With deadly tornadoes in Texas and Arkansas and the official start to hurricane season, Mississippians are reminded of the devastation that we have seen in our state. More residents are looking to protect their families by purchasing storm shelters or adding building safe rooms attached to their homes. “We have seen an increase in consumers researching storm shelter companies from last year” says John O’Hara CEO of BBB serving Mississippi. “With a purchase of a product as important as a storm shelter, the consumer needs to do their homework.”Storm shelter buying tips:Which is better: above-ground or in-ground? When built properly, both perform well and can provide protection for you and your family. You may want to consider who will be using the shelter. Elderly people or people who have a difficult time moving may have trouble getting in or out of an in-ground shelter. Also, keep in mind that if you choose to build an above ground shelter that the door has the proper wind rating to withstand a direct hit from a EF-5 tornado.Make Sure Your Storm Shelter is Certified. The Wind Institute at Texas Tech not only tests and researches shelters, they also certify shelters. A certified shelter is tested to make sure it meets the standards to survive a direct hit from a tornado. Patrick Allen, owner of Storm Ready Shelters in Meridian says “People are buying storm shelters or putting doors on safe rooms that haven’t been properly tested”. “There are people that have a business and then decide to sell storm shelters or build safe rooms on the side,” Allen said “They don’t have any licensing requirements or have any testing done before they sell storm shelters.”Is There a Difference Between A Shelter in Your House and One in Your Backyard? The Texas Tech researchers say both safe rooms and shelters in your house are just as safe as a cellar or in-ground shelter in your backyard. However, they say inside is better. They say a cellar will keep you safe during a tornado, but research shows people put off taking shelter longer - sometimes even until the last minute - if they have to go outside. That delay can put you and your family at risk while trying to get to your shelter.You can view a list of shelters that have been tested on the Wind Institute’s website. http://www.depts.ttu.edu/nwi/research/DebrisImpact/downloads/Shelter_Above_Ground_June2013.pdf. For more frequently asked questions about storm shelters, check out this guide from the Wind Institute: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/nwi/research/inresshelter.php.Check with BBB First. We have a myriad of reports on online companies, but even if the company you are considering isn’t listed on our website, we can give you advice and industry tips to help you make a decision. To find reputable companies or contractors, consumers can go to bbb.org.