Constructing a bunker is a long and expensive process. However, the payoff is that you and your family can shelter inside and be protected from outside threats.
The problem with relying on a bunker for your survival is that it will be more of a trap than your salvation unless appropriately stocked.
The good news is that all it takes is a little planning, common sense, and some imagination to construct your ultimate DIY bunker kit.
Before you start putting your kit together, you need to understand what emergencies and disasters you are preparing for. Usually, someone would build a bunker to protect their family from the effects of a nuclear attack.
Related: The First Thing You Should Do After a Nuclear Attack
Still, you should consider other disasters when building your kit. Earthquakes, hurricanes, civil unrest, flooding, EMP/CME, or a global pandemic are all considerations that you need to be making.
Another consideration is the number of people calling the bunker home in the event of a disaster. You should also include the possibility that extended family or friends may find themselves inside your bunker.
Food and Water
Food and water can seem like an obvious addition to a bunker kit. Still, there is much more to providing enough food and water than buying some bottled water and MREs.
One of the first things to consider as you plan your food storage is how long you expect to stay in the bunker.
Be realistic in the timelines you establish; staying underground for several years is not practical for most families.
Suppose you are preparing to survive a nuclear attack. In that case, the radiation levels from fallout will dissipate rapidly, so being prepared to call your bunker home for three to five weeks is a good start.
However, EMP/CME, pandemics and economic collapse will result in the need for self-reliance lasting much longer. Set a realistic upper limit to the time you expect to be in the bunker and set a goal to obtaining enough food and water for that time.
As you select foods, only choose ones that require little to no preparation and are shelf-stable for decades.
Canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried, or commercial MREs are all excellent options.
If the bunker is large enough, hydroponics and aquaponics could also be options to explore. Foods rich in iodine are great additions to your stockpiles.
They will help fill your thyroid with good iodine rather than radioactive iodine that you may be exposed to after a nuclear attack or accident.
Whatever you choose should provide enough calories per day to maintain health and fitness and be food your family would want to eat.
You’ll need to store at least one gallon of water per person per day. The need for water will result in significant logistical challenges especially considering the size of the required storage tanks.
For example, a family of four will need at least 120 gallons per month, almost 1000 pounds of water that you need to store and keep clean.
Related: How To Store 100 Gallons Of Water Using A WaterBOB
If your plan was to store three months of water, you would be looking at storing seven 55-gallon drums weighing almost 500 pounds each.
All food and water stores need to be protected from exposure to the outside, be it fallout, bacteria, viruses, or the elements. In the event your water finds itself contaminated, you need to have a robust method of filtering and purifying it.
There are a wide variety types and styles of water filtration and no matter which one you choose you need to have a minimum of two backup filter systems available.
You are not going to leave your pets outside the bunker, so you must have enough supplies for them and a plan for how to deal with their waste.
In addition, dogs will require regular exercise and be trained to go to the washroom inside the bunker in a designated area.
The bunker must pull its air from the outside, which means there needs to be a high-quality filtration system in place and a large stockpile of filters.
The filters that you use need to be able to trap radioactive particles, viruses, bacteria, and dust. As with any other survival supplies you need to also have a backup system in place.
Human Waste and Garbage
Spending weeks inside of a bunker will mean that you are going to have to dispose of human waste.
There are many ways to do this, and after you select the one that works best for you, you also need to have a secondary system in case the first one goes down.
Whatever event drove you to take shelter in your bunker will be chaotic and possibly involve injuries or contamination. You must include enough first-aid supplies to deal with all injuries and wounds you are trained to treat.
Related: DIY Dollar Store First Aid Kit
The critical thing to remember is that first aid supplies are consumables. When treating a trauma, you will go through many supplies that you will not get back. This is a case where having more is better.
Include prescription medication and a wide assortment of over-the-counter medicines. If you have children be sure to stock medicine appropriate for them. Remember that there will be no doctors that you can go to; you will be on your own.
If you are preparing for a nuclear attack, stock potassium iodide and methods of detecting radiation and monitoring radiation exposure.
In the event of fallout or pandemics, decontamination supplies are critical.
Remember that decontamination will happen every time someone enters the bunker, meaning that enough supplies to handle dozens of decontamination procedures are crucial.
Cleaning agents, Tyvek suits, gas masks/respirators, garbage bags, rubber gloves, duct tape, and rolls of vapor barrier are some of the items you should start with.
It is not enough to have the supplies; you need an area set aside and designated for decontamination.
Attached to this should be an area for quarantine as well. The locations for quarantine and decontamination should have their air supply isolated from the rest of the bunker and be vented directly to the outside.
Related: What’s The Closest Natural Nuclear Bunker to Your Home?
