As severe thunderstorms continue to pound our region, Marshall County Emergency Management has issued a reminder of a service intended to assist with the safety of residents. While storm shelters/safe rooms are intended to keep people safe, they can, in the right instances, become an entrapment--necessitating the need for the 'storm shelter registration.'
Marshall County Emergency Management Director Curt Curtner said many storm shelters are either built or installed underground with one exit and one small opening which provides oxygen. He noted that strong winds sometimes push down large trees and tornado winds are able to pick up and throw motor vehicles--both of which could block the sole exit and destroy the apparatus which brings fresh oxygen into the enclosure. He also noted many of the shelters are made of metal, which often means little to no cell service inside--disabling the ability to call for help.
"If a large storm hits Marshall County and we know trees are down and there's large debris blown around in a specific area, we can go check the storm shelters to make sure everyone got out okay," he said. "We want to be able to help protect your family and we want to find them before it's too late to help. If we know where to look, that cuts way down on the time they're trapped, which could be the difference in life or death."
Curtner said the database which contains the information regarding where the storm shelters are located in the county is only accessible by his department, which includes one other person, and is only referenced if a disaster impacts the county. He said the information is kept confidential.
Registration is simple: provide the owner's name(s), phone number, location and description of the shelter to the MCEM. Afterward, Curtner and/or his assistant, Darlene Lynn, will conduct a visit to ensure the information is as accurate as possible.