As natural disasters become more frequent and severe across the United States, you may be considering how to best protect yourself and your loved ones when the next storm hits. With traditional options like basements not always feasible, shipping container storm shelters have emerged as an innovative solution. Durable, portable and affordable, these steel shelters can provide life-saving refuge when you need it most. In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of using shipping containers for storm protection and how to choose the right one to meet your family’s needs. We’ll also provide tips on proper installation so your container shelter is ready to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws your way. With the right information, you can gain peace of mind knowing you have a safe place to weather the storm.

Affordable and Durable

Shipping containers are an affordable and durable solution for emergency shelter. Standard containers are made of corrugated steel and designed to withstand harsh weather conditions during transport, making them ideal for protection against high winds, flooding, and debris impact during natural disasters.

Used and Refurbished Options

You can purchase new or used shipping containers that have been refurbished to meet emergency shelter standards. Used containers tend to be more budget-friendly but still provide the level of protection you need in a disaster situation. Look for containers specifically rated as wind and watertight (WWT) or cargo-worthy (CW).

Customization Available

Shipping container storm shelters can be customized to suit your needs. You may add features like emergency exits, ventilation, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Some companies offer fully outfitted emergency shelter container units with sanitation systems, bedding, emergency supplies, and backup power generators.

Easy to Transport and Store

One of the biggest benefits of using shipping containers as storm shelters is that they are easy to transport and store. You can have the container delivered to your location and simply place it in your yard or bury it partially underground. When not in use, it takes up minimal space. You have the peace of mind of knowing you have an emergency shelter on hand in the event of a natural disaster, even if you never have to use it.

Shipping containers offer an innovative solution for affordable and durable emergency shelter. With the increasing severity and frequency of natural disasters, a shipping container storm shelter could provide life-saving refuge when you need it most. They are a smart investment in safety and security for individuals, families, and communities.

Why Choose a Shipping Container for Storm Protection?

Shipping containers offer a durable, cost-effective solution for emergency shelter and storm protection. Their steel construction withstands high winds and impact, providing a safe refuge during dangerous weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

Durability and Strength

Shipping containers are built to endure the rigors of international transport and cargo handling. Their corten steel shells can withstand winds up to 150 mph, far surpassing most building codes for residential structures. This strength and durability allows containers to provide near-absolute protection from debris and high winds.

Shipping container storm shelters

Affordability and Availability

Shipping containers represent an affordable option for storm shelters and emergency housing. Used containers can often be purchased for a few thousand dollars and outfitted as shelters. They are also readily available, with a large supply of used containers located throughout the country. This availability means that additional containers can be obtained quickly in the event of a disaster.

Customization and Storage

Shipping containers can be customized as emergency shelters with the addition of vents, doors, windows, and other features. Their box-like shape also provides ample storage space for emergency supplies, food, water, and other necessities. Multiple containers can even be joined together to create larger shelters for groups and communities.


Unlike traditional shelter options, shipping containers are mobile units that can be transported if residents need to evacuate an area. Empty containers are easily loaded onto trucks and hauled to new locations, providing shelter that can move with those who need it. Their mobility and durability allow shipping containers to serve as ideal options for both temporary and long-term housing solutions following a disaster.

In summary, shipping containers represent a uniquely well-suited solution for storm protection and emergency shelter. Their strength, availability, affordability, customization options, and mobility make them an excellent choice for weathering dangerous events. For these reasons, more and more people are turning to shipping containers as a pragmatic answer for disaster preparedness and response.

Shipping container storm shelters

Key Features of Shipping Container Storm Shelters

Shipping containers converted into storm shelters offer several advantageous features for protection during dangerous weather events. Their sturdy, reinforced steel construction provides structural integrity to withstand high winds, debris impacts, and flooding.

Wind Resistance

The corrugated steel walls and roof of shipping containers are rated to endure wind speeds of up to 150 mph, providing shelter even during powerful hurricanes and tornadoes. Their boxy shape also helps deflect wind forces around the structure. Properly anchored to concrete foundations, shipping container shelters remain stable even when buffeted by strong gusts.

Water Resistance

The fully-enclosed steel construction of shipping containers also offers water-tight protection from heavy rains, flooding, and storm surge. Their doors and any openings can be sealed to prevent water intrusion. Shipping container shelters can even be raised on concrete foundations or stilts in flood-prone areas. They provide dry, secure shelter when most needed during dangerous weather events.

Affordability and Portability

Relative to purpose-built storm shelters, repurposed shipping containers offer a budget-friendly solution. They can also be transported and re-installed in different locations as needed using container moving equipment. This portability allows them to be deployed for temporary emergency shelter or moved to new properties.


While intrinsically protective, shipping containers used as storm shelters often require customization for human habitation. This includes adding ventilation, insulation, lighting, seating, emergency supplies, and communications equipment. Container shelters can be outfitted to provide short-term or long-term refuge for individuals and communities during disasters and their aftermath. With some modifications, they serve as viable protective shelters in many weather emergency scenarios.

