A nuclear blast creates radioactive fallout that will fall to earth for days, weeks or even months after the blast. A nuclear fallout shelter will protect you from the radioactive fallout of nuclear war.
This nuclear fallout trench shelter is simple to construct, but effective at blocking radiation from fallout. It is designed as a trench dug in the ground, covered with a 1 metre thick earth roof. This depth of earth will protect the shelter’s occupants from radiation due to nuclear fallout.
A trench shelter is not a permanent shelter. Instead it is designed to be quick and easy to build when there is a threat of nuclear war. It is not a large, comfortable shelter, but it will protect its occupants from fallout.
Building A Nuclear Fallout Shelter
Dig A Trench
The trench will form the interior of the shelter. Dig the trench so that it is about 1.5 metres (5 feet) wide at the top. Make the sides slope slightly so the trench is about 1 metre wide at the bottom. This will help to prevent the sides from collapsing. If the soil is not very stable, you will have to make the sides slope more.
If necessary, you can line the trench sides with sheets of plywood to keep loose soil from falling in. Brace the plywood against the sides of the trench with wood between them at the top and bottom.
Make the trench long enough to accommodate everyone who will be in the fallout shelter. The more room each person has, the more comfortable it will be. Add extra length to each end of the trench for the entrances/exits. The exits will be vertical at each end of the trench. For additional protection from radiation, make a 90o turn in the trench before each exit. Gamma radiation travels in straight lines, and the corners would block it from entering the trench.
Build Roof Structure
The structure of the roof is made from logs or sturdy poles that go across the top of the trench. The logs should be at least 1 metre (3 feet) longer than the width of the top of the trench. The extra length is to support the ends of the logs on the ground at each side of the trench. Cover the trench, apart from the exits, with logs. Fill gaps in the logs with cloth or moss to stop soil falling through when you begin to cover them.
Cover With Earth Mound
Use the soil excavated from the trench to cover the logs with an earth mound. Add a plastic sheet once you have piled up a little earth. The plastic provides a waterproof layer within the shelter roof. Continue to build the earth mound on top.
The earth mound should be rounded with the highest point over the middle of the logs. This will allow “earth arching”, whereby the soil compacts in the arched shape, taking some of the structural load to support itself. The highest point should be about 1 metre (3 feet) tall.
Cover The Entrances
Add a cover over each entrance to help stop rain and fallout particles from getting in to the shelter. Make sure that you don’t block all air flow into the shelter though. Without enough air flow, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide will quickly build up.
You can add ventilation to your shelter by building a Kearney Air Pump. A Kearney Air Pump is a small door, hinged at the top, with slats. There is a string attached to the inside, which is used to pull the door in, released and repeated. When the door swings in, the slats close, pulling air in. When the door swings out, the slats open. This makes the pump move air in one direction. Instructions for building a Kearney Air Pump.
It will be dark in your shelter. Consider keeping small battery powered lamps with several sets of spare batteries so that you can have some lighting. Store them in a Faraday bag so that they aren’t damaged if there is an EMP.
Stocking Your Nuclear Fallout Shelter
Once you are in your fallout shelter after nuclear weapons have been used, you need to stay in it. Therefore, you need to have everything that you need in there already. The most important considerations are water and food. Make sure that you have enough water and food to last at least 48 hours and ideally longer.
Make sure that you have your Geiger counter in your fallout shelter too, so that you can measure radiation levels when you come out.
How To Make A Larger Nuclear Fallout Shelter
The shelter described in this article is a small one. It is quick and easy to make, but not very comfortable inside. If you have more time, you can make this shelter larger by digging a wider trench. The poles covering the top of the trench should be long enough to have at least 50cm resting on the ground at either side of the trench.
In a wider trench shelter, you may have room for narrow bunks on one side for seating and sleeping. This would make spending time in the shelter a little more comfortable.
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