Many people dream about having a vacation home somewhere nice just to get away from the rush of the modern world. If you are part of the preparedness and survival communities, you might as well have plans to have a second home. The difference is that we want something that protects us from the threats of today’s world, a bug out location or even better, an emergency bunker. If an emergency bunker is on your to-do list, following are the things you need to consider.
When building an emergency bunker, for most of us average Americans, the cost plays an important role. It can go up based on the type of bunker you need, the areas it contains and the final design of the completed structure. A bunker doesn’t have to look like a sterile environment and many people spend quite a lot on giving it that touch of home. It all depends on what you need and what you want in the end.
Different emergency bunkers for different needs
When it comes to choosing an emergency bunker, we have to keep in mind that bunkers, just like houses come in all sizes, shapes and capabilities. This is why, when choosing an emergency bunker you have to pick one based on what you are worried about. Based on the research done by the major bunker builders, most people decide to build a bunker due to the following:
Storms, floods, solar flares and fires are all cards played by mature nature and most of the time she has a winning hand. All these events have disrupted life by destroying utilities or disrupting the deliveries chains of vital items such as food and fuel.
Following the recent events in Baltimore and other cities around the country, orders for bunker that are designed to protect the owner from the human elements have skyrocketed. When the law is being ignored and people are rioting and looting, violence is their only knowledge. Having an emergency bunker that can shield you from these elements of society is becoming a reality for many Americans.
Recommended reading: Prepping for Civil Unrest
Nuclear, Chemical or biological hazards
Ever since the cold war, the requests for bunkers that can protect one from such disasters kept a slow, but steady increase. Events like the one from Fukushima that showed the entire world what a nuclear reactor failure can do, made many Americans to consider designing their bunker to withstand a toxic environment.
Emergency bunker location
When it comes to choosing a location for your emergency bunker, many people think that having it far away from where they live and work is a good thing. That might not be the case because if you can’t reach it time, your emergency bunker will not serve its purpose. You might want to build your bunker in the same place you live. With the proper shielding, entry door and filtration system even a basement or an underground storage room can be turned into a viable bunker. You can do all sorts of modification to your home and it just depends on how discrete you want it to be. When choosing a location for your emergency bunker, time of reach and discretion are two factors you should take into account. If everyone knows about your emergency bunker they will try to get there before you and you might be left on the outside, to deal with the uncertain future.
Related reading: Choosing land for a bug out location
Emergency bunker facilities you should consider
Designing a bunker takes a lot of time and a lot of work, and you must address all the issues related to the scenario you are concerned about. I will give you just a small example regarding the doors of your emergency bunker. As you can imagine having sturdy doors is an absolute necessity regardless the scenario you are prepping for, but blast doors are a must for nuclear hazard. Following the same logic, blast doors are overkill if your main concern is civil unrest. The same goes for the air filtration system, and the one you put in place for a toxic environment is different from that for less-critical threats. Remember that all the “extra” options you chose will be reflected on the budget. Think twice and chose once if you don’t want to spend all your savings. At a minimum, your emergency bunker should have the following areas:
- A defensible entrance that is secure and unobtrusive
- Sleeping quarters that provide separation for adults and children. Many people make the mistake of having common sleeping quarters and that’s a major concern down the long road. You will need your privacy at some point and you can’t send the kids outside to play.
- A common living quarter, an area where people can gather for relaxation, where people can have meetings or do their main chores. This is the room that strengthens the social bonding.
- Every emergency bunker should have a kitchen for food preparation and cooking. This can be quite expensive based on the ventilation system you choose.
- An exercise area. Although this is not a must, more and more builders recommended this facility because it is important for people to stay fit. It is a significant aid for their physical well-being and for their morale.
- An eating area. Depending on the budget you have, having a separate area from the kitchen, where people can eat is indicated. However, you can always improvise something in the common living quarter.
- Utility room. This is a room restricted to kids and it houses the controls for air conditioning and filtration, heating and water purification and distribution.
- Communication systems for monitoring what is going on in the outside. Most communication rooms have an AM/FM receiver and a shortwave radio. Having handled radios is a good addition to your bunker items.
- A waste material management system. This can be quite costly depending on the size of your emergency bunker and some can even integrate a biogas generator in your bunker.
- Multiple sources of power, air intake and waste removal. Once again, the costs can go up depending on the size of the emergency bunker and the number of people it can accommodate.
- A sanitation area. This area will keep you clean and it will also be used for washing clothes and dishes. Even choosing a toilet can be difficult since you have chemical toilets, composing toilets and variants of normal toilets with water recycling systems.
- A shielding against radiation. Here it all depends on your cost and building materials. Just as an example here is the minimum thickness (inches) recommended for the following materials: lead (4 in), steel (10 in) concrete (24 in) and packed dirt (36 in).
- One or more storage areas. These areas should be divided based on the items you are stockpiling, from food to sanitation items.
- An armory. Most bunkers have an armory planed in the initial design and just like the utility room it’s a no kids zone.
- A secure, unobtrusive and defensible emergency exit. You will have to get out eventually and your emergency bunker should have an exit. You might not be able to use the main entrance to get out from your bunker.
Some bunkers have rooms designed specifically for producing food, rooms that have entire aquaponics and aeroponics systems, but as you can imagine the more complex the bunker is, the higher the final cost will be.
A DIY emergency bunker or a paid solution?
It doesn’t really matter the threat scenario you are prepping for when you decide to build an emergency bunker. If you want to make it a DIY project you must do a thorough research and make sure you don’t miss out on the essentials. It’s recommended to seek for professional help, someone that has experience in this field. Even if you decide to go with a bunker builder, you still have to make sure that your builder has the experience and background to answer all your needs. You should do your research and ask for references from customers.
Since many of the readers asked me how would I go for it if I were to build an emergency bunker, I though the following info can help.
If you are the handyman type and you can get trustworthy people to help you, having this info will save you a lot of trouble:
- FEMA P-320 – Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business
- FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms, Third Edition (2015)
- ICC-500, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters
There are more resources you can find on the internet, but these should give you a good start.
If you decide that you can’t tackle such a big project, you can always pay someone to build your emergency bunker for you. Here are just a few of the major emergency bunker builders:
- Atlas Survival Shelters
- Northwest Shelter Systems
- Rising S Bunkers
- Spartan Survival Systems
- Ultimate Bunker
You can find a lot of information about them online, emergency bunker examples, cost estimations and such.
An emergency bunker is a big step for every prepper
Buying or constructing a bunker or bug-out retreat is a big step for any prepper. This article should provide you with basics to understand what it all implies and how to decide what you need. You have info on how to find a builder and what you need to have in your bunker. Keep in mind that this can be a big investment and you have to plan ahead before going into construction. Think about all your needs and plan every aspect of the design and construction. You don’t want to make mistakes when it comes to the safety of your family.
Stay safe and God Bless!
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