In summary, shipping container storm shelters leverage the inherent strengths of their materials and construction to provide disaster-resistant refuge. With some custom enhancements for habitation and emergency use, they offer a practical solution for protection during dangerous weather events. Used strategically, shipping container shelters can help communities become more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

Customizing Your Shipping Container Shelter for Any Natural Disaster

Structural Reinforcement

To ensure your shipping container shelter can withstand high winds, flooding or seismic activity during a natural disaster, structural reinforcement is essential. Welding additional corrugated steel sheets to the exterior, installing extra anchoring points, and reinforcing the flooring and any access points are recommended. You may also consider retrofitting the container with a reinforced steel frame for added protection. These modifications will help prevent the container from being lifted, shifted or crumbled during a disaster.

Emergency Supplies

Outfitting your shelter with emergency supplies in the event infrastructure is compromised is critical. Stock the container with food, water, a first aid kit, blankets, a radio, flashlights, batteries, a manual can opener and any important medications. For extended stays, also provide sanitation supplies like toilet paper, wet wipes, garbage bags, hand sanitizer and basic toiletries. Ensure any perishable items have a long shelf life and that you have supplies for all inhabitants.

Ventilation and Climate Control

Proper ventilation and temperature regulation are necessary for the shelter to remain habitable, especially during long-term use. Install vents, fans and an air conditioning unit to provide airflow and prevent overheating in hot weather. For cold conditions, include a space heater, insulation, weatherstripping and additional blankets. If possible, choose a container with vents and consider cutting additional openings to maximize airflow. Ensure any modifications do not compromise the structural integrity of the container.

A customized shipping container shelter, reinforced to withstand natural disasters and outfitted with emergency supplies and climate control, can provide effective protection during catastrophic events. With some modifications, these steel shelters can serve as a reliable refuge when disaster strikes. Working with a reputable supplier to source a container suitable for your needs and location is the first step to gaining peace of mind in uncertain times.

Shipping container storm shelters

Top Locations to Install Your Storm Shelter Shipping Container

Installing a shipping container storm shelter on your property is an important decision that requires careful consideration of the location. As a nationwide supplier of shipping containers, we recommend evaluating three key factors when determining where to place your shelter: accessibility, ground stability, and proximity to power lines.


The location you choose should allow for easy access to and from the shelter, especially during emergency situations. We recommend placing the shelter within a short walking distance from your home, preferably in your backyard. Avoid locations that would require traversing uneven or unstable terrain to reach the shelter. For the best accessibility, select a level area with few obstructions.

Ground Stability

Shipping container storm shelters require a solid, level foundation to ensure structural integrity. Loose soil or sand will not properly support the weight of the container and can lead to instability or even collapse under extreme conditions. Clay, concrete, or packed gravel provide ideal ground stability for a shelter foundation. If necessary, you may need to pour a new concrete pad to serve as the base for your shelter.

Proximity to Power Lines

As metal structures, shipping containers can conduct electricity and should be placed a safe distance away from overhead power lines. According to safety standards, shelters should be located at least 10 feet away from power lines for every 10,000 volts. Higher voltage lines require even greater distance. Burying power lines underground or rerouting them away from the shelter location may be necessary to ensure safety, especially in areas prone to high winds during storms.

By carefully evaluating accessibility, ground stability, and proximity to power lines when determining where to install your storm shelter shipping container, you can have peace of mind knowing your shelter will provide maximum protection when you need it most. With the proper precautions taken during installation and use, a steel shipping container can serve as a secure refuge from even the most powerful natural disasters.

Building Your Shipping Container Shelter to Withstand Natural Disasters

Structural Reinforcement

To ensure your shipping container shelter can withstand high winds, flooding, and debris impacts during disasters, structural reinforcement is essential. Welding additional beams to the interior walls and ceiling will strengthen the container. You should also consider installing reinforced doors and windows that meet or exceed wind-rated and impact-resistant standards for your area.

Anchoring the Container

Simply placing the shipping container on the ground will not provide enough stability during disasters. Anchor the container securely to a reinforced concrete foundation to prevent it from toppling over. Burying a portion of the container in the ground or attaching it to concrete footings with anchor bolts are two effective methods for anchoring. You should anchor the container according to the specifications for your local building codes and disaster requirements.

Equipping the Interior

Once your container shelter structure is reinforced and anchored, equip the interior to serve as an emergency shelter. Include emergency supplies like food, water, a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, blankets, a radio, and sanitation supplies. Install a ventilation system, electrical outlets, and interior lighting. You may also want to include a backup generator in case of power outages.

Testing and Maintenance

Regular testing and maintenance of your shipping container shelter is key to ensuring it will provide protection when disasters strike. Test your shelter at least once a year by assembling your emergency gear and supplies inside. Check that all parts including anchors, doors, windows, and the generator are functioning properly. Perform any necessary repairs or replacements immediately. Keep your shelter well-stocked and ready for use at all times in case of an unexpected emergency.

With the proper structural reinforcement, anchoring, equipment, and ongoing maintenance, a shipping container can serve as a durable shelter during many types of natural disasters. Following these important steps will help give you peace of mind that you have a safe space to weather emergency situations.

