Frequently Asked Questions

Shelter-In-Place Q&A

Live Q&A answering some of the most common questions about our bulletproof storm shelters. Leave a comment below.

Posted by Shelter In Place on Friday, April 6, 2018

How much do the shelters cost?

Because every school building is unique, and the needs of each school will vary, the only way to provide an accurate quote is to speak with one of our representatives who will provide a complementary safety assessment. Please see our pricing page for some general numbers to help you get a “ballpark” price.  For a more detailed quote, our representatives will review floor plans and take into account a number of factors, such as: campus population, student age, and typical classroom occupancies.  To schedule a safety assessment for your district or campus, please click here to schedule a phone call with a Shelter-In-Place representative.


I’m a small public school.  How can I possibly afford these?

As schools continue to face budget cuts, and rising supply costs, paying for our shelters can seem daunting. However, various financing options are recommended and have been used by schools, from public bonding, local taxes, private donations, corporate sponsorships, and working with the district’s local bank(s).  Please get in touch with us to learn more about the options.


Why are these shelters so expensive? 

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is “Why are these shelters so expensive?” Each shelter is made from multiple layers of hardened ballistic steel. This material has been field tested to withstand gunshots from every gun that has been used in a school shooting (exceeding the Level 8 UL standards for bulletproofing and security) as well as provides the structural integrity to withstand the forces and traumatic impact of up to an EF-5 tornado, 9.5 earthquake and category 5 hurricane force winds.  The shelters are truly the gold standard in protection against the worst of mankind and mother nature.

Do these shelters provide protection against more than active shooters?

Yes.  The shelters have been engineered to provide complete protection against EF-5 tornadoes, 9.5 Earthquakes, and Category 5 hurricane force winds, meeting or exceeding FEMA strength standards.


What do the shelters provide protection from?

The shelters have been engineered to stop bullets from handguns, and rifles (including ‘assault’ rifles, e.g., AR-15, AK-47, etc) and to protect against EF-5 tornadoes, 9.5 earthquakes, and category 5 hurricane force winds.


Do these shelters quality for FEMA Storm Shelter grants?

Not at this time.  While our shelters meet or exceed all of FEMA’s strength standards for a storm shelter, they do not meet FEMA’s space per occupant requirement and some other things like having a public restroom.  Our philosophy is slightly different than the traditional approach to storm shelters, as historically defined by FEMA.  Rather than having one centralized location where the entire student body evacuates, which could take 20+ minutes in some cases, we have chosen to design a solution that becomes part of the classroom, allowing students and teachers to find immediate safety.  Because of the increasing threat of active shooters – as well as tornadoes, and earthquakes – we believe that a sheltering solution should not require students and teachers to leave the room in order to find safety.  We build each shelter to fit the occupants of the classroom or common area room.  Our shelters are designed for short-term sheltering needs.  Research shows that the vast majority of mass shootings, tornadoes, and earthquakes are over within 10 minutes from beginning to end.  Our focus is to protect students and staff in that critical timeframe.

Doesn’t having a shelter in the classroom take up too much space?

Not really.  Because our safe rooms have excellent lighting, carpet, and padded benches, teachers use them on a daily basis as a quiet reading area or tutoring space.  So the space occupied by the safe room isn’t “lost” space.  Many teachers actually reward students with time in the “kid cave” for reading, or other school work.


Why put a shelter in every classroom and common area?  Can’t we just run to a common shelter?

The issue is time.  Simply put, it takes too much time to get hundreds of children and staff into a common area shelter.  From the time a tornado siren goes off, a tornado could be eminent within 0-2 minutes.  That means if it takes longer than about 60 seconds to seek shelter, you are at risk.  Many common area shelters are located in a separate building on a school campus – running outside during a tornado is a bad idea.  Even if the storm shelter is inside the building, chances are it takes too long to get every student and staff member into the shelter.

In the case of an active shooter or earthquake, there is NO warning.  It just starts.  In the vast majority of cases, the shooter enters the front door and starts shooting.  This means that, historically, from first shots fired until the first child is shot, your students and staff have 30-60 seconds to find shelter.  Most teachers are instructed to lock their doors, turn off the lights, and move away from the windows.  This is not adequate protection.  Having a safe room in the classroom allows every person in the room to seek immediate protection from shooters.  Some text about cameras, lights, and air ventilation.

The same goes for Earthquakes.  There is no warning before it starts.  Running to a common area shelter during an earthquake is not advisable.  In the case of Earthquake and even some tornadoes, FEMA’s recommendation is to “shelter in place”.  While this recommendation may be the best option at the time, it has still resulted in many casualties; casualties that could have been avoided with the protection of a Shelter-In-Place safe room.


Who installs the shelters?

The shelters are shipped and installed by Shelter-In-Place personnel.   Where possible, we also strive to work with local citizens, especially former soldiers and wounded warriors where possible, in the community to assist in installing the shelters.


Do the shelters come in different sizes?

The shelters are built in 18 inch panelized sections, therefore they can be designed to fit any classroom or common area. Typically, shelter designs are 1 sq. foot per child (elementary) 1.5 sq. feet per child (middle school), 2 sq. feet per child (high school).


Are the shelters fireproof?

The shelters do have excellent thermal characteristics.  However, based on legal council advice we can’t make any claims as to thermal or fire protection.  In the event of a fire, smoke and the lack of oxygen can be fatal.   The recommended protocol by authorities is to exit the building as quickly as possible.


What are the shelters made of?

Each shetler is built with multi-layered, hardened ballistic steel that has been tested with every gun that has been used in a school shooting, and then some. The shelters have been structurally engineered and certified in all 50 states to meet or exceed the FEMA strength standards for an EF-5 tornado, 9.5 Earthquake, and Category 5 hurricane force winds.


What’s the difference between the ‘square’ door model and the ‘angled’ door model?

Our patent-pending door comes in two different designs: Square and Angled. Both door designs open from the inside and can be securely locked from the inside. Access from a locked door can only be granted using a specially designed key. The “Angled” door design is recommended for classrooms as these make the shelters more inviting and save classroom floor space.


How are the shelters installed?

The shelter components are shipped from Shelter-In-Place directly to the school.  Our local crews will then assemble the shelters in each room, bolting the shelters down 6” into the building foundation.


Is there a built-in air filtration system?

Yes.  The built-in air filtration system circulates the air inside the shelter every 2 minutes, ensuring that occupants have fresh air while inside.


Is there backup power for the shelter?

Yes.  If power goes out, the backup battery will kick in.  Standard backup power lasts 1 hour but can be upgraded to larger batteries.


Why is there a security camera on the shelter?

The security camera and closed circuit TV monitor allow occupants to see what’s going on outside of the shelter.  This could be useful if someone needs to be let in, or if the occupants are waiting for first responders to let them know the coast is clear.


Why is there carpet inside the shelter?

This makes the shelter more inviting for students to use on a daily basis as a reading nook or private tutoring space.


How do students fit in such a small space?

Students enter into the shelter in a single file line, starting around the walls and gradually filling in towards the center.  The teacher is the last one in and closes and locks the door.


Why are there benches in the shelter?

Ideally, the shelters never have to be used during a crisis.  Having benches, carpet, and interior lighting makes for an inviting, comfortable space that can be used on a daily basis as a reading nook, or quiet tutoring/study space.


Can the shelters be painted to match my school colors?

Yes.  Well, sort of.  The shelters can be wrapped with a ‘vinyl wrap’ to match your school colors or an artwork design of your choice.  You can work with our design team to determine the best look for your shelters.



 Download the Shelter-In-Place Brochure.