Terrorist attacks, tornadoes or an itchy trigger finger poised over the button that will send us all into a nuclear winter–whether you’re planning for disasters natural or man-made, a survival shelter is one of the best investments you can make.
Bad decisions, bad government or just plain bad luck can change the course of history forever. Pouring a bit of time and work into a proper shelter is a small sacrifice for some good old fashioned peace of mind. No matter what happens, you’ll know it’s there in case you need it.
For those just starting down the path of preparation, getting ready to build a proper shelter can be a bit intimidating. Where should you build it in relation to your home? What type of equipment will you need? What should it be made out of and, once it’s built, what should you keep in it?
Believe it or not, most folks can build a shelter on their own. But a little help from some heavy machinery will make the load easier to bear. Sure, you could try to dig the whole thing by hand but, depending on size and depth, you could be dedicating weeks upon weeks of your time just laying the groundwork for your shelter. Rent a backhoe, and possibly the operator to go with it, and the entire digging process can be completed within a single afternoon. You will also likely need to contract with a cement company to poor footers and foundations. A trailer to haul supplies will be a necessity, as well.
So where should you build your shelter? Survival Ring suggests building far away enough from the house to keep the project away from prying eyes, but also close enough to get to in the event of a fast-moving emergency. Approximately 50 yards from the main structure should do the trick. Remember that you don’t have to explain to folks what you’re actually building. Tell them it’s a simple tornado shelter or you’re doing work on the septic tank.
Thanks to shows like Doomsday Preppers and Extreme Survival Bunkers, ready-made shelters, like those sold by Atlas are becoming easier to come buy. These things are built to last and can even be fitted with all of the luxuries of home. For the Average Joe, though, you’ll likely want to construct your own shelter. Lead lining is best but, in a pinch, a re-purposed steel storage container can work as a solid starting point. There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to the actual construction of a shelter, and far more than could ever be included in a simple rundown of the basics. For a more thorough walkthrough, Underground Bomb Shelter offers a comprehensive guide on building a shelter of your own, including consideration for how many people will be using the shelter, proper ventilation and shielding, plumbing, etc.
Despite all of the planning and preparation that must go into building a shelter, stocking it with supplies is perhaps just as tricky. There’s no way to plan for everything, but there are certain staples that should be considered for every shelter.
You’ll want a good stock of useful tools, both of the hand-held and yard-work variety.
Lanterns and plenty of fuel are another must.
Pack plenty of linens for sleeping, clothing and staying warm.
A small space heater, a generator and fuel to power both for several months.
Consider recreational needs, like books, board games, an exercise machine, a deck of cards, etc.
If you didn’t build a bathroom into your shelter, a simple camping rig will do.
A bow or rifle for hunting.
Cutlery and kitchenware.
In general, you’ll want to have at least three month’s worth of supplies on-hand, though more is always better. Have on hand plenty of rations, including canned meats, margarine and powdered eggs, dried veggies and dehydrated fruits, various grains, potatoes, oils, salts, sugar, the works.