Shipping container storm shelters

Stocking Your Storm Shelter Shipping Container With Emergency Supplies

In order to maximize the utility of a shipping container as an emergency storm shelter, certain essential supplies should be stocked for any contingency. Food, water, and medical supplies are critical for sustaining life during what could be an extended stay in the shelter.


Non-perishable food with a long shelf-life, such as dried goods, canned goods, and ready-to-eat meals (MREs), should be stored. These include staples like rice, beans, oats as well as canned vegetables, fruits, soups, and meats. Comfort foods like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits can also boost morale. Aim for at least a 2-week supply of food for each person.


Potable water is essential for survival, so stock a minimum of one gallon per person per day. Large containers of bottled water are ideal, as well as packs of bottled water. As an alternative, fill and treat water containers and replace them every 6-12 months.

First Aid

A well-stocked first aid kit contains basic medicines, bandages, gauze, antiseptic, medical tools, and any important over-the-counter or prescription medicines. Be prepared to treat injuries like sprains, fractures, cuts, and wounds. Don’t forget essential hygiene items like toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

Tools and Supplies

Bring essential tools like a manual can opener, utility knife, flashlight, batteries, battery-powered radio, cash money in small bills, emergency blankets, duct tape, matches/lighters, basic toiletries, baby wipes, emergency tools, emergency blankets, maps of the area, emergency candles and anything else you may need.

Properly preparing your storm shelter shipping container with emergency provisions and supplies can provide peace of mind that you will be equipped to survive during and after a disaster. Stock up on essentials, plan for any scenario, and be ready to shelter in place for an extended period if necessary. Your life could depend on it.

Maintaining and Accessing Your Shipping Container Storm Shelter

To ensure your shipping container storm shelter remains accessible and functional in an emergency, regular maintenance and preparation are critical. You should inspect your shelter at least once a month and after any severe weather events. Check that the doors open and close properly and lubricate the hinges if necessary. Ensure the seal around the doors is intact to prevent water intrusion.

Inside the shelter, check that any supplies like food, water, first aid kits, flashlights and batteries are well-stocked and not expired. Run a test of any emergency generator or ventilation systems to confirm they are operational. It is also wise to conduct periodic drills with your family to practice accessing and securing the shelter efficiently.

When a disaster is imminent, closely monitor emergency alerts and warnings from local authorities. As soon as the order is given to seek shelter, grab your emergency supply kits and proceed directly to your shipping container. Unlock the doors and once everyone has entered, securely lock the doors behind you. Activate any ventilation, lighting or generator systems and remain in the shelter until the official all-clear is announced.

To maximize the protective capacity of your shelter, consider these recommendations:

• Choose a shelter with a high-strength steel construction and anchor it securely to concrete foundations to prevent shifting during high winds.

• Bury at least part of the container underground or cover it with earth for added structural stability and insulation.

• Install a reinforced entryway to prevent collapse and allow safe access.

• Add emergency escape hatches if possible and ensure adequate ventilation and emergency oxygen supply.

By conducting routine maintenance and preparation, your shipping container storm shelter can provide life-saving refuge during catastrophic events like hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. Following the guidance of local emergency management officials and accessing your shelter promptly can help ensure the safety of you and your family.

Shipping Container Storm Shelter FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered

As interest in shipping container storm shelters grows, you likely have many questions about their features, benefits, and options. Here, we address some of the most frequently asked questions to help you determine if a shipping container shelter is right for your needs.

Shipping containers provide a durable, protective enclosure during dangerous weather events like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Constructed of weathering steel, the corrugated metal boxes can withstand high winds and impacts. They are also watertight, protecting occupants and supplies from exposure to the elements.

How much protection do they offer? Properly installed shipping container shelters provide near-absolute protection during an EF5 tornado or Category 5 hurricane. They can be buried partially underground or anchored to concrete foundations for additional stability.

What sizes are available? We offer 20-foot and 40-foot shipping containers in one-trip (new) and cargo-worthy (used) conditions. The larger 40-foot option provides more spacious accommodation for multiple people and emergency provisions.

Are they customizable? Yes, shipping containers are highly customizable. You can add lighting, ventilation, seating, bedding, sanitation systems, communications equipment, emergency supplies, and more to create a fully functional shelter.

Are permits required? Permits and regulations for shipping container shelters vary in each municipality. We recommend checking with your local building department regarding specific requirements in your area before purchasing or installing a shelter. Proper anchoring and ventilation are typically required to meet safety standards.

Shipping container storm shelters provide economical, robust protection during dangerous weather events and other emergencies. For many homeowners and communities, they offer an ideal solution for peace of mind and safety. Please contact us to learn more about our shipping container options and how we can help you be prepared.


As we have seen, converting shipping containers into storm shelters is a viable solution to protect yourself and your family when disaster strikes. By following proper engineering guidelines and taking the necessary precautions, these shelters can provide life-saving refuge from tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events. Though not an option for everyone, shipping container storm shelters are durable, affordable, and customizable to suit your needs. Ultimately, the choice comes down to assessing your risk, budget, and ability to have one installed properly. But for those able to make it work, a shipping container storm shelter could mean the difference between life and death when the next big storm hits your area. Be proactive, do your research, and stay safe.

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