Underground Bunkers: Are They Suitable For Long Term Survival?

Underground Bunkers Long Term Survival

Going to ground, or underground as the case may be, has been a survival tactic since humans began roaming the earth. Underground is, and has been, the preferred way to protect humans from aerial bombs, radioactive fallout, from chemical attacks and even from certain biological contaminates. Underground bunkers however, are not perfect, and they are not for everyone.

Are They Suitable For Long Term Survival?

Today’s underground shelters, as they are called, are not your granddad’s bomb shelter that was popular during the cold war era. Even though the bomb shelters constructed during the 1950’s and placed in the backyard were touted as long term shelter options, they really were not for long term survival however. The shelters were designed to shield the family or a group during bombing raids and from nuclear fallout.

The waste management system was a bucket and special bags, or chemicals, and gas masks would have been used to protect you from airborne contaminates. The only food and water available was what you had stockpiled. Canned water and canned rations were the staples. Spam on crackers anyone, the food had to be shelf stable, and at the time canned foods were essentially the only option.

If you have the money and the real estate today, you can build or have built an underground bunker that could in theory, sustain you for years. You can even buy a bunker apartment for when the SHTF. The underground living communities are self sustaining however.

The bunker cities would have hydroponic growing systems, air purification filters, oxygen generating systems, and UV lights in place to purify the air. The bunkers would have their own power plants, food production and waste management systems.

The biggest problem would be fuel for the power generators, because you cannot rely on one method only. Solar is fine as long as there is sunlight, but what happens if a volcano erupts and the ash cloud blocks the sun’s rays.

Wind power is another option, but maintenance is a problem, as well as lack of wind, and the systems of course would have to be above ground, creating another dilemma, because someone would have to suit up and go outside with wrench in hand.

Wells could be under the bunker along with special septic systems to handle the waste. A certain amount of the garbage generated would probably be incinerated in some of the larger underground bunker communities, and/or there may be composting going on to break down the organic waste so it could be incorporated into the hydroponics system. Everything we take for granted today has to be incorporated in the bunker.

You cannot live for long anywhere without a food and water system in place to sustain you, and that system must be renewable for long term survival.

A so-called stay put shelter would be cost prohibitive for most people, and it would be impossible to build one without neighbors and local authorities knowing about it. Security once a disaster does strike is an important consideration. If everyone knows you have a state-of-the-art stand alone stay put shelter, you may get a few knocks on the door during a crisis.

Most of us do not have to worry about self-sustaining or renewable sources right now. The grocery stores and farmers take care of that for us, but when the stores are shuttered and the wheat and corn fields are charred and the soil contaminated, what would you do, what would we all do.

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on a bunker. If you run out of food and water and do not have a way of replenishing vital supplies then what do you have.

Determine Your Need Then Decide

An underground bunker, properly constructed, would protect you from a nuclear blast provided you were in the bunker before the blast. However, if a nearby city was bombed then you move to the bunker for protection from the radioactive fallout.

Having a bunker that is accessible from inside your home is ideal, but this would require considerable planning and complicated construction methods. Having a bunker at your bug-out-location is fine as long as you can get there. However, if the bunker is 200 miles away and a nuclear blast occurs between you and your bunker, where does that leave you?

You would have to be able to get to any shelter during an attack and of course the closer the better. The bunker apartments that some companies offer may afford you the protection needed, but you still have to get there during an attack.

A bunker would protect you from a tornado and some homes in areas prone to tornados have special bunkers or rooms just for protection from a tornado. However, a traditional tornado shelter is only designed for a few hours of occupancy.

Would an underground bunker protect you from a wildfire? One may, but for how long. The air filtration system could be overwhelmed quickly, and the fire may very well destroy any above ground power generating systems. Soil does trap heat so the depth of the bunker is important as well.

A bunker would not provide much protection from an earthquake, but it is possible that after the earthquake you could use it as a shelter. You could be trapped in one however, because of the damage created if you ran to it during the initial shock waves. Aftershocks could buckle the entrance/exit or topple trees or buildings preventing you from exiting, or the earthquake may even heave the bunker out of the ground.

