Shelters can be designed to meet your unique wants and needs. We can guide you in these choices.
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When evaluating your shelter design needs, you should carefully consider some of the following issues.
- Entrances can be customized to enable the handicapped, injured or elderly to access the shelter. Entrances can also be customized to access homes or outbuildings.
- Your proximity to targets and extremes in weather should dictate the depth of cover.
- A cover of 8 to 10 feet will give excellent blast protection, as well as assure that your shelter will remain at a constant temperature. Most shelters at that depth remain between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The size of your shelter should be based on the number of occupants and the length of stay.
- You will need a minimum of 11 square feet of floor space, or 88 cubic feet of air space per person.
- Each person will require about 11 more square feet for food and supplies.
- For maximum occupancy plan one bunk or hammock for each 3 people. Each person will then use the bunks for an 8-hour period. Do not forget to include social space. When you are not sleeping you will want a comfortable place to sit for eating and socializing.
- You may need long duration living space. We can customize your shelter to include flush toilets and showers if you have an unlimited source of water. Septic tanks are very vulnerable to blast, so you may wish to use only chemical toilets if in a blast zone area.
The following questions may help you prioritize the design needs of your shelter.
- How many people do you anticipate will be housed in your shelter?
- Do you anticipate housing any handicapped or elderly?
- What types of handicaps must be considered?
- Will you be sheltering small children?
- How cold/hot are the extremes of your weather?
- How long do you think you will need to stay in your shelter?
- How much room will you need for food, water & supplies?
- Will you want us to build extra bunks or other furniture?
- Do you have an outside source of water?
*A careful assessment of your needs will help you in choosing the appropriate shelter design. If you would like us to evaluate this questionnaire, please email it to us.
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'Primary' and 'Secondary' NBC targets as well as potential for natural disasters should drive your shelter design requirements for depth of cover, installation and furniture decisions. The following threat assessment questionnaire may help you in your customization decisions.
- List the number of Primary Targets (major airports, military bases and other) within a 10-mile radius.
- How close are you to a large city of population over 200,000?
- List the number of secondary targets (dams, power plants, refineries and other) within a 10-mile radius.
- List the number of major highway interchanges within a 10-mile radius.
- Is your area prone to earthquake?
- Is your area prone to tornados?
- Is your area prone to hurricanes?
- Is your area prone to flood?
- Is your area prone to wild fires?
- How densely forested is your area?
- What are the extremes of your local temperatures?
- Would you consider your locality to have high, low or medium humidity?
Strategists estimate that the largest nuclear weapon used against the United States would be one megaton in size. We refer to this calculation throughout the site. The possible nuclear weapons effects discussed are electromagnetic pulse (EMP), radiation, blast, and thermal effects.
In light of the effects of the recent Ebola outbreak as well as general concern over chemical and biological weapons, these are included as well.
In the detonation of a one megaton size weapon (which is roughly equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT), the fireball grows to 440 feet in just a fraction of a second. In 10 seconds, the fireball is over a mile wide. At the same time the fireball is forming and growing, a high-pressure wave develops and moves outward in all directions. This wave of air causes a huge increase in air pressure. At one-quarter mile from the crater edge, the overpressures are about 200 psi. It is not expected that nuclear weapons with a greater yield than one megaton would be used against the civilian population. We are, therefore, limiting our discussion of blast effects to that yield.
At approximately 4 miles from the epicenter, the winds are 165 mph and the overpressure is approximately 5 psi. Most homes would be destroyed, and very little blast effect protection would be found in a basement shelter at that distance. At 6 and 7 miles from the epicenter, there would be moderate damage to residences and the likelihood of surviving in a basement is increased.
People housed in hardened blast shelters and radiation shelters, such as are built by Utah Shelter Systems, would be expected to survive all NBC weapons effects at ground zero from an air burst (50 psi), and at one quarter mile from the crater edge from a one megaton yield ground burst. At that proximity, an 8 ft. diameter shelter must have at least 8 feet of dirt cover. A 10-foot diameter shelter must have at least 10 feet of dirt cover overhead. Each person must have approximately 10 square feet of shelter space for short-term survival (up to 2 weeks). Double this space requirement if the shelter must be used for longer periods.
