It may sound paranoid, but having a fallout shelter in your home it’s a serious issue. No one can predict when a missile will fall in a terrorist attack or a war. That was the reason why in the 50s, during the cold war, many Americans decided to prepare in case of a disaster. Knowing how to build a fallout shelter in your basement may be knowledge that you won’t use very often, but it never hurts to know.
The first time the need for fallout shelters arose was shortly after the culmination of World War II, during the so-called Cold War. Shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis emerged, which again threatened with a nuclear confrontation.
Although since the end of this conflict, the demand for these types of shelters has diminished, you can rest easy knowing that it is still possible to build one in your home.
It never hurts to have a safe room
First, we must understand what a safe room is. This, as the name implies, is a room designed to protect people against different contingencies. Safe rooms are common in places susceptible to tornadoes and hurricanes, but can also be found in extreme weather regions.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a room is considered safe when it provides almost absolute protection, preventing the death or injury of its users.
The construction of this type of room is thanks to the study carried out on the different natural disasters. If the stipulated regulations are followed, it should be able to withstand even the greatest dangers.
Even if we never use it, having a room that meets the parameters to be safe always provides relief.
The Types of Safe Rooms
We can differentiate two types of safe rooms depending on the people who can access them. The first type is the public shelter, which is built-in busy areas and to which anyone can enter in case of emergency.
The second type are private shelters. Individuals or families build these for personal use. Usually, these types of shelters are located in a basement to build walls of considerable thickness.
A basement fallout shelter requires a moderate budget, both to build it and to supply it. The price will also be influenced depending on whether you need to build a new basement or if all you will do is recondition the one you already own.
How to build a fallout shelter? You must first know how radiation works. This is like heat or UV rays; although we can’t see the, we feel the effects they have on us. However, they cannot pass through solid objects directly, but instead transmit their energy by irradiating them, which causes them to heat up.
Nuclear radiation works similarly, radiating what it reaches to continue its journey. This can be avoided if the distance between the irradiated point and the other end is wide, or if there are enough things that receive the radiation until it dissipates.
Therefore, in the case of a shelter, the thicker the wall, the less chance of radiation reaching the center of the room.
Once we know the construction requisites, we must prepare to supply the shelter. In case of emergency, you will not be able to leave it for a time. Although, there is no exact calculation when it comes to radiation, at least in the case of natural disasters the recommendation is to store 3.5 gallons of water per person to be able to endure two weeks.
In contrast, there is not much problem if a person does not eat for two weeks, so food rations are not as important (although it does not mean that you must exclude them).
The best option is to hide underground
When it comes to protection, the best thing is an underground shelter. We explained that it is because we can build thick walls. Today, threats are increasingly destructive, so we cannot afford to rehearse if we can survive with shelter on the surface.
How to build a fallout shelter in your basement? To start, like any underground construction, we must ensure that it does not have water leaks. It is recommended that the basement or cellar of our house be located on a slope in the opposite direction of the room, which will push the water.
If the adjacent terrain is already prepared, the next thing is to determine if the basement lining is strong enough. Although the ground works well as a protective barrier in hurricanes, it is not as effective when it comes to nuclear radiation.
It is advisable to reinforce all the basement walls (including the ceiling and floor) so that they have an additional thickness that allows us to be safe from radiation. This involves the removal of land, and perhaps the extension of the foundations of your home (in case of projects that cover the entire basement).
Our personal shelter
Do you want to know how to build a cheap home fallout shelter? Then you reached the appropriate section. The secret is to know that you don’t need to condition your entire basement to create an efficient shelter. If you only want to protect a small group of people, you can designate a 50-square-foot space inside your basement to build a small shelter for five.
The location of this space is crucial. Ideally, it is located in a corner away from the perimeter walls, so that there is an additional distance to protect it. You should also select the area that is most buried since areas that are above ground level are more vulnerable.
The shelter will have a triangular shape. The easy way to do this is simply by measuring 10 feet on each wall starting from the corner. Draw a line to join the resulting points, and you will have the area that is theoretically suitable against nuclear disasters.
The coating of the corner walls can be done with masonry, so you do not have to spend high amounts of money to increase their resistance factor. Additionally, it is recommended to insulate the ceiling and floor.
For additional protection, you should stick as much as you can to the corner and floor. That’s why it is recommended that you sit or lie as much time as possible inside your “DIY fallout shelter”.
