Bountiful emergency shelter a reminder to be prepared in case disaster strikes

Published: Monday, Sept. 23 2013 3:15 p.m. MDT

The main bedroom in the 32-foot condo edition emergency shelter is capable of holding a queen-size bed. The shelter is on display at Emergency Essentials in Bountiful.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

BOUNTIFUL — A bright yellow metal tube sitting in a parking lot at 70 S. 500 West is getting a lot of attention, and that’s the whole idea.

The emergency shelter is a reminder to everyone about the importance of having a household emergency plan, such as 72-hour kits, extra food and water, and other supplies in case disaster strikes.

"You're perfectly safe," said Emergency Essentials store manager Dawn Kaufman. "It's 100 percent self-contained, so (there's) water (and) power. It's all here ready to go for you."

The shelter, built by California company Atlas, is on display as part of National Preparedness Month, also known as Preptember.

The emergency shelter's main entrance hatch is often located directly under part of someone’s house or in the backyard so they can access it quickly and easily in case of an emergency, Kaufman said.

"The principle is to be underground," she said. "The hole that they dig is 20 feet deep, so the only thing that shows is two little air vents."

Entrance to the shelter is gained by climbing down a tunnel. A heavy steel door that is locked from the inside keeps the space secure. Once inside, the shelter resembles an RV, Kaufman said.

“We have four bunks. Each bunk has storage underneath, so there’s room for everybody’s things, and there’s storage on top,” she said.

The floor in the main living area has openings so people can store all of their supplies.

“They will hold several 55-gallon barrels of water,” Kaufman said. “You can run those down the length (of the floor), and along the sides, you can put all your food storage.”

The bright yellow behemoth also has a leather couch, entertainment center, refrigerator, full kitchen, a shower and a toilet.

There’s also a place for battery banks for times when someone may need to be off the grid.

The bedroom in the back of the unit also has a nuclear, biological and chemical air filtration system.

And for the times when it’s impossible for someone to get out the way they came in, there’s an emergency escape hatch.

Shelters such as the one on display at Emergency Essentials are fairly common in Midwest tornado areas and among members of survivalist groups. They range in price between $35,000 and $85,000. They can come fully furnished or empty so the buyer can furnish it the way they want.

Kaufman said the shelters have other uses too, such as a getaway in the mountains or wilderness.

"We have a lot of guys come in and say, ‘This would be a great man cave. I need this for hunting,'" she said.

Email: kmccord@deseretnews.com

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