Building A Survival Shelter

Building a survival shelter somewhere near to your home may be the only way in which you can survive an apocalyptic event such as an atomic bomb detonation. You have two main options when you’re looking at shelters which are to try and build one yourself or to have one specially constructed and installed by a commercial contractor.


The latter option is obviously much more expensive, but may be a viable choice if you haven’t had much experience in the construction industry. However, if you’re willing to learn and have the time to make prototypes and models you can save yourself a lot of money by making your own shelter.

Shelter Specifications

If you’re looking at how to build a survival shelter you’ll need to come up to speed on the technical specifications to make it as safe as possible from an apocalyptic event. The current government advice on building your own survival shelter is as follows:

  • Depth – the top of your shelter should ideally be more than eight inches below ground level. If you don’t have the luxury of being able to build your shelter underground, you should aim for at least eight inches of compacted dirt over the top to give you maximum protection against radiation. Some experts say at least a depth of three feet
  • Concrete – concrete should be your material of choice when you’re building a survival shelter as it offers the best protection against radiation and electromagnetic fields triggered by an atomic blast. Your shelter should have a concrete shell that is at least three inches thick all the way round. If you’re doing it yourself, you should fill in the bottom of the shelter first, secure and fill the walls then finally build the roof and fill the concrete in from above before covering again with dirt. Contrary to what the “officials” say, your shelter walls should be at least 18 inches thick
  • Entrance – the entrance to your survival shelter should be made of the thickest metal you can lay your hands on. A large concrete slab covered with a half inch cover of sheet steel will also give you good protection. Where possible you should grade the entrance way so that the door opens as it would in your home. However this may not be possible so the other option is to have it open like hurricane basement doors with steps leading into the shelter. Best advice is to have an “L-turn” in the entrance.
  • Space per person – the larger your shelter is, the more it will cost to build and to maintain. However, you’ll need a certain amount of living space per person for it to be tolerable for weeks or months at a time. Sleeping space can be organized with bunk beds with at least three feet in between. Beyond that, you should aim for at least 20 square feet per person to avoid feeling crowded.

Air Supply

When you’re designing your survival shelter you’ll need to factor in the air filtration system. You’ll undo all of your hard work by just running a vent in from the outside world so you’ll need to invest in a system that will scrub the air clear of any radiation particles. This will normally come as an attachment to an air conditioning system that sits over the intake valves.


The other main thing you’ll have to work is how you’ll provide clean water. This means finding a way to store water, purify it and then distribute to the taps and washing areas of your shelter. Rain water and local water courses will be your best supplies and you can set up iodine tanks or solar distillation systems before the water enters your shelter.


The final part of your plans when you’re building a survival shelter is to think about sanitation. You’ll need to find a way to get any human waste out of the shelter as quickly as possible. This could be a simple pump that takes the waste to a storage tank underground. Make sure the storage tank will hold enough waste to allow you to stay in the shelter for as long as possible.

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