and electrical equipment and even a generator for more comfort, safety, and convenience. Conclusion: While shipping containers may seem like a viable option for a tornado shelter, they are not the ideal or safest choice. The risks associated with burying a shipping container far outweigh the benefits. Anyone seeking protection from tornadoes should explore alternatives to shipping containers, such as prefabricated or modular shelters. These shelters are designed specifically for this purpose and can provide a safer, more effective, and more comfortable option than shipping containers.

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