In addition, considerations need to be made for performing first-aid on contaminated people since they will need to be treated in isolation. The person treating them will need to be decontaminated and possibly quarantined before reentering the main areas of the bunker.
Provisions must also be made to launder any contaminated clothing and clean contaminated equipment.
You will be effectively cut off from the outside world when hiding in your bunker, so having a reliable way to maintain communications with the outside world is a critical consideration.
Amateur radios, shortwave receivers, CB/FRS/GRMS radios and even SDR receivers are essential to keep tabs on what is happening in the outside world, and establish communication with other survivors.
Living in a bunker with no source of electricity is a significant inconvenience.
It will deny you the ability to have reliable and safe lighting, the use of electric appliances, and the ability to keep battery-operated devices charged and ready to go. However, there are many ways to establish off-grid power.
You should find one that fits your situation and budget.
When the temperature drops, it is better to add layers of warm clothing than expend extra energy that is in short supply to heat the entire structure. Everyone should have enough warm clothing to make it through the chilly nights.
Bug Out Bags
You may need to leave the bunker due to attack or damage. Therefore, you must have bags packed with at least three days’ worth of food, water, clothing, and survival supplies for this event.
Gas masks, decontamination supplies, and protective clothing are essential for fallout but can also be helpful for pandemics as well.
Being stuck in a bunker will not be an enjoyable experience for anyone. Make sure that you have as many entertainment options as possible.
Suppose you have a reliable source of electricity. In that case, a TV and DVD player can make the long days inside the bunker a little easier.
Stuff breaks and having the tools to fix anything that breaks is essential to maintaining the bunker’s mechanical systems. Therefore, when building a tool kit, be sure that you have all the tools to disassemble and repair anything inside the bunker with you.
Stocking a bunker with supplies is as important as the bunker’s construction, and this is where you need to spend the time and attention to guarantee your survivability.
Along with building a kit, it is also critical that you conduct test runs of your bunker to find shortcomings before you need to count on the bunker for your survival.
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Chilly nights? The bunker is below the frost line. Naturally it will keep temp.
They’re the best if your looking to build. Why mess around.
Raven: Ground temps can be 40 degrees below surface temps. If you have fresh air coming in, and you’ll need it, you either waste fuel heating it, or dress warmer. this is how root cellars work, enough air exchange to get rid of any heat and gasses from ripe fruit and vegetables. BTW, you do have a root cellar, I hope. Even an above ground one will stay cool enough to store potatoes and so on.
Articles like this are fun….. the writer just puts the most general info about preparedness. Doesn’t include anything about a bunker but gives you the water is wet routine.
Come on at least include some “bunker ideas that work but i suppose if you invested the 10’s of thousand into a bunker . You might be smart enough to understand “store food…. water and stuff”
Sorry to the author…. you get the At least you tried award.
ravem: Stop drinking, then posting. This is a good outline and a generalization. You should be smart enough to figure things out for yourself.
red actually I am a little tired of articles titled “The Ultimate DIY Bunker Kit” that just describes what a bunker should have in general terms.
Gives me the idea maybe this author ACTUALLY Built one and was describing the excellent design he found or construction company he worked with.
If this article was titled “important things to plan for in a bunker”, THEN the article is spot on.
Sometimes even Raven gets it right. The we provoke him and he acts out again.
So far I am waiting to see if Chuck ever posts useful information on this list aside from sniping at folks. One can hope 🙂
Now I’d be thrilled if someone that actually has a bunker might describe how to keep themselves from being trapped inside it. A military bunker often has a fighting position to prevent folks from wandering over and laying a rather large breeching charge on the doors.
Michael: It’s all DIY. I live in Arizona, my needs would be much different from yours. If I lived 5-10 miles from here on the mountains, my needs would be a lot different from here, in the canyon. dz is different from my needs, and we live in the same planting zone. YOU tell me what you need and why. Post for your area. That’s the best way to get information. niio
red I’d start with Michael Ohler’s 50.00 dollars and up underground book.
I helped build a couple over the years. I lived in one for a couple of years in Idaho and can tell you an easy to keep warm and cool (yes hot Idaho summers are real) compared to a “Real House”. Some I was involved in in the 70″s are still lived in, a couple turned into greenhouses and barns.
Easily to defend. If I was going to deploy serious money and TIME (something nobody has enough of) doing a bunker it better be my home.
