Columbia business builds personal storm shelters

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COLUMBIA - Boone County does not have a storm shelter, but one Columbia company can build one in your backyard.

After the devastating tornado hit Joplin four years ago, Precision Precast started building storm shelters for people in mid-Missouri. Their storm shelters look like safe deposit boxes dug into the ground and big enough to hold entire families. The vaults made of concrete can withstand up to 5,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. The steel doors pass windborne debris tests of 250 miles per hour.

University of Missouri Extension lists storm shelters and safe rooms throughout the state. But Tom Fuhrman, an MU Extension housing specialist, said building one large space for lots of people to travel to during a storm may not be the most practical idea.

"The community would be wise to have, if they were to do this, several designated smaller centers in neighborhoods where people could come to be safe. But all too often in a tornado warning, you really don't have time to even get a couple of blocks, so I think the best plan is to shelter in place if at all possible," Fuhrman said.

Fuhrman said if people are inside when severe weather hits, they should stay in the innermost section of the lowest level of the building. If people cannot get inside, he said finding a ditch and lying down flat is the safest option.

Fuhrman is scheduled to host a storm preparedness class for 5:30 p.m. on May 26 at the MU Family Impact Center.