Underground bunkers would not offer much protection from a flood and the water could even cause your bunker to float to the surface. Of course, much depends on the bunker. You would have to have one constructed with specific disasters in mind, because each one requires specific construction methods to ensure they can withstand the crisis and protect you.

Bunkers would protect you from civil unrest as long as there is not a targeted attack against the bunker. Solar panels, wind turbines, and any power generating systems above ground could be vandalized. You could be “starved out” as well, while this would be extreme, it is something that is a possibility if you come under siege.

Security

Only one way in and out is counter to any sensible security measures. The exit could be blocked due to the disaster or blocked by someone or a group, thus, trapping you inside. The entrance/exit could be breached, as well, allowing others inside, and if you only had one door in and out, then you have problems. Ideally you would have a backdoor, as well as, an emergency escape hatch.

Having the means to monitor the exits from inside the bunker would be sensible but costly. You could check for hazards before opening the hatch, so having a camera system in place would be ideal.

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Duct Tape Arrow Fletching

Duct Tape: Its Survival Uses Are Nearly Endless

Duct tape is cloth or scrim-backed pressure-sensitive tape usually coated with polyethylene. Powdered aluminum pigment gives traditional duct tape its silvery gray color. Duct tape, as most know it, is traditionally gray or black, but today it comes in multiple colors.

How It Got Its Start

During World War II, Revolite, at the time a division of Johnson & Johnson, developed an adhesive tape made from a rubber-based adhesive that was applied to a durable “duck cloth” backing. The tape was water resistant.

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Hammock for SHTF

Is a Hammock a Viable Option: Should You Carry One?

If you carry a hammock, should you carry a tent as well? Remember, you have to carry all the options you have given yourself in your pack, and weight is always a major consideration, so plan carefully if you have a choice as to what to carry.

In a survival situation a hammock is ideal, particularly if the ground is wet, rocky, or uneven. You wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time hunting for the ideal “flat spot” for a tent. A hammock can be made from a sturdy tarp and stout cordage if you find yourself in a survival situation and an additional tarp can be used to protect you in your hammock from the rain and dew.

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Smartphone GPS Apps

GPS Apps for Your Smartphone: Do You Need One?

It’s all about technology and when it fails, it can leave you stranded. Do you have a backup plan? Some experts claim that standalone handheld GPS systems are a thing of the past, because of advances in Smart Phone technology. There is an app for everything it seems, but do you need a GPS app.

When you purchase a handheld GPS device you buy it for one purpose only, and you expect it to work virtually anywhere, because GPS is after all, an acronym for Global Positioning System.

The typical GPS system relies on a network of satellites, up to 24 in some cases, placed into orbit by the U.S. Department of Defense. The technology was originally intended for military applications but in the 1980’s the government made the technology available for civilian applications. A GPS system is designed to work in any weather conditions, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. There are no subscription fees or setup charges to use a GPS.

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What to Do If You Lose Power and Heat

Ice Storm Power Outage

Losing power at anytime can create serious disruptions in your everyday life, however, when it is cold out it not only creates disruptions it can become deadly. Ideally, you are prepared for disruptions in cold weather, and have paid particular attention to keeping everyone warm during a power outage.

Things You Can Do before the Power Goes Out

If the local forecast calls for weather that could disrupt your power such as ice and heavy snows, you can take steps before the power goes that will be beneficial to you during the outage.

Turn up your refrigerators and freezers to the highest setting. You want the foods inside as cold as possible for when the power does go out. Considering combing contents into one refrigerator or freezer because the more food items inside of a freezer or refrigerator the longer the foods will maintain a safe temperature. Remember to turn down the settings when the power is restored.

Once the power goes out avoid opening the doors. Refrigerators if full can maintain a safe temperature in some cases up to 6 hours, while a full freezer can maintain safe temperatures up to 48 hours and one that is half full up to 24 hours.

Any perishable foods that have been stored above 40° F for more than two hours will need to be discarded.

