An Underground Home For Safety
The concept of underground homes has actually been around for thousands of years. Our ancient ancestors often used caves to live in, at least during the winter months (contrary to accepted wisdom, these people actually lived in tents in the caves). Other people, usually those living in hot climates have either burrowed into rock faces or dug beneath the surface to provide cooler accommodations. The present day Australian town of Coober Pedy is about one third below the surface to escape the hellish 125 F summer temperatures. However, underground homes have several other advantages when it comes to dealing with tornadoes, earthquakes, or other disasters.
Underground homes are considerable stronger than conventional above ground homes. They are usually constructed of reinforced concrete, which is sometimes mixed with fiberglass for extra strength. Although many people think a hillside is necessary for the construction of an underground home, it is also possible to build one on a flat stretch of ground. The shell is put up and then dirt is just piled over and around it.
When a tornado makes a direct hit on a frame home, there is generally nothing left afterward but a pile of rubble. Even a house that has been anchored to the foundation and has hold down straps on it will be unable to withstand the full force of this storm. However, an underground house will be basically untouched by the tornado – the winds simply will not be able to destroy it as the funnel will pass over the mound covering the home .
People who are interested in underground homes will often be concerned about the safety of an underground home during an earthquake.However, as these homes are made from reinforced concrete, they are able to withstand the shaking and shifting much better than an above ground home. If anything, the underground home will tend to move with the surrounding earth, and be able to return to its normal position after the quake as passed.
Some sections of the country are subject to wildfires, especially during a dry period in the summertime. These fires are greatly destructive of everything in their path and entire communities can go up in flames. Once again, an underground or earth sheltered home will prove to be the safe choice as the flames will merely pass over the home without doing any significant harm to it.
Earth sheltered homes will also provide protection from radiation, just like the old ‘fallout shelters’ of the 1950s and 1960s.
The loss of electric power can have serious consequences at almost any time of the year. During the winter, a power outage will generally mean that no heat is available for the duration of the outage. This can be a potentially serious problem as regards hypothermia. Likewise, a power outage during a heat spell can leave people with health problems vulnerable to heat stroke or dehydration. However, an earth sheltered house stays basically the same temperature year round, so losing electricity will not greatly impact the interior temperature of the home.