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Shelter

How To Research & Shop for Underground Bunkers

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Weather, unrest, and even war are things that can happen in an instant. One look at the newspaper, and we all know it. Most of us force ourselves to deny it because brains are funny things, but should we?

We have little control of what may come our way. But, we have control of how we handle it, including planning – not panic.

Let’s not panic together and learn all about underground bunkers and how to shop for one that best suits your needs and squashes your fears.

Know Your Enemies

I said not to panic, but we all know it is best to know your enemies. We can’t make a sound decision without understanding what could happen on a random Tuesday.

Mother Nature

Natural Disasters

We have made her mad, and she has not let us forget it. 2020 brought us a pandemic, and with each hurricane season, we get more named storms. 

Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and the list of terrible weather threats that we have no control over goes on and on.

We can control where our family goes for safety when nature brings down the hammer. An underground bunker is a solid choice. 

Regardless of where you live, you experience some sort of weather-related threat. Just know which ones to expect and which type of safe refuge would benefit you and your family.

Grid Failure

Power Grid

It feels like the world is one fire, and yes, grid failure is undoubtedly a threat. But, there are layers and layers of failsafe to keep that from happening.

However, it only takes one look at Texas, Winter 2021, to know that every failsafe failed. People who prepared with generators and bunkers were allowed to not freeze to death.

You never know. And, that’s the problem.

Civil Unrest

Riot

Not gonna lie; this may be a massive threat to you and your family, depending on where you live or work. And, the scariest part is you don’t know where it is coming from.

The political discourse is toxic, dangerous, and out of everyone’s control. If you live near a state capital or any big city, you’re more at risk than someone in rural Alabama. 

Nuclear War

Nuclear

I am just leaving this right here. It’s always looming.

All of the Pros of Having an Underground Bunker

  • You might just survive a catastrophe. A secure place with well-built and solid walls will protect you from flying debris and be a temporary shelter until you figure out the next steps. If the underground bunker is well installed, sealed, and insulated, it may even protect you from nuclear fallout.
  • It will help keep out the bad guys. During a disaster, people get desperate, and others take advantage. You make your bolthole secure enough; marauders won’t bother for long. 
  • Easy access to a safe place very well will make the difference between life and death in some cases. It should be one of the first things you consider when researching and shopping for underground bunkers.
  • Storms are far more likely to happen than nuclear war or a grid failure. A below-ground haven is a sure way to protect you and your family from weather-related dangers.
  • Fire is one of the biggest fears for most people. It devours everything and doesn’t care. Concrete, steel, and dirt are fire-resistant, which means they can protect you and your family from a greedy flame.
  • You have a place to put your valuables. If you worry, there is no reason you can’t store priceless belongings in a secure location. Peace of mind is everything, and yes, it sometimes includes stuff – photos, thumb drives, children’s drawings.
  • Many communities have public bunkers or shelters. However, there is zero privacy. A private bunker gives your family and friends a place to hide when tragedy strikes.
  • Peace of mind is everything. Stressing it is important because anxiety and worry eat up too many people’s lives. It is better just to tackle a stressor and move to the next. If that means investing in an underground bunker, then do it if you have the means.

What Should You Build

Underground bunkers come in all shapes and sizes. What you decide on the building will reflect what worries you most. Ask yourself a few questions before you start designing your ideal sanctuary.

  1. If extreme weather sparks fear, an emergency retreat is enough for you. In theory, you only need to survive at most a couple of days. A below-ground or above-ground tornado shelter or safe room will protect your family from the weather’s worst.
  2. The Cold War led many of our grandfathers to build nuclear fallout shelters. Nuclear war is a valid worry (again), and an old-school hideaway is very accessible. 
  3. But, if zombies are your ultimate future enemy, then you are going to want to build a full-on doomsday bunker stocked with humanity-saving supplies.

In all seriousness, you can’t start even researching until you know what you want. There is a vast difference between a storm shelter and a nuclear fallout bunker.

Bigger Is Not Always Better, But …

The design, layout, and size are obviously things you will have to decide on. You can make it as big as you want or as compact as you can afford. But think about the entire package before you even start researching the price. This is the same as if you’re buying a storm shelter.

The most critical key when deciding on anything bunker-related is knowing the purposes.

Length of Stay

How long you plan on staying in your underground hideaway is a huge factor to ponder. A zombie apocalypse bolt hold can withstand an extended stay, while a tornado shelter is just temporary until the weather passes. 

Family Size and Living Space

A sleeping area, kitchen, social quarters, and bathrooms are all things you can include in a fallout shelter. But, the size of your family, stocked supplies, and the overall purpose will help you narrow down what you want and what is a pointless waste of your money.