Michael: Yes, that rocks. I have U of NM’s tire house book and I’d love to build one. Dennis Miller, the actor, built a 2-story tire house decades ago and said it was the best place he ever lived in. If interested, they have low priced used copies here https://www.thriftbooks.com/browse/?b.search=tire%20house%20book#b.s=mostPopular-desc&b.p=1&b.pp=30&b.oos&b.tile
Underground is fantastic. I heard plenty of stories about tornadoes ripping thru towns but people in underground homes never knew one was in the area. niio
Real Question IS Quality of life
can you live like a rat , couped up , stuffed in a hole for a very long time ?
other question you have to ask is what is the value of life ?
then at what cost ? and is it really worth it ?
better to live short and live well , then to come out of the hole and live in hell on earth
the kill zone will be outside your door , fight for survival , and no hold s on what anyone will do
as each does what is right in thier own eye s and how they set their standard
who will be friend and who will be foe
one life will soon be past 30-100 year s , then the judgement will occurr and every intent of the heart will be exposed , the truth , the lie , and what you really believe in
until your on the brink of death , you will never contemplate what this means
Make the decision , while you can , make a difference while you can , and trust no evil empire of government s of greed , corruptions and secret agendas
where is my books?
Load up your kindle.
As an aside, it would be good to have these E-books for sale able to be loaded on a kindle.
mobi. is the format.
Got nothing to do with Amazon and everything to do with small charging electricity, good storage, and my bedtime reading habit.
I’ve had my Kindle for seven years now, no upsell/upgrades,
good battery life and very handy.
Same with my Nook. I have over 1500 books on it and more in my library. I’ll finally have time to read.
PS — not thinking of that one Twilight Zone ep
At least 2 great bunker Zones, the one where the guy comes out to discover everybody left the planet without him, and the one where the half blind bookworm survives WW3 in a bank vault, comes out rejoicing because now he has al the time in the world to read, then manages to step on and smash his glasses. There is a memorable chapter in The Stand where King chortles over all the stupid ways survivors of the SuperFlu find to die. Need a good life after the bunker book.
@ JoAnn HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA last weekened i showed that episode “Time Enough At Last” to my 14 yr old daughter, she was crushed, felt sorry for him
I appreciate the advice but MORE needs to be included such as recommended filtration systems, total waste removal as in a flush toilet IF water is available and how to remove it without detection, how long does pet food last before it goes bad, what is meant by laundering clothes, recommended ventilation filters and how much is exposed to others to see and recommendations on how to conceal, recommended power source and how to ventilate without detection and if gas is used, how much to store, etc. And, lastly, IS there a system that filters the air inside the bunker and replaces the exhaled air with fresh air or, better yet creates fresh air no matter the situation This last question seems out of left field but, I had to ask. I am brand new to all of this. I would appreciate follow up to these questions. Thank you.
Hope this helps!
If using a flush toilet, ALL wastes have to go thru a grinder. The end of the pipe must be hidden in a wastes field/bog or a stream. A composting toilet would be a great deal better.
Dry pet food will last months if stored in a cool, dry place.
Laundering, washing. A small hand-operated washer would be best. A scrubbing board is also good.
Air vents, as elderly folks in the family knew, can be quite a distance from the bunker. The more, the better because the smell of cooking off a batch is strong. Hidden vent pipes are not much of a problem. Air to be filters, the filtering system should be in the bunker. niio
Thanks for the information. I appreciate it. Any information on the other questions?
Watch atlas bunkers and he explains why you can’t go cheap on air filtration
I Cman: this is a book on building with used tires.
ventilation? what if someone discovered your vent pipes and poured a lot of volatile fuel and lit it up? a good reliable bunker is going to cost thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, otherwise you might as well build a very solid and deep root cellar with several feet of soil on top and use that.
dz that’s why you need something you can defend instead of a hideout bunker.
And as I’m not using taxpayer dollars it needs to be reasonably cheap and USEFUL for other things in addition to being a defensive structure.
Someone can still block your root cellar vents, if they wanted you out of there.
Michael, exactly my point. Unless you have a bunker set up as100% self-contained, like a submarine or the space station, then some of the weak points are the ventilation, any incoming water, and any exhausting system including sewage disposal. I can’t afford it either, and the only time I would even consider having a “bunker” would be as a storage area that can also be used as an emergency storm shelter, or even a last resort bomb shelter.
dz: Old-timers when they needed a vent for their still, would lay pipe for as far as they could and open it into a patch of brush. You might check out this, as well.
red, that is fine if you are trying to keep a moonshiner still from being noticed, but if you are relying on your “bunker” as a safe haven in what may have become a very hostile environment, and is in an area actively being searched by people that know how to forage and recon, or someone just stumbles upon it out of shear dumb-luck, then a vent pipe hidden in a patch of brush 500 yards away can still be discovered and become a deadly liability. Personally, I don’t want to hide in a bunker unless there is incoming bombs or missiles, and when deemed clear, get out of the bunker to avoid being trapped, assess that situation, and decide what’s best for me to do at that time.
dz: ever have a pack of lawmen looking for evidence? Trained professionals, not keystone kops. Cooking a batch has a very distinct smell and most still use oak or pine. How does air smell after it’s vented? There’s a world of difference between that and a still. If the law couldn’t find the pipe, why would untrained people discover an air pipe?
