Shipping Containers as Storm Shelters



Over recent years, the sturdy steel shipping container has become an integral part of disaster management. Built to be durable and portable, steel shipping containers are an ideal starting point for constructing a storm shelter.


Although XCaliber Container does not construct storm shelters from our steel shipping containers, we are happy to provide you with a high-quality container to get your project started.


Reasons for those to consider a shipping container storm shelter include living in hurricane-prone regions and/or areas with large quantities of tropical storms and tornadoes. Steel shipping containers are manufactured to withstand wind, rain, snow, and ice! These units can easily endure up to 150mph winds, and this is why many hurricane-prone communities are turning towards the shipping container for safety.


Traditionally, storm shelters are constructed underground but transforming shipping containers to above-ground storm shelters has been increasing in popularity as making an underground shelter out of a shipping container is possible, but not as simple. Cargo containers are designed to be stackable and to bear weight on the corner posts, but they are not intended to withstand large pressure from the sides. With all aspects considered, it is important to determine if an above-ground or underground shipping container storm shelter would work best for your needs and region.



 Discover a wide range of shipping containers at XCaliber Containers!





An underground shipping container storm shelter comes with the advantages of being out of the elements, and the safest place to be in the event of a tornado — considering that most tornado damage happens 10 feet from the ground. If you find yourself drawn to the idea of having an underground shipping container storm shelter, here are a few things to keep in mind about your unit.


Suppose a 20ft shipping container weighs around 5,000lbs and is built to carry approximately 60,000 lbs of cargo while stacked nine boxes high. You would think that it is a strong enough structure to withstand the weight of being buried, right? Sadly it is not that simple. A container's strength is in the solid steel framing, not in the corrugated steel side walls. If the container is buried with no interior and exterior reinforcement, it will more than likely collapse or cave in over time.


Buried cargo container storm shelters also require ventilation, so you will also need to figure out how to properly vent the storm shelter while underground. Buried storm shelters may also have issues with moisture build-up. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep moisture out of the cargo container shelter, such as placing pouches of silica beads in the corners to suck up the moisture.


Shipping containers are built from corten steel, also known as "weathering" steel. Corten steel is a rust-resistant steel alloy and is usually combined with rust-resistant paint designed to hold up against harsh weather. The shipping container's doors should seal to be wind and watertight to make sure they can successfully contain the cargo inside. With this in mind, underground steel shipping container storm shelters are an option, but they require more maintenance and effort to make your storm shelter dream a reality.


With ample space, storage containers can be repurposed as underground storm shelters.




Although underground storm shelters are more popular, an above-ground steel shipping container storm shelter is often a better choice. Unlike an underground storm shelter, they do not have issues with moisture build-up and require less maintenance. Most underground storm shelters have stairs, which is not needed with an above-ground shelter, making above-ground shelters ideal for easier access and maintenance.


When setting a shipping container up as a storm shelter, you need to make sure the container is secured to the ground. (Steel shipping containers have various places on them that can be utilized as tie-downs.) One option is to place sturdy anchors in concrete and use a steel cable to cinch the shipping container down. That will keep the storm shelter stable and able to endure high wind speeds.


Regardless if above ground or below, constructing a shipping container storm shelter will require a deal of planning and research to make sure it serves its purpose in the event you have to use it.


Our 20' Standard New Steel Shipping Container boasts a sturdy build, ensuring stored items remain safe from the elements - ideal for an above-ground shelter.


Although XCaliber Container does not construct storm shelters from our steel shipping container, we are happy to provide you with a high-quality container to get your project started.

Call us today or request a free quote.


📞 (940) 242-3178


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