Extra Space

You could need extra space for entertaining your kids or for your top-notch communication equipment. Regardless of the mission, consider any reason why having extra room is necessary.

Storage Space

If you’re investing in an underground bunker, then you want a place to stock provisions and other necessities in the case of an emergency. How much do you want to stock? Where do you plan on storing your valuables? Will you have more than you would in a go bag?

Stocking Your Underground Bunker

So, we discussed the first steps in deciding what sort of refuge best suits your needs. But, it is sometimes hard to picture something without the larger picture.

Storage space is a huge deal. It isn’t just about canned goods and stored water. 

Oxygen

Fingers crossed, the ventilation in your underground bunker is high quality. Ideally, your setup will last months. We breathe a lot to survive. If we can’t breathe, well, you know.

It is never a bad idea to have other means of getting oxygen.

Water

We need a lot of water, too. Everyone knows to stock water, but many people fall short of its reality. A human can only last a few days without it.

Jugs and bottles of freshwater are the best storage option. Grocery store water is not ideal for a long-term bugout plan.

Every six months, be sure to change the water out. You want the freshest water possible in the case of an emergency.

  • The CDC recommends 1 gallon of water per person a day. It breaks up as – 1/2 a gallon for drinking, 1/4 a gallon for cooking, and 1/4 a gallon for washing. The total adds about 30 gallons of water storage per adult per month. 

Food

Do not go near a bunker with perishable food. It is never, ever a good plan.

Canned fruit, including fruit and veggies, are ideal when stocking your shelter shelves. MREs are always handy, too. But, not everything in your underground bunker has to take like cardboard.

  • Honey – It is a weird food. It doesn’t expire. It just crystallized. Heat it up, and it’s as sweet as ever.
  • Uncooked Rice – It strangely lasts 30 years. Even minute rice can last up to five years. And, you can put anything on rice, and it’s better. Just store rice in an oxygen-free container, and you’re good to go for years.
  • Peanut Butter – Don’t put peanut butter on the rice. But, peanut butter does last upward five years. And, it is really good for you.
  • Alcohol – We will need our liquor in the case of nuclear fallout. The good news is as it can last forever as long as it is properly stored and sealed. Just avoid any alcohol with added cream or dairy.
  • Dried Beans – Dried beans are a source of tons of nutrients that we will need during a disaster. And, they go great with rice. Dried beans don’t go bad and last forever. If you can them, store them in a dry, cool place, like your underground bunker.
  • Energy Bars – Get the good ones that don’t taste like cardboard. An energy bar basically lasts for infinity. 
  • Candy – Bet you weren’t expecting that. But, most candies can last up to a year. At least you’ll know that the first year of the zombie apocalypse will be super sweet. 
  • Dehydrated Meat – It is one of those weird items that are better to buy at the store than to do it yourself. DIY dehydrated meat only lasts a couple of months. The store-bought crap is made to last up to a year. And, you can do a lot with it.
  • Bouillon Cubes – Make it all taste better with a flavoring cube. The goody goodness lasts a year past its expiration date. The only reason it may ever ‘go bad’ is that the moisture seeps out over time. They won’t ever be dangerous to eat, just not as yummy.
  • Canned fruits, vegetables, soups, and meats – Canned provisions can last one to five years. It is always a good idea to rotate these out throughout the year and keep them up-to-date. If the disaster happens in ten years, you don’t want 2022 food. 
  • Powdered Milk – No one actually enjoys powdered milk. But, it is a shelf-stable food and can last forever. 
  • Instant Coffee – Gross, but if you need fuel to fight a zombie, caffeine will do it. Instant coffee stored in a freezer lasts forever and, if on a shelf, still has a 20-year lifespan.
  • Hardtack – Just flour will expire in about a year. However, you combine flour, salt, and water, and you have hardtack. You can make a ton of stuff that is both tasty and works as fuel for your body.
  • Vanilla Extract – Stock up on some pure vanilla extract ASAP. The sweet additive lasts forever on a shelf. 

I told you that you didn’t have to sacrifice taste to outlive a disaster. And, now you see how important it is to understand what you need and what your purpose is before designing your underground bunker.

First Aid

It is okay to assume that disasters lead to injuries. Because a lot of the time they do. It would help if you stocked pain relievers, antibiotics, antiseptics, and bandages, at the very least. A small cut can go terribly mad, really quickly. 

Extra medication is always essential when putting together a first aid kit for your family. If you have the means to store insulin, do so. It is the most common emergency medication that becomes a danger during disasters.

