Fallout shelters were fairly common in the 50’s and 60’s, or the concept was anyway. It’s hard to tell just exactly how many families had one in their backyard. If they claimed to have had one, then were they simply a root cellar or something more sophisticated?
Today, however, fallout shelters have given way to the so-called doomsday bunker. The bunkers are designed to survive essentially any type of catastrophe, and if designed properly you could survive a nuclear blast, well, survive depending on certain variables. The variables being how close to the blast zone, who built the bunker for you, filtration systems, power source, water, and waste management procedures all go into the mix. If done correctly a bunker of this type would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Larger cities at one time had designated buildings labeled with the Black and Yellow fallout shelter signs, so if Russia had dropped a nuclear bomb on your city, you had a shelter to take refuge in.
Again, what type of building was it? Most were just brick and concrete buildings stocked with supplies such as food, canned water, gas masks, and portable toilets and other necessities they thought were needed at the time.
The building likely would not have withstood the heat and wind pressure, if the buildings were close to the blast area. They were basically designed to protect people from the fallout. Of course, no one had to actually test one of the structures in a real world situation, so we don’t know.
Scientists in the 50’s and 60’s understood that nuclear detonations released among other forms of radiation deadly gamma rays. They concluded, however, that the rays could be obstructed with enough concrete and distance underground. Radioactive fallout can blow over a city in a matter of hours, thus, reducing the risk from certain radioactive particles. Much depended on the size of the blast, however. This meant that the country or the affected city wouldn’t be contaminated forever.
A nuclear detonation creates shock waves and extremely high winds that would destroy any structure or barrier in its path. Then, of course, there is the radiation like alpha particles, which cannot penetrate your skin, but gamma rays can, and they are deadly, but with enough layers of concrete and other material between you and the gamma rays you can survive.
Why Fallout Shelters
Some believe that the government pushed the concept of surviving a nuclear blast to convince the other side, supposedly Russia at the time that America and its citizens would survive, and of course, retaliate with overwhelming firepower. In some people’s minds this forced Russia to spend, spend and spend more money on weapons, and at some point could not afford to attack the United States.
There was another concept or theory, if you will, put forth by Irwin Redlener, Clinical Professor of Health Policy and Management and Pediatrics at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The professor called the government’s insistence that Americans could survive a blast a great defeat. Thinking that school children could survive a blast by putting their heads under their desks or crouching next to the walls in the school’s hallway was absurd ( Columbia University, n.d.).
Bunkers at the time were romanticized, when in fact, they were dark, damp and almost draconian. However, for the short term, they may have allowed a family to survive the fallout.
Do You Need One Today
If your bunker is essentially a complex buried deep underground and has a dedicated power and water source, which could not be tampered with or destroyed by natural disasters occurring topside.
A bunker buried in the ground may not protect you from a wildfire. The filtration system may become overwhelmed by smoke, and any power sources topside may be destroyed by the fire. Bunkers will not protect you from flooding or earthquakes either.
A bunker on your property will, however, protect you from tornadoes, and marauders, if there is not a siege situation where they starve you out or disable any power or water sources that are accessible from the top.
We are, of course, talking about bunker systems you would install yourself. Professionally installed ones, which again would cost thousands of dollars, would protect you better, but no one as of yet has had to ride out a nuclear blast in one. During a crisis is not the time to realize there is a design flaw in the system.
Shipping containers buried in the backyard are essentially only good for storage and only after you have solved the moisture problem and have solved the structural problems as well. If you start to shovel ten feet of soil over the top without reinforcing the container, it will collapse from the weight. To even begin to protect you from a nuclear blast, you would need at a minimum 10 feet of soil between you and ground level. Then there is the problem of ventilation, air filtration, water, cooking and waste handling to name a few.