Disaster Shelters come in many shapes and sizes but almost all are exclusively underground and designed to protect the occupants through specific disasters.
They range from a simple underground shed in someone’s back garden to a complex underground facility designed to house and keep safe hundreds of people deep underground.
Of course the more complex and sturdy a shelter is the more protection it will afford its inhabitants so it becomes down to, for many people, how much they can afford to spend on building a shelter adequate for the purpose of survival in any disaster.
One of the disadvantages of shelters is that one has to be close to them to take advantage in the event of a disaster depending on the forewarning of the disaster. If you have a couple of hours warning then you could likely be far away and have no time to return. If it is a 5 or 4 minute warning you need to be less than 4 minutes away from the entrance.
Here are some important points when considering a disaster shelter.
1. Stability. Some companies sell sheds that can be used above ground. These are next to useless in an earthquake, nuclear attack and similar disasters. I have even seen tents being sold as disaster shelters. Shelter from the rain perhaps but certainly not even from a violent storm. A shelter needs to be underground and the further underground it can be built the better. The only doubt is in earthquake country where the ground can warp and so the shelter can be distorted if the earthquake is violent enough and damage to the occupants and contents may occur. In that case being out in the open is probably the best option. Earthquakes are relatively short albeit violent sometimes, and the main issue is destruction that occurs and follows as a result. Strength and durability is important and using the right material to ensure the shelter remains intact during a disaster is important. Japanese building gs, for example, and built with earthquakes in mind so can tolerate a lot of shaking that would destroy other buildings.
2. Sufficient supplies. This includes of course, food, emergency equipment, water and oxygen. Waste disposal facilities and valves to allow used air to escape so the pressure does not build up. It is generally considered that supplies for three months are adequate for most disasters. Also, if one is underground, provision needs to be made for such things as lighting, heating and refrigeration. So electricity is a must for those. Batteries with possibly Solar cells above feeding electricity down to the batteries is feasible. A generator is another option but of course is limited by the amount of fuel that would be available.
3. Communal shelters are often touted as being more economical with the costs shared between the members. All members would need to be within reach so a communal shelter for a street could be a feasible option. The government and large organisations often have large communal disaster shelters for their VIPs and some staff close by, often directly underneath their office and of course military organisations have a number of underground facilities that can be adapted as disaster shelters if needed.
Shelters are commonly available through the internet, even IKEA produces a build your own shelter believe it or not, and prices range from a few hundred up to many hundreds of thousands of dollars. It should be noted that usually the price is broken up into sections. The basic unit has its own price, then there are prices for ‘add-ons’ which of course are essential, such as waste disposal, actual supplies, generators etc. The overall cost, then, is the accumulation of these important add-ons to the basic unit cost. Then, if one’s shelter is going to be underground, there is the cost of the excavation of the ground itself as well as its preparation.
To have an adequate disaster shelter is not going to be a few hundred dollars but more in the region of thousands and, for many people, it is a major investment into the survival of their future.