The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is created by explosions from both nuclear and conventional weapons. The size and strength of the electromagnetic pulse is dependent on weapon design and height of burst. Collectors, such as long runs of cable, house wiring, conduit, large antennas, overhead power and telephone lines, railroad tracks, etc., gather the energy from the EMP pulse in the form of a strong current and voltage surge. All solid-state electronics are vulnerable to this energy surge. The equipment does not have to be attached directly to the collector in order to be damaged. It's possible for a collector to gather as much as a joule of energy from a one megaton, high altitude explosion. The fact that a small fraction of a joule can cause permanent damage to electronic devices would indicate that an EMP could destroy much of the nation’s unprotected electrical equipment, including computers, some automobile ignition systems, emergency response systems, telephone and radio communications, airline communications, navigational aids, and water purification systems. It is estimated that about 95% of our radio stations would immediately lose transmission from an electro magnetic pulse. The EMP from one nuclear weapon, detonated at that elevation, could affect an area of a thousand miles in diameter, and it would take decades to make the needed repairs.
Electrical Equipment Protection
EMP protection of electrical equipment is achieved by placing the equipment into faraday cages (metal containers). All critical electronics should be protected in these cages. The lids of the containers should have good metal to metal contact. All paint and gaskets should be removed from the lid closure area. EMP protection for continually-functioning equipment is expensive and difficult but achievable; it requires wave guides, EMP filters, and metal cladding of cables and wires.
Many strategists believe that a full-scale war would be initiated by an EMP detonated from a satellite at an elevation of about 200 miles. A nuclear bomb detonated at that altitude will not damage living tissue, will not cause significant radiation fallout and is not a health threat to the population; therefore, EMP effect protection is not needed for people. The enemy’s purpose for initiating an EMP would be to damage critical electrical circuitry in our retaliatory defense weapons and our military communications capabilities. Immediately after the initial EMP explosion, SLBM's and ICBM's would be launched against targets in the United States. An ICBM from Russia would reach the center of the continental United States in about 25 minutes. A missile from a submarine could reach us in 8 minutes. A power drop alarm would give notice of a possible EMP attack. The 25 minutes that the power drop alarm will give could mean the difference between life and death.
Whenever a power drop is detected, care should be taken to test telephones, radio stations, and other equipment for loss of function. Many radio stations have alternate power sources, but only about 5% of our radio stations have been hardened against the EMP. If, after checking a battery-powered radio, you find that most of the radio stations are not functioning, go to your underground shelter and remain there for 8 to 10 hours.
Make your own alarm
If the attack occurs during the night, a simple power-drop alarm would alert you to the power failure. Alarms can be constructed from a motorcycle horn, a 12-volt battery, a relay switch, and a flasher. The negative line from the battery was connected to the 12 V DC horn. When the 110 V AC currant fails, the relay closes the circuit, which activates the horn. Add a switch to the positive line from the battery to the horn so the horn can be turned off after activation. This alarm could pose an electrical shock hazard and should only be constructed by a certified electrician.
EMP weapons can be launched from satellites, by intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) or could even be deployed from surface to air missiles launched from a ship. If Iran's, Shahab-3 ballistic missile, were armed with a nuclear weapon and launched from a ship in our costal waters, the missile could reach altitudes capable of destroying the electrical grid in about 1/3 of the nation. The cascading effect of an already stressed grid could severely damage much of the rest of the nation’s grid. North Korea, an ally of Iran, boasts that they already have nuclear weapons with ballistic missiles capable of causing a destructive electromagnetic pulse.
If the fireball of the weapon touches the ground, the blast is defined as a `ground burst'. In a ground burst, rock, soil, and other material in the area is vaporized and pulled up into the fireball. This debris is uniformly fused with fission products and radioactive residues and becomes radioactive itself. It then falls to the ground as `radioactive fallout'. If the fireball from the explosion does not reach the ground, the blast is said to be an `air burst'. Radiation (except for initial radiation) does not become a factor in an airburst.