Poison ivy, cactus, thorn brush, and a host of things where snakes feel at home will be part of the cover. you don’t have just one pipe, but several.
I don’t have a bunker and do not want one. The tire house book is to give an idea, one more among many. Dennis Weaver (I said Miller, sorry) built a house out of tires, 2 stories, in Colorado. These are considered earthquake proof and in the ‘quake of ’86, Mexico City, where long-standing buildings crumbled, these didn’t fail. niio
Tire house would burn
red, they may not be Law Enforcement or Active-Duty Military, just guys that know how, and they may have infrared sensors, metal detectors, and/or other devices, they may bring K9’s, and well-trained dogs will find many scents and track them. If your intake, exhaust, conduits for wiring, or any other type of access to the interior of a bunker is not completely sealed and not accessible without digging or breaching, they can be found, and if your trapped inside, then it becomes a fight to the death, probably from asphyxiation toxins, fire, or just good old fashioned undermining or breaching, which is better to avoid, so don’t trap yourself in a bunker if you are being actively “hunted” unless you have no other options.
Why put so ,much effort into some guys bunker. Plenty of low hanging fruit around instead.
Doubt anyone would be hunting for bunkers though.
dz: I’m talking professional law enforcement trained to detect. Treasury Dept., FBI investigators. Dogs. Even pigs have been used. niio
raven: Better rethink that. No one’s tire house ever burned. Tell me how.
Tires fires burn hot. But go for it
Raven: Agreed, tires burn hot, they also crumble when exposed to the sun. Now, think! How would you prevent that in a house built of them?
Good point. I never thought of that.
X-spurt, because it’s there. 😈💀
Nobody is going to hunting for bunkers and if you where stupid enough to let everyone know about your bunker then that’s on you.
Nobody cares about busting into some bunker. Which target to do want to mess with. The guys house with some food and slave kids and wife. Or a guy whom spent the money to get prepared and has trained with weapons better then your nra pistol instructor guide. Let’s face it you be a idiot to attack them when again the low hanging fruit is out there.
“Charlie Foxtrot” X-spurt, I never did say anything about hunting “some guy’s house”, that’s on you, but that’s right, you read minds and know everything about everything, but don’t worry, nobody with any real intelligence will let you be involved even if you wanted to.
Now let’s see, if you wanted to find some really worthwhile “bunkers”, what would you do? I might consider trying to gather intel on “Big Brother” storage facilities, and evaluate the risk/reward ratio, then confirm with recon and overwatch, make some plans (yes, plural), could probably use some hackers / electronics saboteurs, equipment operators, a decent combat engineer, and ordnance/demolition guys as well, and guess what? It may all come down to something as simple as hacking into the electronics, cutting off the air, water, and/or power, or plugging up the exhaust ports for air and/or sewage, flooding every access you can find, or maybe even undermine if you have enough equipment or available water to divert and flood out or compromise the structural integrity. Depending on the intel it might even be an option to instead infiltrate and “open the doors” from the inside. You are definitely not invited, no whiner “Charlie Foxtrot” X-spurts allowed, you would be a liability, not an asset.
I hope when TSHTF that we all get along better than we do disputing over one person’s theoretical bunker ideas.
Kudos to the mention of Mike Oehler (RIP). He had a pretty good sense of humor and was his own man, not sparing any culture or society. Hilarious. I spoke with him only briefly when I ordered the $500 Underground House book.
I watched For A Few Dollars More this past weekend on the Stupid Box, realized I have a new appreciation for adobe or at least the look of adobe. I believe an adobe finish on the inside of a bunker could be therapeutic. A few happy little trees painted in there would break up the uniformity. That much white, you’re approaching some of the movie sets like the Mos Eisley cantina/2001: A Space Odyssey/Alien…
I appreciate your comments. Work together with no verbal combat. You have a good mindset.
The description of this bunker, sounds a lot like my basement, only my basement also has a full-service bar. Some would call it a basement apartment or simply an extended family room, but I call it a ratskeller.
I doubt that most people or family could make a bunker to survive a nuke fallout or even one to survive 30-45 days in. I have built an off grid trailer and tried to set up for a few weeks off grid. A definite challenge. With every trip I find a flaw, and fortunately haven’t been hurt. I had a few real cold nights, loss of water storage,( that also caused sanitation problems). I recommend building and test and test again. One trip I had one nut loosen and I almost lost an axel. I have learned a lot and still a rookie. I’m retired on a fixed income now which is a whole new survival scenario.
My thoughts about this group is inspiring. Maybe less name calling and bashing.
First time calling Mr Obvious.