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Thread: School Bus Storm Shelter

  1. #1
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    Default School Bus Storm Shelter

    So I've been browsing around and saw where a few people online have used old school buses as underground shelters. It seems as if the tornado activity here in AL has really been ramping up in the past few years. Currently we seek shelter in our basement which is underground. However, I would definitely trust a dedicated storm shelter over my basement. We've tossed around the idea of burying a bus somewhere on our property to use as a storm shelter. In the sake of saving money I came up with the idea of using a "short bus"() since it would cost less both for the bus itself and for someone to dig a hole to put it in.

    Whether or not my family will ever do something like this is unkown, but I figured I'd post this on here to see if anyone else has ever done something like this

    Can anyone give any special considerations to take with doing something like this? If I ever did something like this I wouldn't have it buried super deep in the ground, I'd probably only have it about a foot or so deep. Would a cargo van or camper van also work?

    Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

  2. #2
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    If you're talking about a temporary tornado shelter, then yes, it'd work. However, I think there are some additional issues such as access, drainage, moisture, and adequate ventilation that the underground bus fail to address. Let's just pretend there's a twister headed for that trailer park (yes, it IS cliche), and everyone scurries down into the bus. Then said storm arrives and blows a trailer over on top of it....as in on top of the single access door and the two vents. Air circulation is shut off with X number of people in a confined space and they're all yelling for help...how long do you think that's going to last?

    I much prefer the designs I saw near at and near a friend's house out near Madison Co. Lake. The area is naturally hilly, so what they did was scoop out a section of a hill, dig in a french drain, and build a cinder block shelter, and re-laid the hill on top and around it. The door is a ship's bulkhead door set into concrete and there's a rabbit hole exit to one side. That takes advantage of natural geography and most importantly doesn't require climbing down a ladder in storm conditions. They basically built a hobbit hole (with emergency exit) before it was popular to do so.
    Last edited by twinoaks; 03-04-2012 at 10:23 AM.
    Esse Quam Videri , Semper Paratus , My Karma ran over your Dogma.

  3. #3
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    Default

    What I was thinking of was burying the bus as a sort of "hobbit hole" shelter. I know that video shows it having a hatch but I was thinking that if I did this I would bury it and have a sort of ramp leading down to the rear emergency door. Then I'd modify that so it could swing inwards to prevent debris from keeping it closed.

    It would be kind of like this except the roof would be underground as well and there would be at least 2 air vents.

    That would take care of some of the issue of getting trapped and not having enough air. Waterproofing could be done with some heavy duty plastic or tarps. I'd also reinforce the exposed end of it more than what this picture shows.
    Last edited by BamaPrepper; 03-04-2012 at 02:01 PM.
    Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

  4. #4
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    I should have been more specific when I mentioned 'moisture'. Seeing as how you're in 'Bama, you've GOT to be familiar with high humidity. Unless you have some sort of forced air circulation (a solar powered unit may be enough) I think you'll see fairly impressive condensation on the interior of the bus. Moisture + dark can and probably will lead to mold/mildew. I'm not saying it wouldn't work at all, but I DO think there are a lot of considerations before you take on that project, and that there's probably some more cost effective options. For example: will you have to answer to the EPA for essentially burying a vehicle? Did you completely drain all fluids, remove gas tank, remove tires,etc., etc. I'm just playing devil's advocate here, so please don't take any offense.
    Esse Quam Videri , Semper Paratus , My Karma ran over your Dogma.

  5. #5
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    Oh, no offense taken. Like I said, this is something I will probably never do but I thought I'd post about it on here and see if anyone else had any experience with something like this. I was mainly just throwing some ideas around since I found this interesting.

    The thing that I would be more likely to do is retrofit a storm shelter under the stairs that lead into my basement. The staircase is anchored to the wall and foundation that are underground. I've found some plans for a basement storm shelter that I think could be modified to work underneath a staircase. This would basically entail reinforcing the structure of the staircase with double layers of plywood. I'm not worried about getting blown/sucked out or having things driven through the shelter, I'm mainly wanting to guard against debris that might land in the house. I feel fairly safe now with huddling the corner of my basement since I'm underground, but another added layer of protection can't hurt.
    http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Pr...-storm-shelter
    I can't seem to post a picture on here, but these are the plans I'd most likely use.
    Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Default

    I have actually thought of something similar to this, but with trailers. There is a trailer park about two towns over that always has them for sale. I don't have alot of land, but I have enough that with a big enough hole, and some reinforcing to prevent it from being crushed, would make a decent shelter. With the right ventilation, and already built for water and electric hookup, it could potentially work.

    Dig a hole, sink it in, run some lines for water, electric, drainage, and the like. Build some reinforcement around it, perhaps cinder block or something comparable. Make sure you have ventilation, and at least two ways to get in or out, you could be pretty relaxed in a bad storm.

    And from what a guy was telling me, some of these trailers can be picked up for less than $1k. Not the fanciest bug out shelter. But assuming you could source some of the material, and knew what you were doing, it might only cost a few thousand.

  7. #7
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    you don't want to use a trailer, those things have no support at all, anything happens and the walls collapse.

  8. #8
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    BM Stay away from the cargo van and camper van. A school bus is re-inforced and much stronger even if it is a short bus. Many also have a escape hatch at the top that could be modified for use. Next time we meet ask me how I know.
    An old West Virginia Hillbilly saying:
    You can't get the water to clear up, until you get the pigs out of the creek.

  9. #9
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    The bus actually solves a lot of problems for someone who would otherwise be building from scratch. The bus is naturally up off the ground, leaving a cavity below to allow for better drainage away from the structure; it's weather resistant; comes with two doors (three if you find a newer model with the emergency hatch); and it can bear some load (it's built to withstand a rollover). As a tornado shelter, this is a good call. The photo that BamaPrepper posted covers your door issues, as it appears the same thing is done in the front. All you'd need to do is board up those windows and you'd be good to go.

    Underground structures in this day and age are only useful to protect yourself from storms. They are not defensible (go hunt groundhogs/prairie dogs/gophers and then come and argue with me), and they will not protect you from bombs or air strikes as most munitions can strike deeper than you can afford to dig. Keep that in mind.
    I N O M N I A P A R A T U S

  10. #10
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    There was a guy who built a huge underground bunker out of school buses right here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ark_Two_Shelter

    What he did was take 42 bus shells and covered them with concrete. Then installed a well, septic system, and all that jazz. The bunker was recently on "Doomsday Preppers". It was far from impressive. But that doesn't mean it is entirely a bad idea.

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