SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – When severe weather poses a threat, preparation is key. Today, storm shelters across Shelby County opened their doors for community members to provide a safe place to hunker down.

Shelby County officials say they are always prepared with a plan in action to help keep their communities safe. They work to provide a sturdy shelter with electricity and restrooms. Many recommend coming to a shelter with water, snacks and blankets.

“There’s a lot of communities here in our community that really need help when it gets bad weather,” Shelby Fire Department Chief Jason Weaver said. “They need a place to bring their kids and get out of the storm.”

Cruz Munuz said coming to a shelter as soon as you can is important during severe weather. He lives 20 minutes away from the nearest one.

“[20 minutes] is kind of a drive if there’s immediate issues, so I just wanted to, you know, be proactive, and not be caught out,” Munuz said.

Hosts and community members alike say these shelters are needed because everyone deserves safety & several homes aren’t built to weather severe storms.

“We do have some areas in our city where the type of housing that they have is not safe in a tornado, and so we want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to take shelter in an event where we are expecting severe weather,” Ainsley Allison, communications manager for the city of Pelham, said.

“Sometimes you can’t afford to have your own storm shelter and the basement isn’t always 100% safe,” community member Deborah Massey said. “I am very thankful they do offer this to the community.”

The shelters CBS 42 spoke with said they remain open to the public until the storm watches are officially lifted, however long that may be. To learn more about Shelby County storm shelters near you, click here