Rita Chandler got a big wake-up call when she stepped outside her Norman house after the 2011 Blanchard tornado and found her yard littered with debris.
“It was enough to really shake me up,” said Chandler, who took the proximity of that deadly EF-4 twister as a sign that it was time to find a safer place to live.
She’s still in Oklahoma so there are no guarantees, but Chandler’s new house is farther north and closer to family — two factors that help with her sense of security — and it had a perfect spot for her to install a new Kevlar-lined shelter in the garage.
Her particular type of shelter, the Dupont Stormroom with Kevlar, installed locally by Oklahoma Storm Rooms LLC, will be among the shelters and safe rooms featured at the 2014 Home & Outdoor Living Show next weekend at State Fair Park.
Philip Slater, a residential contractor who took over Oklahoma Storm Rooms about a year and a half ago, said he’s eager to show the Dupont system to homeowners and homebuilders who are in the market for storm security ideas.
Show manager RaeAnn Saunders said that nearly 20 storm shelter companies will be exhibiting at the show March 21-23.
In addition to shelters, the show will feature storm preparedness education, offering show attendees information on how to build a disaster preparedness kit and develop an action plan for their family.
The American Red Cross will provide information about storm shelter grants and funding for homeowners trying to rebuild from last year’s storms.
Chandler’s shelter is an 8-by-10-foot room that now takes up one space in her three-car garage. It is drywalled on the interior and wired for cable TV.
“There’s room for my sister and niece” who live nearby, she said. And when it’s not in use during severe weather — that is, most of the time — “my niece thinks it’s a fun place to play.”
Like the other shelters Slater has been installing around central Oklahoma, Chandler’s is constructed of structurally insulated panels modified with a Kevlar layer that shields against the 250-mph flying debris that the most destructive tornadoes can launch.
“It’s a component system,” Slater said, that Chandler “could disassemble and move to another house if she wanted to.”
Slater, showing a sample of Kevlar — a soft, woven material no thicker than a sweatshirt — said it’s the same material used by the military to armor Humvees.
Chandler, an autism behavioral consultant, said that in addition to protecting family and friends, her shelter — with its 300-pound steel door and half-inch bolts anchoring it to the garage slab — acts as a vault for the paper medical records upon which her livelihood depends.
The Home & Outdoor Living show will feature more than 250 exhibitors answering questions and presenting ideas for home decor, gardening and landscaping.
An outdoor kitchen stage will offer live cooking demonstrations and showcase the latest in grilling technology.
The show, produced by Marketplace Events in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, will be open to the public from noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 22 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 23.
Adult admission is $9, with children ages 12 and under admitted free. For a $2 discount, tickets can be purchased online at www.homeshowokc.com or at the customer service desk at Buy for Less stores.
Moore residents will receive free admission all weekend by showing a valid Oklahoma driver’s license with a Moore address. Oklahoma teachers will receive free admission to the show on Friday only with their valid school ID.
To see a related video, scan the QR code below or go to NewsOK.com