Perform a preliminary inspection of your basement
Before you start supplying your basement for emergencies, you must be sure that it is strong enough in its structure not to give in to disasters. The roof and floor are the most fragile points, so it is recommended to reinforce them.
You should also inspect that the basement does not show signs of moisture or mold. These agents are harmful to health if we breathe them for a long time. Since moisture is a recurring problem (which causes the birth of fungi), it is recommended to have some method to control it in case it appears while we take shelter in our fallout shelter.
We shouldn’t die due to a lack of oxygen
Something that people often forget in underground construction is ventilation. In a basement, a small system is enough, since its use is for short periods. However, the same does not happen with a fallout shelter.
Now that you know how to build a fallout shelter in your basement, you mustn’t forget to install adequate ventilation so as not to run out of oxygen. A person requires at least ten cubic feet of oxygen per minute in cold regions, while in hot conditions, the amount increases to thirty cubic feet per minute.
Believe it or not, oxygen does not require a complex purification process in the case of radiation. The most basic designs are enough to purify the air.
In fact, as in fires, air filtration can be done using a damp cloth. Also, consider that there must be openings for carbon monoxide to leave the shelter or you could end up poisoned. These, however, cannot be extremely large to prevent radiation from entering.
Although the shelter must have openings for air to circulate, the remaining basement construction must be airtight.
Finally, if you want to be sure that you will not lack oxygen, install air purifiers and place some plants to absorb carbon monoxide (without exaggeration, since these can also be deadly in enclosed spaces).
FAQ about building a fallout shelter in your basement
What is a fallout shelter?
A fallout shelter is a safe place constructed to shield people from the dangers of nuclear fallout, or the radioactive dust and debris left over after a nuclear explosion.
Basements, underground bunkers, or other buildings that provide radiation shielding can be used as fallout shelters.
Is it legal to build a fallout shelter in my basement?
As long as it complies with local construction laws and regulations, it is generally acceptable to construct a fallout shelter in your basement.
To make sure you are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, it is always advisable to check with your local government representatives.
What materials do I need to build a fallout shelter?
A fallout shelter’s design and size will determine the materials required for construction. The shelter will often need to have sturdy, reinforced walls and ceilings constructed out of materials like concrete, steel, or brick.
Air filtration devices, radiation detectors, and emergency supplies like food, water, and medical equipment may also be included.
How much does it cost to build a fallout shelter?
The size, style, and materials utilized can have a significant impact on the cost of creating a fallout shelter.
When compared to larger, more elaborate shelters, which can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, a basic shelter can be built for as low as a few thousand dollars.
How long does it take to build a fallout shelter?
The complexity and size of the shelter, as well as the accessibility of supplies and manpower, will all affect how long it takes to construct a fallout shelter.
Larger, more intricate shelters may require several weeks or even months to build while a simple shelter can be constructed in a matter of days.
How much space do I need to build a fallout shelter?
The number of occupants and the volume of supplies that will be stored within will determine how much space is required to construct a fallout shelter.
A small family’s simple shelter can be constructed in one room, but larger shelters may need numerous rooms or perhaps a complete basement.
What features should my fallout shelter have?
Reinforced walls and ceilings, air filtration systems, radiation detectors, emergency supplies, and a steady supply of electricity should all be included in a well-designed fallout shelter.
Also, it ought to have adequate room for everyone who will be utilizing it and communication tools so that they can stay in touch with the outside world.
How can I ensure my fallout shelter is safe and effective?
Your fallout shelter should be created by a qualified contractor or experienced builder who has experience planning and building shelters if you want to make sure it is secure and efficient.
Also, you should constantly check and repair the radiation detectors and air filtration system, as well as maintain a sufficient stock of emergency supplies.
How long can I stay in my fallout shelter?
The intensity of the nuclear disaster and the number of supplies you have stored up will determine how long you can stay in your fallout bunker.
Since most radioactive material takes two weeks or more to decay to safe levels, it is generally advised to remain in the shelter for at least that long.
What supplies do I need to stock my fallout shelter with?
You need food, water, medical supplies, radiation detectors, communication equipment, and other emergency items to stock your fallout bunker.
In order to spend the time, you should also think about accumulating things like clothing, bedding, and personal hygiene supplies in addition to entertainment and instructional materials.
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