Peter Larson, a Utah survivalist with a home and family, gave CNN a tour of his elaborate $65,000 bunker he built in the mountains in preparation for what he called “the last days.” There are even developers building luxury underground condos inside abandoned missile silos that stretch 175 feet underground, and cost upwards of $2 million per unit.
But you don’t have to break the bank to build an underground shelter that will keep you and the family safe in the event of nuclear holocaust, extinction-level meteorite impact and/or full-fledged police state oppression. All you need is a decent-sized backyard and the will to survive.
You want your bunker to be a total secret, or known to exist by as few people as possible. When it hits the fan, and desperate neighbors are trying to escape nuclear radiation or government tyranny, the first place they will come knocking is your bunker. That said, try and be as discreet as possible when digging the hole. You can do it the old-fashioned way by hiring workers to dig with shovels, or have dig parties with friends who are guaranteed a spot in the bunker when it becomes necessary. A small excavator can be rented for as little as $50 per hour. The bunker should be 10 feet deep minimum, but for maximum protection from just about anything, go to at least 20 feet.
Nukemap is an app that can simulate what would happen if a 100 megaton nuclear bomb was detonated in a given area. For instance, if one were dropped in New York City, nearly 8 million people would be instantly incinerated, while 4 million more would suffer serious injuries. The residual radiation from the bomb would linger anywhere from a few minutes to several years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Radiation Emergency Medical Management. The King County, Wash., Health Department recommends a concrete shield to protect yourself from gamma rays.
Get quotes from several concrete contractors who will also reinforce the walls with steel. The American Concrete Institute says that steel-reinforced concrete walls have 20 times the compressive strength (weight capacity) of normal concrete. This will not only come in handy if an initial nuclear blast is within a few miles of your bunker, but will serve as a near-impenetrable radiation shield. Make sure to leave small openings for an air filtration system, sewage elimination and even a spout to capture rain water for drinking.
The last major expense will be for supplies. Batteries, food and water are the items you will want the most. Remember you may not be able to leave the shelter for a year in the event of nuclear holocaust. The bare minimum amount of water humans need to survive is about 68 ounces (two liters) per day, according to Human Rights Watch. This means each person needs about 180 gallons of water to survive for a year. Contrarily, humans can survive for weeks without food. Dried (i.e. jerky) and canned foods are best, as they can be stored at room temperature and will stay edible for years. Firearms, ammunition, flashlights, matches, hygiene and first-aid supplies are the other essentials.
All the aforementioned can be done for less than $10,000, if you exercise due diligence.
Steph is a warehouse manager by day who enjoys hunting and camping with her family.