Many counties and municipalities in Oklahoma have voluntary storm shelter registry programs that encourage people with a storm shelter to register its location to assist first responders during a tornado or other emergency. Most densely populated areas of Oklahoma do not have or discourage the use of public shelters, citing the increased danger they pose to the public during a tornado emergency.
Storm shelter registry data typically includes information on the size, type and specific location of the shelter on the property. This allows it to be located should the entrance or entire shelter be covered by a debris field.
Many emergency management services in Oklahoma contend that in the past, there have been significant injuries and fatalities associated with tornado activity due to people leaving their homes and seeking shelter. It is commonly believed that traffic jams, traffic accidents and citizens arriving at public places that aren't open 24 hours a day pose a greater risk of people being caught without shelter. The average warning time for a tornado in Oklahoma is 10 to 15 minutes, which is very little time to relocate.
Some small rural communities where traffic and distance issues are of less concern operate public shelters that can be located with signs or by contacting government offices for information.