Your Guide to Shipping Container Storm Shelters




The United States experiences around 1,000 tornadoes every year. These events not only contribute to devastating property damages but the loss of life, as well. Shipping container storm shelters are an increasingly popular solution for protection against natural disasters. Check out the information below to learn more about how shipping containers can help keep you safe.

storm shelter tennessee.jpg
Storm debris strewn across the streets of Central Tennessee after tornadoes touched down in and around Nashville on March 2, 2020.

How to Build a Shipping Container Storm Shelters

People are turning to shipping containers as emergency shelters for protection in the event of a natural disaster. Though the process is simpler and less expensive than other kinds of survival bunkers, there are certain preparations that must be made. Review the following steps to learn how to incorporate shipping containers into your emergency preparedness plan.
You can also check out this article to learn more about shipping containers and their diverse uses.
hurricane laura disaster relief

Think About Your Dimensions

The first thing you want to think about when creating a storm shelter is dimensions. Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, so take into account the amount of space allotted for your storm shelter. You should also factor in how many people and/or supplies it needs to hold. Clearly, larger groups will want to invest in a larger shipping container or even multiple shipping containers.
If you want to learn more about shipping container dimensions, click here.

Reinforce the Structure

Structural integrity is paramount when converting a shipping container into a storm shelter. Shipping containers are designed to be stacked, so they bear more weight on the corner posts than on the sides. Therefore, you'll need to reinforce the walls to make sure your shelter will withstand the force of storms and other natural disasters.

Set Your Foundation

Strong winds, moving water, and shifting earth can all potentially be forceful enough to move or even damage even the strongest steel shipping containers. To help prevent this, you should start with a concrete foundation to station your storm shelter in place.

Set up Your Interior

Once you've secured the exterior of your shipping container storm shelter, it's time to focus on the interior. You'll want at least some seating, so that everyone can rest comfortably. If you anticipate being holed up for longer periods of time, you can look into other kinds of accommodations.
Shipping container shelters can be outfitted with LED lights, so everyone will be able to see where they're going even during blackout conditions. LED lights last a long time and don't give off any heat, reducing the possibility of anyone accidentally burning themselves by getting too close.
The next step is to focus on stocking your storage container with essentials, including food, water, a first aid kit, and blankets. Make sure to have a plan in place in case anyone relies on daily medications.
mobile modular portable storage storm shelters.pngmobile modular portable storage storm shelters

Benefits of Container Storm Shelters

Converting a shipping container into a storm shelter offers many positives. Their heavy steel construction provides safety and a secure hideaway to protect against unwanted entry.
Incredibly durable, shipping containers are designed to withstand harsh elements and can house thousands of pounds of product. They are also strong enough to support that same amount stacked on top of them.
Cargo containers can also provide further protection to anyone inside from inhaling dust and other dangerous forms of debris. Widely accessible, you can get shipping containers delivered to your door within days of placing your order.
Shipping containers are also available in different sizes, which will be important to individuals looking to prepare a survival shelter for a large group or a larger amount of supplies. You can also stack or attach multiple shipping containers to create a larger structure with multiple rooms.

Drawbacks of Container Storm Shelters

The decision to create a shipping container storm shelter largely depends on what kind of protection you're seeking. For instance, if you're looking for an underground shelter, you should probably consider other alternatives.
Shipping containers are not meant to be buried. If placed underground, the pressure the earth exerts on the sides could damage the structure. A shipping container bunker would require several structural modifications before it could be buried.
Another critical consideration is that most containers come with a single set of doors. It is generally recommended that shelters have two entry points, in case one entry becomes blocked. Additionally, these doors lock from the outside, necessitating the installation of a secondary door or roof hatch to make the shipping container a safe, functional shelter.
High winds, moving water, shifting ground, and other weather events potentially have the strength to move even the heaviest, sturdiest of containers if they’re not stationed in place properly. Though important, a foundation can be a costly process.

Work with Mobile Modular Portable Storage

Mobile Modular Portable Storage is committed to providing each of our customers with a portable space solution that exceeds expectations. We deliver quality portable storage solutions to meet your specific needs with a level of individual service that inspires confidence. We pride ourselves on being the best in the market and in creating great customer experiences.
If you're interested in learning more about storm shelters or other shipping container uses, call us at 866.459.7600. Our experts are available to chat about your specific space needs. You can also get a quote by filling out this form. Leave your name, email, and phone number, and someone will reach out shortly!


How much wind can a shipping container withstand?

According to the standards of the rigidity test, shipping container tornado shelters can withstand wind speeds of 180 mph without wavering.

Is it safe to bury a shipping container?

It is only safe to bury a shipping container if you make the appropriate modifications to its exterior. The roof will need to be reinforced to support the extra weight of the earth above. You'll also need to make sure it's insulated and airtight so that no airborne contaminants can get inside. This will also prevent mold from spreading and protect those inside from a host of respiratory issues.

How do you reinforce an underground shipping container?

Steel shipping containers are not designed to be buried. To be placed underground, they must go through several modifications. The walls and roof will have to be reinforced to prevent the pressure of the surrounding earth from damaging the container. You'll also need to lay a foundation and install a secondary door or roof hatch to transform the shipping container into a usable shelter

How safe is a shipping container during a tornado?

A shipping container dug into the ground as a tornado shelter will be able to withstand the force of a tornado, as will most underground structures. You'll need to weld x-braces on in order to support the weight of the dirt pushing into the walls and ceiling.
Loading Conversation