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Are Shipping Container Homes Safe In Tornadoes?

Shipping containers are naturally strong. They are purposely manufactured to be robust and durable. They are designed to carry heavy loads through extreme weather both on land and at sea.

Its durability is one of the reasons why homeowners choose it as their home. It helps them save money by investing in a home that could last for years yet is cheaper compared to traditional homes.

The robust structure of shipping container homes is what influences homeowners living in earthquake and hurricane-prone areas to build this type of home for their safety.

Container homes are also a good choice when considering possible house break-ins in rural areas. They need an explosive to break, so it is safer than the typical house structures.

But what about tornadoes? Can shipping containers withstand tornadoes?

Are Shipping Containers Homes Safe From Tornadoes?

Protection in a tornado is vital to survival. Your family, friends, and possessions have to be in a safe, reliable place that could withstand the high winds and flying debris that tornado creates.

While shipping containers are intended to withstand the storms and waves while on the sea, shipping containers are not totally safe from tornadoes.

First of all, let’s take a look at what we are against - it’s a tornado.

Tornados don't behave like a common weather threat. The average speed of a tornado is 30mph. But they can range from 0 to 70mph. They strike differently from fire, thunderstorms, or even a high wind storm. All of which generally have "local" damage.

Tornados do most of the damage around 10 feet above the ground. Tornados pick things up and throw them far. Once a tornado is inside a structure, it does a lot of damage.

Best Places To Wait Out A Tornado

Whatever type of house or building you are in, there are ways on how you can secure yourself and your family from a tornado.

1. Underground

You can go to an underground or basement with no windows. Tornadoes can get inside the windows and start to wreak havoc.

2. Indoors 

If you can't get to a basement, go indoors under the most secure part of the building that you can find as long as it is away from any windows. You can be under the stairs, in a small bathroom, or in a bathtub

3. Interior hallway of the school

If you are in a school, go to an interior hallway away from the windows.

4. Out of the mobile home

If you are in a mobile home, it is best to get out. Since it is a mobile home, it is not that heavy and strong to withstand the strength of tornadoes. Run somewhere safer to hide.

How To Make Your Shipping Container Home Safe

Even though the durability of shipping container homes is decreased when some parts are removed for windows and doors, it is still one of the most coveted housing alternatives. People love shipping container homes not only for their sturdy structure and cost but also for their uniqueness.

If you want your shipping container home to be safe especially from tornadoes, here are a few things you can do.

1. Retain the original form

If you build the container home for a safe spot when typhoons or tornadoes hit your place, you can opt to retain its original form. Standard steel shipping containers don’t have windows which means that the tornado can’t come inside and start doing damage. In addition, shipping containers are factory equipped with heavy, strong doors that can withstand a lot of disastrous events.

2. Position windows and doors behind the original container doors

If you want to have a totally safe container home, you can design your container home in a way that your windows and doors are positioned behind the original shipping container doors. This allows you to keep the original structural integrity and durability of the shipping container.

With this kind of design, you retain the ability to lock the original doors of your shipping container should you need to leave home. This is an appealing aspect if you are going to have it as a secondary home that will be vacant occasionally.

3. Build concrete footings and anchor each corner to the ground

To secure the shipping container to the ground, the best solution would be to build concrete footings and anchor each corner of the container to the ground.

Shipping containers are provided with corner castings that enable them to be tied to one another. For our tornado scenario, the container could be fastened to the concrete footing.

You can also bolt them down to secure them to the ground. In this way, your home would be able to withstand the sudden pressure changes of tornadoes.

But even without bolting the shipping containers down, they can withstand high winds and storms. Unsecured and standing alone, they can handle winds of up to 100mph.

4. Partially bury the shipping container

To retain the shipping container above the ground, the best solution is to partially bury the container, pushing the soil partway up the sides, creating a berm. The berm can help reduce the surface area and prevent the container from being picked up by the tornado and tossed.

5.  Bury the shipping container entirely

If you want your shipping container home to be really safe from tornadoes, the most extreme notion would be to bury it entirely.

However, burying a shipping container is not as easy as digging a hole then dropping it in. Burying a shipping container will require more work and could be costly. Furthermore, you also need to reinforce the walls to prevent them from collapsing.

Isn’t A Shipping Container Home The Same As A Mobile Home?

Are Shipping Container Homes Safe in Tornadoes

 Image Source: Shutterstock

While a shipping container home can be a mobile home, they are not essentially the same. 

A mobile home can be made up of a wood or aluminum frame resting on a steel frame. Its sides are typically vinyl siding while its top is a standard trussed roof with asphalt shingles.

A shipping container home is a steel frame from top to bottom with single sheets of steel on each side. While it can be modified, it can withstand the tornado better.

When it comes to possible tornado attacks, a typical mobile home is weaker compared to shipping container homes securely attached to the ground.


If you want your shipping container home to withstand all sorts of calamities, you need to properly prepare the container. Dropping the shipping container home directly to the ground just isn’t enough.

You have to secure your shipping container by building up the ground around the container, anchoring it down with concrete footings, and making sure everything is done to a professional level.

The safety and security of your shipping container home are amplified further if you fasten it to a foundation. If properly secured, your home can take wind speeds of even up to 175 mph.

Even if you live in a place with severe weather conditions, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, you can rest assured that your shipping container home is able to withstand the calamities as long as they are securely attached to a strong foundation.