Warm Clothes

Well, underground bunkers are not known for being the warmest place on the planet. Jackets, hoodies, and thick socks are always great additions to your stock.

Fashion won’t be an issue, promise.

Tools

Pack you a toolbox because you will be the only handyman available.

Batteries

Big batteries, little batteries, battery packs, backup batteries, just get a lot of batteries. 

Now, take a moment to consider how long you’ll be there and what supplies you will need. It will guide you to the first steps of the design of your underground bunker.

You Have Bunker Building Options

Before you can even start designing the home-away-from-home-but-not-really, you have to know your options and what’s out there. You have a few routes you can take. But, consider a few things – needs, wants, and your budget.

Contracting a Contractor

DIY is fun, and you have a special sort of freedom. However, that requires skills that most of us don’t have. That’s when a contractor comes in. A professional bunk builder will help design, plan, estimate, engineer,  and construct an underground bunker. 

But that comes with a price. Yes, having technical support even after installation is lovely. However, the all-at-once price is often too much for most people.

Ready-Made Shelter

ShelterCube 6x4 Panelized Steel Indoor Tornado Shelter (Door on 6-Ft Side) - FEMA Compliant - from Survive-a-Storm Shelters

You can bury a bunker. A storage container, a manufactured home, or any other sound structure makes an excellent underground bunker, or at least a good start. 

Unless you have a backhoe, you will still likely need to hire a professional to bury it for you. But, it doesn’t cost even half what it costs for a contractor to build one from scratch in a short period.

Build It Yourself

You may decide to go it alone. But, you’ll still need some help. General contractors for concrete work or an HVAC team are sometimes a necessity.

And, some people will want to do it all themselves. It isn’t paranoia; it is just being careful. You can always ask your contractors to sign NDA’s. 

One of the biggest pros to building an emergency shelter yourself is that you can start today and not finish for years. You can build as you can afford it and build add-ons as you need them.

A Couple of Cons to Consider When Shopping for Underground Bunker Designs

Underground bunkers are not ideal in every situation. But what is? 

Ventilation

Ventilation for sealed in shelters is not great. Even the best ventilation fans won’t last forever. You can find ways to make it better, but it will cost.

Sure, you’ve stocked plenty of jugs of freshwater. But, it will run out one day if the end of the world comes. Unless you’re near a water source, you may want to consider making one. 

Being Trapped

Most underground shelters have one entrance/exit. Tons of problems can arise from only having one. You can have a back door built, but it will cost a lot extra.

The one way in and out also makes it an easy target for bandits or marauders taking advantage of war or riot. You can shore it up, but it is not overly easy – and it can make it harder to break out in case of emergency.

The underground position puts you at a disadvantage in a battle situation. The low ground makes it harder to defend.

Water Table & Flooding

It is possible to drown while sheltering underground. The potential of flooding is far higher than on ground level. 

Waste Management

Everyone eats, drinks, sleep, and poops. Waste management can be a huge issue in an underground bunker. Plan it out because it won’t be as easy as flushing a toilet (plus it’s vulnerable to frozen pipes).

Natural Light

You can plan lighting, such as bulbs, lamps, candles, etc., but you have no way to get natural sunlight in an underground shelter. You can easily confuse night and day during an extended stay in the safe haven. You can find methods of funneling natural lighting.

Fire

Again, fire is a monster and wants to eat everything. If a fire breaks out in your below-ground refuge, it is nearly impossible to escape it. And it is going to burn everything inside.

Long-Term Comfort

The indoor climate isn’t going to be overly comfortable. It will likely be cooler, given the cold nature of the earth. Warm clothes and extra blankets are easy ways to ensure you stay warm. Never, ever start a fire inside of your underground bunker. It is a fire risk and will eat all of your available oxygen.

Research Tons and Shop Carefully

Extreme weather, wildfires, and a divided world are all reasons to consider an underground bunker. We’ve given you tons of information to digest before doing your own research. But don’t just rely on your conclusions, either. You are building a safe place for you and your family. It isn’t a place to take shortcuts.

Comparing prices is always a good plan of action. But, choose a path and stick to it. Changing your mind mid-build is expensive, disruptive, and a waste of spent time.

And finally, take your time. I’m not saying wait until it actually happens; I’m just saying that create a fortification that will be safe for a lifetime and will actually protect you. You’ll know when you see it or think it through. 

Underground bunkers are a heavy investment of both money and time. Price it out, check reviews, and get a good recommendation. 

Just do what you can, and always have a plan.