MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - In the wake of a tornado outbreak like the one that hit the Tennessee Valley on April 28, many people will take a closer look at buying a storm shelter.
There are some things you should know before signing a deal though, and WHNT News 19 is taking action to keep you informed.
First and foremost, make sure any shelter is engineered to the current Federal Emergency Management Agency standards. It should also have a third-party certification, preferably from the Texas Tech National Wind Institute.
As Kevin Holder, general manager at Supercell Shelters in Madison explained, "[The Texas Tech guys] basically take 2x4s and shoot them against different shelters."
That's a way of making sure shelters will withstand even the most powerful tornadoes - and live up to strength claims.
Another tip? Holder recommends checking in with the North Alabama Better Business Bureau.
"You wanna make sure the company you're buying a shelter from is reputable," Holder stressed, "Check with the BBB, see what [the company's] rating is, see what kind of complaints they've had."
Michele Mason, North Alabama Better Business Bureau president echoed Holder's advice, urging people to do as much research as possible before paying up.
Be wary of anyone who asks for full payment before the product is delivered and make sure to get everything in writing - don't just rely on sales pitch promises.
"Installing a shelter or a safe room is just like making improvements in your home," Mason said. "You want to make sure you have a written contract. That that contract clearly spells out what you're receiving."
For more information and resources to help you find a quality storm or tornado shelter, contact the North Alabama Better Business Bureau.