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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i want to make part of my basement into a fall out shelter/bomb shelter, i have the room with 3 walls concrete. the fourth is plasterboard with a door.
what is the best way to make that as sturdy/gamma ray resistant, just buy a bunch of cinder block and pile them to the ceiling?
and the ceiling..... it has wiring and pipes, and isnulation, but need something more substantial if i want to make it a shelter,if i want to put brick up there, would need to lay down some support pipes and pile drive into the concrete floor,etc.... any other ideas?

87 Posts
Do you live in an area where a bomb can pose a threat to you? If you lived within 50-100 miles of DC, NY city or another major metro. hub. I can see why you'd want to bunker up.

What you are wanting to do can get pretty pricey as you'd need to also have sanitation and air purification in addition to food, water, first aid and whatever you else you need to endure until the air is clear. If you have never spent a lot of time is an enclosed space, your shelter can start to feel like a prison.

I'd like to suggest you find an alternate place to go for safety. If you have some advanced warning you can distance yourself from the immediate threat/attack. Distance is also a blessing as you are not a target for looters or others who are also trapped and desperate for your supplies. Remember Katrina? Those who left at first warning were safe. Those who stayed or were trapped were at the mercy of the storm and many fell prey to those who exploited/raped/killed the disaster victims.

It's alway good to have a Plan C when your Plan B doesn't work out. Just my 5c worth.

348 Posts
assuming that your basement is almost completely underground, there should be plenty of dirt around each wall to create a strong enough barrier.

It was suggested that the average fallout shelter from the 1950's - 1960's be covered with at least 3 feet of dirt. This is enough to cut gamma radiation in half 10 times.

So our only problem would probably be the ceiling and any portions sticking above ground. Here is a list of possible items that could be used. Each one lists the material name and the halving thickness required to cut gamma radiation in half once.

Lead - 0.4"
Concrete - 2.4"
Steel - 1"
Soil - 3.6"
Water - 7.2"
Wood - 11"
Depleted Uranium - 0.08"
Air - 6000"

So to get a halving factor of 10, you would need either 4" of lead, 24" of concrete, 10" of steel, 36" of soil, 72" of water, 110" of wood, or less than one inch of depleted uranium.

What I do not have, however, is any data on the protection factor of any plastic sheeting, mylar, insulating material, etc. So who knows if there is a lighter substitute out there.

I invented the internet. :rofl:
3,698 Posts
The site below has a lot of good info on expedient, basement and stand alone fallout shelters. They also have a book available to download for free with some great info in it. Should answer a lot of your questions.

Nuclear Blast & Fallout Shelters FAQ - Part III

349 Posts
Here is another source of info. It's the first shelter described. The rest are outside shelters.

Hope this helps.


300 Posts
Great link Jerry. Great idea for the shelter too ERDOC.

No matter where you are having a shelter is a good idea. Even if you can not afford the full blast shelter with filtration etc. any pre-made fallout shelter is a good idea.

After the cloud starts rising is NOT the time you want to START moving patio blocks and dirt!

I invented the internet. :rofl:
3,698 Posts
There is a difference between a bomb (blast?) shelter and fallout shelter. Be sure to take those differences into account when you design yours. Also, if it's in your basement and the house is sealed up tight air filtration is not as critical as it will be if you are bringing in outside air for ventilation. The website I gave you and the book you can download have some economical alternatives for good home designed and built air pump and filtration systems.

It's good that you're taking this step. Keep at it!

684 Posts
A few things to take into consideration...
1. Long range missiles are pretty puny on payload.
Putting ANYTHING (Weight) up and away that far is expensive and difficult.
Most of the boosters and reentry vehicles won't survive the trip,
That's why there were so many sheer NUMBERS of missiles...

The big, unspoken secret is most will fail somewhere along the way...
That doesn't mean they won't be launched, it simply means they won't make it to 'Target',
Some won't lift off,
Some won't achieve enough boost to reach proper apogee and will fall short,
Some won't survive reentry,
Some will be WAY off target,
Some won't detonate IF/When they reach their potential target area.

2. We are the ONLY country with the technology to put a rocket in a particular window or door, or even hit a building.
Everyone else speaks in terms of MILES from target, We have INCHES from target.
That technology will eventually leak out or be developed by our potential adversaries... The gap closes every day...

If you live as little as 50 miles from a potential target, then your chances of getting a 'Direct' strike are little to none.
A 'Target Circle' is a wonderful thing, a very little increase in diameter of potential detonation expands you potential for surviving by several times.

3. There is a difference between 'Low Order' detonation,
'High Order' detonation,
And 'Critical Mass' detonation.

If they have a 'Low Order' detonation, then the warhead will fall to earth harmlessly, probably mostly in tact, and you probably won't know there was a strike at all.

If there is a 'High Order' detonation, that is what you would call a 'Dirty Bomb',
Lots of radio active particles of the warhead, but no nuclear 'Critical Mass' blast.
Just like a big firework in the sky, with radioactive fall out.

