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Location, Location, Location: Where to Build Your Bomb Shelter

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Whether you’ve chosen to purchase a prefabricated bomb shelter, to hire a contractor, or to simply build it yourself, it is necessary to put some thought and research into the final location. The location you choose for your bomb shelter should be one which gives you the greatest protection possible. In choosing the optimal place to build, you will need to consider the terrain, water levels, and distance from other structures, including the location of sewer and electrical lines.

A helpful rule of thumb is one of the three keys to surviving a nuclear attack: shielding. In choosing the location of your shelter, try to strategically place it so that there is as much mass as possible between your shelter and the location of the blast. The first step is to identify potential nuclear bomb targets near your home. Likely targets include:

  • Strategic missile sites and military bases.
  • Centers of government such as Washington, DC, and state capitals.
  • Important transportation and communication centers.
  • Manufacturing, industrial, technology, and financial centers.
  • Petroleum refineries, electrical power plants, and chemical plants.
  • Major ports and airfields.

For example, the lower edge of a hill would be an excellent place for your bomb shelter if there is a major airport in the distance on the other side of the hill. Also take into consideration the location of sewer, electrical, and cable lines. From anywhere in the United States you can call 8-1-1 several days prior to digging. They will notify your local utility companies and send a locator to mark the location of all underground lines, pipes, and cables, so that you can dig safely.

The fallout aspect is easier to take into consideration; because fallout will fall straight to the ground like snow, you won’t receive much protection from any hill, mountain, or man-made structure. Rather, you need simply to ensure that your shelter is at least 36 inches below the surface of the ground.

Once you have settled on a general location that seems satisfactory, consider the terrain and the water levels at various times of the year. How deeply does the soil freeze? A deep freeze may cause shelter walls to crack. Your shelter needs to be placed so that heavy rainfall will drain away from it, rather than toward it. If you live in an area with a high water table (the water table being the level below which the ground is saturated with water), you must be prepared to factor in the extra time and expense of pumping out the excess water until the hole is dry and no longer filling with water. A hole dug in an area with a high water table that has not been properly pumped can cause the entire shelter to float or allow water to seep in, in addition to preventing concrete from setting properly. Do your homework ahead of time to ensure that your shelter is not more dangerous than whatever you are sheltering from.