Make sure all cell phones and other devices are fully charged before the power goes out, and check all flashlights and other battery operated devices.

Fill your bathtubs with water to use for toilet flushing and other sanitation needs. You can use the water for drinking only after proper purification unless you use a waterBOB.

If you rely on electricity for your heat then you will need to essentially close off portions of the home to conserve what heat is in the home. If you have a wood burning fireplace, or have a gas burning one then of course, this would be the room to gather in, otherwise pick a room that everyone can stay in and likely sleep in as well.

Your emergency supplies should have Mylar emergency blankets, wool blankets, sleeping bags, and consider bubble wrap as well. Bubble wrap can be used as an insulator between you and the floor. The material of course is made of air filled chambers. The air chambers will provide insulation and cushioning for sleeping.

The wrap can also be placed over windows to reduce heat conduction. Cut the wrap to fit and then wet the glass slightly and then place the wrap over the glass, it will cling to the glass.

People that are chilled or you suspect may be in the early stages of hypothermia can be wrapped in the material to help control the core body temperature in an emergency.

Hang Mylar or other blankets in doorways to reflect heat back into the room you are staying in and they can be placed over windows and outside doors as well.

Water pipes may freeze so make sure they are well insulated, and if you still believe they may freeze during an outage you can shut off the main water supply and open all faucets to drain the lines. Make sure you shut off the power to the hot water tank before shutting off the main water supply. The water in the tank will stay warm for hours, so it can be used for bathing and other needs or used as an emergency drinking water source after it has been filtered and purified. Attach a hose to the drain spigot to get water from the tank once you have shut off the main water supply. 

Snow banks can be used as emergency refrigerators during a power outage. Try to find areas that receive the least amount of sunshine. Radiant heat from sunlight will warm up surfaces beyond what the air temperature is. This is why you will see snow melting on surfaces even when the air temperature is below freezing. The food items will need to be under as much snow as possible and in waterproof containers.

Snow can be melted for drinking water but it must be warmed before drinking so you do not lower your core body temperature. If there are no obvious contaminates melted snow can generally be consumed without purification. However, if you suspect contamination then purify the water. If the snow has been contaminated with any chemicals then it cannot be used for any purposes. Do not consume water from melted icicles that hang from the roofline without purifying first.

Small propane heaters that are rated for indoor use will typically have a low oxygen shutoff valve. The valve will not allow a flame when there is not enough fresh oxygen in the room. Always use any heating device with caution and kerosene heaters, charcoal Hibachis and other fossil fuel devices should never be used in any confined space.

Consider a Generator

A transfer switch can be added so the generator is essentially wired to the home’s electrical system but this must be done by a professional. If you do it yourself and it is not done properly electricity generated can flow back through the lines hurting anyone working on the lines. This is important.

Fuel Supply for Heat and Cooking

If you have a wood fireplace then you will need an ample supply of wood that is accessible. Before the storm bring some wood close to the house so you do have to carry it through the snow or try to navigate icy surfaces with an armload of wood.   

One pound propane bottles are the only containers rated for indoor use and they can be used with camp stoves and small heaters as well as lanterns. 

Avoid outside as much as possible, because ice and snow or broken limbs may have brought power lines down. Ice sliding off of roofs can be a hazard as well, not to mention falling trees and limbs because of heavy layers of ice buildup.

To protect your electronic devices you should connect your devices to surge protectors of good quality. Unplugging the devices can prevent damage from power surges once power is restored.

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Winter Checklist for Your Vehicles

Winter Checklist Vehicles

Cold weather is on its way, so is your vehicle ready for cold mornings and snowy or icy roads. Are you ready for cold weather? It is time to inventory your vehicle’s emergency gear and to pull out the swimsuits and sandals and replace them with cold weather clothing. Vehicle maintenance is important as well, and so there are certain things that should be checked before the first cold snap.

Already you may be thinking, “Really another checklist for winter driving”. Yes, there are hundreds, if not thousands of articles out there on this very subject, and yet every year people jump in their cars and head out unprepared.

