Having a bunker built in your home could be the fastest, easiest, and most comfortable way to face a SHTF scenario without leaving your property.
Maybe some of you don’t know that there is a European country with bunkers in quite all over private estates. This country is Switzerland.
Back to the Cold War
A 1960 Swiss law, revised over the decades, states that it’s mandatory to build a bunker inside each structure existent on the Federal territory.
Article 46 of the Federal Law on Civil Protection Systems: “the owner who builds a residential building must create a shelter there and equip it […] the Municipalities ensure that areas where the number of protected places is insufficient have sufficient equipped public shelters“.
Back in 2006, Switzerland had 300,000 shelters spread among private and public buildings.
Additionally, there were over 5,000 public shelters for a total of 8.6 million protected places.
This was equal to a coverage ratio of 114 percent: 1.4 protected sites per inhabitant. Quite impressive.
Switzerland represents a unique and surprising case in the whole world regarding bunkers and emergency preparedness. Fallout shelters in Switzerland can accommodate the entire population in case of any SHTF scenario you could envision.
The Golden Age of bunkers in Switzerland
The planned construction of fallout shelters in Switzerland began only in the second half of the 1960s, when “Neutrality does not guarantee against radioactivity” used to be one of the mottos of those days.
The Swiss government opted out of significant conflicts as they wanted to be better safe than sorry, focusing its commitments and economic efforts on building bunkers.
The construction of shelters in Switzerland reached its peak in the mid-1970s. Back in those days, 380.000 protected places were built each year. Nowadays, today the numbers are around 50,000 bunkers per year.
The public shelters were built to blend thoroughly with the urban environment. For example, a ramp in the city of Lugan leads to an underground structure. This subterranean town consisted of standard rooms, dormitories, equipped kitchens, and command offices.
They are not only perfectly concealed with the metropolitan area on the surface, and they are 100% autonomous, functional, and still perfectly maintained.
They include roomy kitchens, large and comfortable living spaces equipped with all sorts of furniture and other items you would find in modern homes nowadays. All bathrooms have running hot water thanks to large boilers being incorporated in each structure.
There are multiple water tanks containing thousands of liters of water, making it possible to survive for extended periods without worrying about running out of water.
The diesel generator allows the population to survive for weeks, and the walls will turn into green phosphorescent paintings, equipped with dynamo torches in case of an external, extended blackout.
Each fallow shelter also has a room with stockpiled food, pots, cutlery, even coffee machines, and “a menu of the day.”
Inside bunkers, the most critical issue is represented by having clean air 24/7. Therefore, in case of a large-scale chemical attack or any terroristic attack involving poisonous gas, all the air coming from the outside is filtered through specific air-filtration systems equipped with high technology filters.
Moreover, all the bunkers have a command area, which is inaccessible to the population. It is a determined locked-up room that would host the emergency management’s elites. It is equipped with everything needed to contact the outside world, and it has computers and various electronic systems that can withstand an EMP attack.
Besides having a meeting room, the command area has two other rooms. The first is provided by the broadcasting center, with screens, computers, radios, telephones, and other communication devices. This is a functional room needed to communicate with the outside world, and it will stay operational no matter the SHTF emergency unfolding.
The commander-in-charge room is the only single room in the whole bunker. It consists of a desk, some maps of Switzerland, a personal computer, a nightstand, and a bed.
In a few words, the Swiss Government settled up everything ready for an upcoming apocalypse.
Private houses bunkers
Globally speaking, the Swiss are some of the people who spend the most money to secure themselves against everything and everyone, over 20% of their budget.
Besides their will to do so, they also have to, as stated by law.
Each inhabitant is required to have a protected place that can be reached shortly from within the home.
Additionally, property owners are required to “build and equip shelters in all new residential buildings” (Articles 45 and 46 of the Federal Law on Protection of the population and civil protection).
These spaces are called domestic shelters, and each owner can take refuge in them in case of bombing, chemical attack, earthquake, or other apocalyptic disasters.
The Swiss people can also keep weapons in their bunkers, and all such shelters have an equipped armory. Military service is mandatory in Switzerland, and, at the end of it, each citizen is not only allowed but must bring home all their weapons (including ammo and even grenades) and take proper care of them.
The organization of private bunkers is different from public shelters. They look more like cellars, with thick security doors. Condos (with approximately 25 tenants) usually have a unique, shared space, equipped with a ventilation system, completed by a gas filter. They don’t have kitchens nor a command post.
Thick walls and long-life food supplies room are the only essential elements that can identify these underground spaces as de facto shelters.
Inside single houses, taking care of electricity, water, and ventilation systems is all up to the owner.
The medium income in Switzerland is one of the highest in Europe. This allows the inhabitants to consider a possible apocalypse pretty seriously when it comes to renovating their bunker in the best way money can buy.
Equipping private bunkers with the best devices on the market is an activity that requires time, professionalism, and dedication.
In wooden and mountaineer areas, issues related to humidity are the most common problems and quite critical. Humidity can spoil furniture and stockpiled food, gear, weapons, and ammo as well.
For this reason, dehumidifiers are some of the most commonly purchased items, along with watertight boxes, which ensure the proper maintaining of the materials, tanks for water, and generators.
Military bunkers are scattered all over Switzerland. I had the chance to visit one (as you can see in this video) at the peak of Gotthard Pass, at 7000 feet of altitude.
Inside the fascinating caverns of “Sasso da Pigna” Mountain, there is the most articulated, underground defensive fortification located in Switzerland. Back in the day, it was built to defend the country and work as a top-secret location. Now it has been turned into a museum.
Nonetheless, some of the former military shelters have now remained empty and unused. Given the high maintenance costs, the Swiss Army decided to sell them to the highest bidder, and it seems to be working great for them as they sell about twenty each year.
The Swiss Army has no power in intervening in the assignment of their new function. Taking advantage of that, several figures with different backgrounds (philosophers, researchers, photographers, architects, artists) showed off great interest.
They turned such bunkers into personal projects, and some were transformed into multifunctional spaces like theatres, exposition areas, and so on. There are some the were even turned into swimming pools.
Comparison with other European Countries
In some cases, for reasons related to lack of space or initial structural planning, it was not possible to have a mandatory private shelter inside a building. Therefore, Swiss law requires the citizens without access to a shelter to pay an annual fee of 676 euros (around $815) which guarantees “the presence of a safe place in public emergency facilities.” As you can imagine, this weights consistently on federal budgets.
Simply considering the costs of maintaining and constructing new sites, the figure is about a few million euros a year. The ministry must reserve a fixed annual budget for the management of these shelters. More generally, the costs related to defense account for 20 percent of the federal budget.
Only Sweden and Finland are challenging Switzerland when it comes to bunker building. However, with their 7.2 million protected seats and 3.4 million respectively (equivalent to coverage of approximately 81% and 70%), they could aim exclusively for a second-place no matter how much they invest in bunkers and emergency shelters.
Elsewhere, the situation varies. For example, in Germany, the coverage ratio at the national level is only 3%. In Austria, the coverage reaches 30%, but most shelters are not equipped with a ventilation system. In Norway, the governing authorities in 1998 repealed the obligation to build bunkers.
Switzerland still leads by example worldwide when it comes to building bunkers and assuring protection for their citizens. The government keeps on voting for the utility of shelters, not only in the event of an armed conflict but also in dealing with possible terrorist attacks with nuclear weapons, chemical accidents, or natural disasters.
Swiss fallout shelters still have a bright future ahead.
This article has been written by Kyt Lyn Walken for Prepper’s Will.
Suggested resources for preppers: