We are weeks away from spring, which means tornado season is right around the corner. Some families are getting ready by shopping for a safe room.
At the Tulsa Home and Garden Show, there are quite a few shelters to choose from. The business Family Safe was the first to bring above-ground steel shelters to this show 18 years ago. Now they are one of many here as the industry changes.
With all kinds of features and upgrades, shopping for a safe room is kind of like shopping for a car. With 10 vendors at the Home and Garden show, buyers have a lot of options.
"This is my favorite because it has a lot of family friendly features," customer Stephanie Moore said.
Family safe owner Vince Nims designed his safe rooms with the Moore family in mind.
"One thing that always scared me is little kids getting their fingers in here, so [that's] one thing we have done …it doesn't hurt, it barely touches at all, it won't cut the fingers of the kids, it won't hurt the kids,” owner Vince Nims said.
Nims said in the late 90s, about 100 of these above ground shelters were sold in Oklahoma, now there are a few thousand a year.
"They have developed in features, products testing, certifications, the shelter industry is safer than ever, but there's also more variety then ever also," Nims said.
One of the newest companies is Tornado place, which opened up two years ago after owner Charlie Wilsey saw destruction from the EF5 tornado in Joplin.
"That was one of the reasons I started developing a different idea, a better panel that can be more versatile to use in people's home,” Tornado Place owner Charlie Willsey said.
He said the panels make his safe rooms stronger than the competition.
With all kinds of shapes, sizes and features to choose from, Nims said more competition only benefits the buyer.
"It's a great way to stretch the mind,” he said. “Creativity and stuff to bring things to the table, sometimes it works, it's a great idea, sometimes it's not."
Twelve-year-old Alex Moore thinks the Family Safe shelter would by a good fit for her family.
“These have already stood against tornadoes and our closet isn't as good as these," Moore said.
The owners all said, no matter who people buy a shelter from, the important thing is families are safe.