They wear their office/work clothing and inadequate footwear when snow and ice storms are predicted, because they think it is only a few miles to work and I can beat the storm. Many have no gloves, hat, or any cold weather survival gear in their vehicles.

Some end up stranded, and this is when tragedy strikes, and so yes, another article, call it a friendly reminder, if you will, that nature is unforgiving and we are not yet able to control it or even forecast it very well.

1.) Depending on your location, you may be required to have snow chains available. Signs usually go up stating they are needed to proceed along the highway or road, so you better have them if you live in certain parts of the country.

Keep in mind studded tires are not a replacement for chains if tire chains are called for. Typically, there is a weight requirement when it comes to studded tires, some states do not allow them on vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Obviously, make sure the tires themselves are serviceable, because worn tires are a hazard regardless of the weather.

All wheel drive vehicles are usually exempt from chain requirements, but check your state laws. There are only certain times of the year that you can drive with studded tires/chains so check first. Studded tires are not nearly as common as they were a few years ago, because of all wheel drive and advances in tire chain technology.

2.) Anti-freeze should be checked and it is always a good idea to have your system flushed and checked once a year. Adding anti-freeze on top of old anti-freeze or on top of water dilutes the solution and this could lead to problems when the cold gets extreme. You can check the solution yourself with a coolant tester available at any parts store or at many retail stores.

3.) Have cold weather shoes/boots in the vehicle. While you should always stay with the vehicle if it is safe to do so, you may have to hike out in some circumstances, or even explore in and around the vehicle so you need the proper footwear. You cannot walk on slippery surfaces with high heels and loafers and some people have been stranded, because their footwear would not let them get 10 feet from their vehicle if the ground is slick with ice or snow.

4.) Heavy coat, gloves, and hat should be in the vehicle as well as, blankets such as wool and/or Mylar solar blankets. Sleeping bags can also be used.

5.) A cell phone charger could be a lifesaver, so make sure you have the right one in the car, and having a spare battery is not a bad idea either. Batteries are expensive so it is not always practical to have extras lying around, but keep it in mind if you happen to find a deal on one. The point is you always need the means to communicate. You cannot let a dead battery come between you and survival.

6.) If you get stranded for more than a few hours you will need water for hydration. Have a gallon of fresh water on hand at all times. Break it up into bottles that can be carried with you, and in some cases you may have to protect it from freezing if your vehicle is left outside for an extended period in the cold.

7.) Food is important for morale. You won’t starve if you go for 24 or 48 hours without any, but you need it to keep your energy levels high, and to keep your spirits up. Food as it digests will also help maintain proper core body temperatures. When choosing, consider what effects the cold will have on your foods. It is not likely you would have the means to cook foods but some Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) will come supplied with a heater.

8.) Extra battery/battery pack and cables for jump starting a dead battery. You can jump start your vehicle battery from a spare battery if you have the cables. Battery packs can be used and the cables are already attached, but you have to match the cranking amps with your battery. In the manual for some packs the fine print may state works best or only works with six cylinder vehicles, so match the pack with your vehicle to ensure it has the power, because in some cases you only get one chance.

9.) Basic tool kit and other gear. Duct tape, small battery operated or hand crank radio with a weather station, multi-tool and small tool kit for minor repairs. Today’s cars are complicated and most repairs would be out of the question alongside the highway, but you can replace radiator hoses, or patch one that holds long enough to get you to a service station.

Make sure you know how to change a flat tire and that the jack and lug wrench are in the car and they actually match the vehicle. Carry matches, lighters, road flares, and signal flags, along with glow sticks, flashlights and candles in a metal can for emergency heat and light.

10.)  Do not get in a hurry and stay informed on weather conditions. Leave yourself plenty of time if you are worried about getting to work or to anywhere on time. You simply cannot rush when the roads are slippery and you need to be patient.

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Winter Checklist for the Home

Winter Checklist for the Home

It seems like the summers are getting shorter and the winters longer, but then again, we say this every year, and it may just seem that way as we get older. Nonetheless, winter is just around the corner, so it is time to start thinking about winterizing your home. Some things can wait, while others cannot.

