Is your claustrophobia at war with your fear of tornadoes?
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had our in-ground steel tornado shelter at home shows or expos, and had passersby look in and exclaim that they could never bring themselves to get down in one. I understand. I have a mild case of claustrophobia myself. Mine is mild enough that I can get around it by keeping a small battery powered fan in our shelter. When we get into the shelter, I put it on a step and turn it on. The moving air hitting my face is all it takes to calm my fear of the enclosed space.
However, I know that many people have more serious issues with close spaces, and when you put that close space underground, they would rather take their chance with the storm. They don’t have to, however. In most cases. you can sit on the steps with your head just above the open door. This eliminates the “closed in” feeling and allows for a hasty retreat into the shelter at the moment that the fear of an impending tornado wins out over your claustrophobia. Most of the time, you only need to be in a shelter for a few moments.