Enhancing Safety: Tornado Preparedness Starts with Safe and Innovative Construction Solutions

While spring is known for being the height of tornado season in the southern Plains, the storms affect thousands of people year-round.

Many precautions are taken during tornado season to keep people safe, and here at Boldt, tornado preparedness begins with innovative and strategic construction. This is especially true for all K-12 projects, which have seen an increase in storm shelter additions the past several years.

For decades, Boldt has specialized in planning and constructing above-ground storm shelters for schools. In fact, when an EF5 tornado destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School in May 2013 in Moore, OK, claiming the lives of seven students and several others, Boldt helped the district rebuild with tornado safety as its top priority.

Boldt constructed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grade storm shelters at Plaza Towers Elementary that can function as classrooms, media rooms, or gymnasiums. More than 800 people can occupy these shelters at once, and each shelter is reinforced with steel rebar, doors, plates and more. Above-ground shelters are also built to be more comfortable and accommodate HVAC systems and storage space.

“We’ve helped school districts and other clients determine the right storm precautions for their project, taking into account budget, building size and layout,” said Boldt Senior Director Tony Yanda. “Safety is at the heart of everything we do, and when building in states like Oklahoma, adding a storm shelter is worth consideration.”

Typically, storm shelter walls are constructed with concrete masonry units, cast-inplace concrete, insulated concrete forms, or pre-cast concrete. There are also a few options when it comes to securing building openings like windows or doors, so Boldt provides clients cost and constructability reviews. For example, in some instances FEMA-rated pre-manufactured windows with shutter systems are installed for greater protection in enclosed spaces. The result is a sturdy structure intentionally designed to withstand severe weather.

Today, safety precautions are becoming a critical element in construction planning discussions.

Boldt’s mission is clear: to provide comprehensive safety solutions that protect students, faculty and staff in educational institutions during storm seasons. Through close collaboration with clients in both the K-12 and commercial sectors, Boldt delivers reliable and safe solutions in the face of challenging environmental events.

While the unpredictability of tornadoes and other weather events can be catastrophic, steps can be taken to minimize their impact and keep more people out of harm’s way.

About The Boldt Company
The Boldt Company (Boldt) is a leading professional construction services firm with customers across the United States and is a subsidiary of The Boldt Group. Founded in 1889, Boldt is a fourth-generation family and employee-owned firm headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin. Boldt is recognized as a pioneer in Lean construction and in the industrialized construction space. Boldt operates 18 offices across the U.S. that serve customers in healthcare, power, industrial, education, automotive and commercial markets.