1.) Garden hoses can be damaged if left exposed to the cold, so start thinking about storage places. In addition, if you have freeze proof spigots, hoses have to be uncoupled to allow the water to properly drain from the spigot to prevent freezing and bursting the line.

2.) Cover outdoor spigots with insulated covers as an added measure to prevent freezing.

3.) Lawn sprinkler/irrigation systems must be drained to prevent damage to the system.

4.) Crawl space vents will have to be closed or covered to keep cold air out of the crawl space. In warm weather, of course, the vents are opened to reduce moisture buildup which can lead to mold and mildew problems, not to mention moisture attracts insects in particular certain termites.

5.) Have your heating system checked before you need it. Heating and air conditioning service companies experience high demand for services during the first cold snap of the season, so get ahead of the rush.

6.) Make sure your gutters are cleaned out. Stopped up drain spouts will allow water to build up and if it freezes it can damage the roofline, soffits, and the guttering system itself.

7.) Prune back any branches that overhang the roofline. Snow and ice can weigh down even healthy limbs that right now do not seem to be a hazard, but once under strain from the weight of snow and ice could snap and damage the roof or walls of the home.

8.) Stock up on ice melt now, because as you know, the minute the first snow or ice is predicted people rush to the stores and clean out the supply. Retail stores never seem to have their act together when it comes to inventorying certain items, because if they order too much then they have to inventory a product that has only one use for a short period.

9.) Service your generators and stabilize the fuel. Make sure they work properly and that you have fresh fuel going into the colder months. Inspect your electrical cords for serviceability and if you had purchased appliances over the summer months, make sure you have electrical cords rated for the appliance and ensure your generator can handle the additional load.

10.) Check your water pipes insulation, and if you use heat tape make sure it is working by testing it before it gets cold.

11.) Inspect your hot water tank blanket, and if you do not have one it is recommended you do get one if your tank is located in a non-heated part of the home such as in the garage, basement, or crawlspace.

This may also be a good time to drain your tank to clear out the sediment. Too much build up in the bottom of the tank can have an effect on the efficiency, and may even cause damage, and in some cases the sediment may build up to the point you cannot drain the tank, because of a clogged spigot. In addition, if you need to use your hot water tank as an emergency water supply, you want it as sediment free as possible and of course you want the drain to work.

12.) If you have a wood burning fireplace or wood stove have your chimney cleaned and inspected for damage before your first fire. Creosote buildup as you know is dangerous and over time it will build up even if you only burned well seasoned wood. Seasoned wood will still have up to 20 percent moisture content which will cause a buildup.

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Survival Uses Tarps

5 Survival Uses for Tarps

If you have ever researched bug-out-bags, wilderness survival, and survival articles in general, you will find tarps listed as a survival must. There is a reason for this of course, because they are versatile. Emergency shelters usually come to mind, but they have other uses as well, many other uses.

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Preppers Seasonal Inspection

Preppers: Seasonal Inventory Inspection and Cleaning

Closer and closer to fall and then winter, so this means the seasons will change from oppressive heat to cooler and eventually to bitter cold in some parts of the country. In other parts of the country, the change will not be as dramatic, but change it will.

Changes in the weather means you have to change some of your gear out, or add some things to your emergency packs, things that may have been packed away all summer, and then you may have to pack certain other items away for the winter.

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Cotten Swabs Q-Tips

5 Survival Uses for Cotton Swabs (Q-tips)

For cleaning your ear canals right, well doctors do not recommend you put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Q-tips and ear canals do not mix well, because you can rupture your eardrum, and besides, ear wax plays an important role in protecting your ears. Why do they have two ends then, for two ears right.

There are various types of cotton swabs, one with wooden rods, and those with short plastic rods. Medical ones typically have the cotton swabs attached to a wooden dowel, and these do come packaged sterile, and they are considerably longer than swabs that are normally found in home medicine cabinets. Then you have cotton swabs designed to be used in model making and those specifically for cosmetic applications.

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