If there is 'Critical Mass' detonation, then the game is ON.
There will be wide spread radiation, intense blast, the kind you see from the footage with mushroom cloud, ect.

By far the worst of the three is a critical mass detonation.
EMP, atmospheric disruption, huge amount of radio active fall out, ect. along with an INTENSE overpressure over large areas from the blast.

You have to build VERY STURDY to survive the blast...
WATER, AIR, FOOD protection has to be built in, along with support systems for all those power consuming devices to filter the air along with issues like 'Protection Suits' for surface exploration, decontamination areas, which means air locks since a 'Blast' protection shelter MUST include a positive pressure atmosphere.


A 'Radiation' shelter or 'Fall Out' shelter is a little different.
Yes, you need some air filtering, a way to get waste products out of the shelter, ect.
But if you are far enough away from the initial blast area, (Usually 5 miles or more) then your concerns are more with waiting until the atmosphere clears of the 'Heavy' radiation particles...
That usually means a heavy rain or two, or several days of wind to move the particles along on their way in the air column.

Initial gamma burst isn't a big concern if you aren't a 'Ground Zero'.
Gamma rays don't turn corners, so the farther you are away, the more earth it has to penetrate to get to you.
Same idea as angled armor if you are familiar with the mechanics of that concept.

Alpha radiation in water, food, ect. that was unprotected is the big deal.
Once consumed, the Alpha particles will KICK YOUR BUTT!

So, if you don't have the hot water heater in the shelter with you so you have a water source you can disconnect from the city grid, which WILL be contaminated sooner or later... You are SCREWED.

Alpha particles can't really penetrate the skin, they are EASILY Stopped by nothing more than wood.
You MUST consume them for them to kick your butt.


Personally, I'd take my 'Concrete Room' and fill it with Canned Goods.
Make it a well stocked pantry.

Nothing like having a CHOICE of food, and since you can buy in bulk with a storage room, your grocery bill actually goes DOWN...
Just make sure the 'Little Woman' knows she has to ROTATE the stock,
You can't leave the stuff there for years and expect it to still be 'Good' to use.

I'd install a few 'Tanks' for incoming water, connected to the city water system so they don't spoil.
One tank connected to the next, with a 'Back Flow' valve on both sides of the tanks, and 'Taps' so you can use the tanks right in the room.
Good place for the water heater, one tank most of already have...

I'd have filter masks to keep the initial Alpha particles out of my system.
Using nothing more than a heavy coat of paint, and some expanding foam to seal off any drafts that might carry in fallout would do the job for you,
And consider a good HEPA filter for ventilation.
You WILL need ventilation for clean air, cooking, ect.

I'd have a RELIABLE way to get rid of trash and human waste.
Running things down a drain is going to take water you don't have.
Consider buckets for human waste and a 'Trash Chute' to get rid of packaging.
Buckets/Lids can be stacked for compact storage, and once full, you can just seal them up and push them out in the rest of the basement.
Sealed they won't stink the place up, and you can get rid of them once it's safe to come out of the 'Shelter'.

Trash chute is a little more tricky, you DO NOT want food waste to build up in trash bags in the basement with you.
Rodents WILL find it in trash bags.
A trash chute that works as an 'Interlock' to transport outside, then go outside (Requiring an environment suit, air filtering, ect.) to get rid of the pile up right outside the shelter.

Burning is an option if you have provisions for a 'Wood Burner' in the basement, but again, this will require an 'Environment' suit to feed the incinerator, and you will need fuel (Wood, coal, whatever) to ensure complete incarceration.

HUMANS GENERATE A LOT OF WASTE, and most 'Shelters' overlook this aspect of human activity.


*IF* you are unlucky enough to be at 'Ground Zero' of a stray nuclear detonation...
You should kiss your butt goodbye.

There is little or no chance of surviving the blast,
And even if you survive, there is little or no chance you can evacuate the site or shelter in place until it's 'Safe' to come above ground again.

The shelter would have to be INCREDIBLY STRONG to survive the blast,
The air, water, waste disposal will cost hundreds of thousands to sustain the average family for very long,
Not many civilians would have the training to NOT track in the radiation into the shelter,
And it's Very unlikely that any one family would have the expertise to operate & maintain the generators to keep the life support systems operational.

The fuel consumption and exhaust gas disposal alone would overwhelm most budgets that weren't government funded,

Replacement of contaminated filters without exposure or leakage is a VERY specific field that 'Civilians' wouldn't easily master, which has to be done quite often in the first few days, until the dust settles at 'Ground Zero'...
And continuous operation of generators to produce the electricity for the air pumps, water pumps in the decontamination showers, air locks, ect. would be well beyond most of the 'Civilian' population,
Especially in an emergency setting where you get NO PRACTICE and NO MARGIN FOR ERROR.

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