Collapsible shelter offers big protection for severe weather, intruder situations

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. - When tornados strike, homeowners look for protection. Since the massive EF-5 tornado hit Moore, Okla., on Monday, companies that make shelters have answered a lot of calls -- including a company in Missouri.

Staying Home Corporation ( in Harrisonville, Mo., has been designing a shelter since last summer that collapses for storage and expands when needed.

The Hide-Away Shelter was tested at the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech. A video the company released shows a 2x4 being shot at the unit at the same speeds it would have in an EF-5 tornado.

The shelter took several hits, and in most cases the boards shattered. One left a dent, but that is acceptable according to industry standards.

"This was our deepest dent, and it was only three-quarters of an inch," said Mike Vogt, president of Staying Home Corporation.

He and his team in Harrisonville have been working on the design since last summer. After the deadly tornado in Oklahoma, he said wait lists are forming for the Hide-Away Shelter.

It stands at only 17 inches deep while not in use and expands to 21 square feet inside. 

"This one is big enough for eight adults, or we could put fifteen kids in this one," said Vogt.

To open the shelter, two people pull down on a lever on each side. It takes about three seconds, and is easy to do for most ages. Once you get inside, locking the door is simple, too. It has to be secured to a concrete slab at least 4 inches deep, according to Vogt.

"The anchor bolts would permanently go in there, so once the shelter is in place it would never move," he said.

But these shelters can also be made from a bullet-proof steel that makes them safe rooms in the event of a gunman.

"'We've been told by some state and even federal officials that they think this is the answer schools have been looking for to protect the kids," Vogt said. "They believe the solution for what occurred at Sandy Hooke and for what occurred even down at Moore this last week, that this would have taken care of both situations and would have protected the children in both cases." 

The company plans to start producing the collapsible shelters at the Harrisonville plant within the next three to four weeks.

All the materials are American-made.

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