A box of hope


Artwork by Elana Bishop

An artwork display of what a Hide-Away Shelter would look like in a classroom.

Elana Bishop, Staff Writer

There have been more mass shootings than the number of days in 2023. According to ABC News, “About 12 shootings, one of which can be defined as a mass shooting, have occurred on K-12 school campuses so far this year, leaving at least 10 dead and a dozen injured,” according to the GVA and local reports “Though mass shootings don’t make up the majority of gun violence incidents in America, their impact on communities and victims is evident.”

A small company in Fort Pierce, Florida, National Safety Shelters, is stepping up to the situation to provide comfort and safety for students due to congress’s lack thereof. Although, these bullet-resistant steel enclosures are a controversial topic. The idea of crowding students into a bullet-resistant pod is obviously an alarming symbol of what our country has come to. According to The Guardian, “John Corrado, vice-president of National Safety Shelters, says the company sees its shelters as a response to an intractable problem.” 

The company was originally a mobility lift company, building equipment to assist disabled people. One of Corrado’s suppliers was a company that built above-ground tornado shelters in Missouri. After the shooting that took place in Sandy Hook in 2012, surrounding schools started to question alternate uses for tornado shelters. 

Then, in 2018, Corrado had a deep realization of what reality had come to when the Parkland shooting happened, which was less than an hour away from his home. According to The Guardian, “That year, a federal report called for ‘secure spaces within classrooms where students and teachers can shelter.’” His company then began marketing the pods as protection against shooters and tornadoes. So far, the pods have not been used in any real-world shootings. The pods are not America’s solution to school shootings, but rather an anxiety-relieving shelter if ever placed in the situation.

To provide more insight into the National Safety Shelter company here are some safety measures the company has recorded and tested, as well as other information. This can all be found on their website at https://nationalsafetyshelters.com/faqs/ :

How long does it take a class of students to gather in the shelter? It is stated that once a lockdown warning is initiated, the process of entering and securing the shelter can be done in a minute or less.

What kind of “bullet-resistant” testing have the shelters been put through? The steel used is certified by the Department of Defense; it is proficient in protecting users from shotguns, handguns and high-caliber assault rifles.

What sort of ventilation is built into the shelters? Vents are located at the top and bottom of each section of the shelter. They eliminate the possibility of any toxic intrusion, while still providing clean air circulation.

How is the space of a shelter measured for a classroom size? The size of a particular shelter is usually built to allow maximum occupancy in a given classroom rather than the actual enrollment of students. According to National Safety Shelters, “We generally recommend about 1.3 square ft/person for grades Pre-K thru grade 6 and 1.8 square ft/person for grades 7-12, including a teacher or staff member.”

What is the cost of a Hide-Away shelter? The average cost of a Hide-Away shelter directly varies between student capacity and shelter geography. It can range from $15,000-30,000 per classroom (with an average of 20-25 students). Although, there are no operating or maintenance costs.