With the increase of natural disasters and political upheaval, creating a self-sustaining shelter to retreat to is becoming the more and more logical measure. A fallout shelter, in particular is most appealing as it protects against all disasters, including nuclear fallout should a bomb drop and the radiation leave the area unsafe for life. However, for a truly fallout-free shelter, there are many factors that need to be addressed that are often forgotten by the average wilderness survival enthusiast. Here are just four of the absolute essentials that must be addressed for a fully sustainable fallout shelter.
Without a proper ventilation system, the air will become stale and unbreathable. However, if your system isn’t closed, then the nuclear fallout has the potential of getting into the air of your shelter. A large volume ventilating pump that circulates the air will provide both air flow and cooling. There should be about 40 CFM for each person. The airflow should be gentle, as too fast will increase the temperature in the vent pipes, which will raise the temperature in the shelter. These vent pipes should also have an air infiltration system installed to clean possible radiation from the air if your system is connected to the outside, or an air scrubbing system that will remove CO2 and replace it with oxygen if your system is a closed one. You’ll also want to factor in a heating system, especially if your shelter is underground.
To avoid nuclear fallout, you have to have your own water source. You can either do this with rain catchers, attached to an advanced cleaning and filtration system to remove the fallout that will absolutely be in the rain, or you can dig a well, connecting straight to your shelter. With your shelter already being underground, it shouldn't take much more to connect to the water table and have well water. Once all the piping is in place, you will just need a pump, preferably both a mechanical and hand operated one as backup. Remember, though, that the fallout may get into the water table if it has an above-ground outlet, so have a way to test the water and make sure that you dig deep. The deeper the water source, the more natural filtering happens before the water reaches you. Sewage is another important issue that has to be dealt with. A durable septic tank should be installed to take care of excrement, and there are companies like Acme environmental services that can create a natural draining system, allowing the sewage to filter back out into the landscape away from your water source and without resulting in a massive waste pit. It should be large enough to satisfy the needs of everyone for at least a year, so keep that in mind when looking at varying tank sizes and systems. Septic tanks only need to be pumped every 3-5 years for maintenance, depending on size and use, so it’s the perfect solution to living off the grid for an extended period of time, and takes care of all waste from both toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, baths, and sinks.
This is one of the biggest problems with a fallout shelter. Running a generator requires a continuous refilling of fuel and the exhaust fumes are poisonous. Solar panels with storage batteries might be a better and more sustainable option. Efficient panels can produce some power, even on a cloudy day. They are also quiet and are free of health hazards. Windmills can also be used to generate power, or even running water. A hand-powered or bike powered generator may not be the most practical for everyday use, it would be good to have one on hand should other power options fail. Being self-sustaining in a shelter means preparing for every eventuality, so always ensure that you have backups for all of your essential systems.
Speaking of preparing for the worst, a fallout shelter absolutely must be reinforced against blasts of high impact and heat. After all what good is a fallout shelter going to be if it doesn’t survive the initial nuclear blast? A solid concrete floor should be poured, and the walls made from reinforced concrete blocks that are bolted together. Having the building be underground affords the extra protection of the earth around it, which will also serve to shield against the radiation. If you want it to be completely secure against fallout, a completely closed off shelter is the most effective way to keep the radiation outside. However, there are perfectly effective filtering systems out there that can remove fallout from air and water, so be sure to compare those with CO2 scrubbing mechanisms before deciding between a closed or partially closed system.
Cutting yourself off from the outside world for any period of time can be a significant challenge, necessitating that you create your own self-sustaining ecosystem within your shelter. It can be done, however, and it is the only way to completely protect yourself and your loved ones from the lasting radiation that comes from a nuclear blast. Make sure you take into account all life-sustaining systems, and stock up on enough resources to last at least one year, with extra for unforeseen circumstances. Preparation is the key to weathering any disaster, so make sure you are truly prepared by doing your research and covering all essential functions of life in your shelter.