Fallout Shelter Checklist

Fallout Shelters Now?

While seemingly the hobby of eccentrics, home fallout shelters are not the worst idea to consider. The possibility of warfare, radiation, power reactor failures or other sources of fallout are not entirely far-fetched. In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. government put out many pamphlets concerning building and stocking fallout shelters in case of nuclear war. While that threat has substantially receded, it is not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Does this Spark an idea?

The Basics

Food, waste and water comprise the basics. In terms of water supplies, the basic rule of thumb is roughly one gallon of water per day per person. Large, clean garbage cans might do well for this. For food supplies, you cannot beat the military’s Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), which are very nutritious and have a very long shelf life. Stock up on these in addition to the staple canned goods. It is advisable to get a campground style toilet with chemicals, available from any camping store.


There are many options to make sure the air remains more or less fresh. Vents were always recommended in the construction of a shelter, but even small chinks in the wall are also considered serviceable. Air purifiers and fresheners are always recommended. Small electric heaters are cheap and widely available. Any fallout shelter should have at least one electric outlet. If radiation should penetrate the shelter in significant amounts, it is always a good idea to stock up in potassium iodine pills to mitigate its effects.

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The Entrance

The entrance to the shelter should have at least one right-angle turn. Radiation often travels in a straight line and therefore, does not navigate corners well. Therefore, the more corners you have, the less radiation can penetrate the shelter. The opening should not be more than two feet wide in most cases.

Radio and Cell Reception

Inside a fallout shelter, cell reception will likely be minimal. However, it may be wise to install an antenna for radio reception to keep up with the news and the condition of the country in the event of an emergency. The technology here is far better than it was in the 1960s. If your shelter is part of the home basement (which is far more cost effective than a separate area), the cell reception problem might not be an issue.


Flashlights and lanterns are necessary for anytime a bright light is needed. Campground style light sticks might be an excellent alternative to candles. For day to day living, all that is necessary is a low light. There are many options for cost effective lighting. It is possible that a small generator might work to provide power, and solar generators are available. Never use open flames in the shelter for any reason.


Rationing, sanitation and housekeeping are far more important for extended stays in a shelter than is often thought. A rationing plan and the division of labor is regularly stressed in government pamphlets concerning shelter life and maintenance. These should be planned in advance. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was not uncommon to find families practicing for shelter life though planning how things like human waste were to be processed.

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