Radiation protection is achieved by incorporating the principals of shielding and geometry.
Gamma radiation is a great health problem for a two-week period. Everyone should stay sheltered in a good fallout shelter for two full weeks. If blast is not a consideration, 4 feet of earth cover shielding over the radiation shelter is sufficient to shield from gamma radiation.
Gamma Ray defense is further achieved by building entrances that have the proper length to diameter ratio and incorporating a 90-degree turn at approximately the middle of the shelter. Approximately 90% of the gamma radiation is directed into the ground from the vertical portion of the entrance. As an example, entrances that do not exceed 48 inches in diameter should have the total length of the vertical and horizontal run no less than 20 feet in length with a 90 degree turn at the 10 foot mark. Larger diameter entrances require longer lengths. The other 10% is almost entirely attenuated by the horizontal portion of the entrance.
The threat of exposure to initial nuclear radiation is confined to a radius of about one and one half miles from ground zero and would prove fatal to any unsheltered individuals. However, in hardened underground shelters, such as those that are being built by Utah Shelter Systems, people could survive all nuclear weapons effects, including initial radiation, within ½ mile of a ground burst, and at ground zero of an air burst. Shelters that may be within the initial radiation zone, must have at least 8 ft. of dirt cover and the entrances must be configured with the proper shielding and geometry.
Alpha and Beta radiation will not penetrate through the outside layers of the skin and do not pose a health hazard unless they accumulate internally. If food has been exposed to fallout, great care should be taken to wash the lids before opening canned food, and to wash and peel all exposed fruits and vegetables. Water purification, food preparation, and post war survival will be discussed in another section of this web site. Call us if you have design questions, or need consultation on other aspects of your shelter plans.
The thermal effect can result in both blindness and physical burns.
At 6 to 8 miles from the blast, the thermal pulse will cause third degree burns to anyone that is unshielded, and it would cause second degree burns at a distance of 8 to 10 miles. Even at 10 to 12 miles, where blast is no longer an issue, unprotected individuals would receive 1st degree burns.Thermal protection is extremely important, as burns would greatly complicate an otherwise survivable situation.
Within less than a millionth of a second of the detonation, large amounts of energy in the form of invisible x-rays are absorbed within just a few feet of the atmosphere. This leads to the formation of an extremely hot and luminous mass called the fireball. If we were standing 50 miles away, this fireball would appear to us to be many more times as brilliant as the noonday sun.
Never look directly at the fireball of a nuclear explosion. Because of the focusing action of the lens of the eye, especially at night when our pupils are open, thermal radiation can cause temporary and even permanent blindness. The thermal pulse travels at the speed of light and can last for a fraction of a second, up to several seconds. It also generally travels in straight lines.
Thermal protection is achieved by the ‘drop and cover’ method. If you do have warning, you should take cover behind a large structure, or go to a basement or culvert.
Talking to Your Friends & Family
Seldom do all members of a family have the same levels of concern, and it is sometimes frustrating to justify these protective measures to those we care about the most.
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We have been asked, numerous times, to expound on the following statements that have been genuinely made by others:
I would not want to be the only one to survive.
I may not be at home when I need the shelter.
There are no more “real” threats to our country.
The government will take care of us.
The following is our response to these concerns:
Our Answer: According to the worst-case scenario forecasts prepared by the Department of Defense in 2002, the short-term casualties that would be derived from a full onslaught nuclear attack (Russia and / or China) would approximate 30% - 35% of our population with and additional 30% - 35% of our population dying over the following 6-8 weeks from starvation, dehydration, disease, inclement weather, contamination, attack, etc. In this forecasted worst case, 30% of our citizens would survive to start over and rebuild our country. At 290,000,000 people and growing, this means that almost 100,000,000 Americans would survive. Yes, we would be starting over and it would be hard at times. We would be living in a 3rd world country for a period of time. But, unlike our pioneer ancestors, we still have the knowledge and information from before, to build upon.
Our answer: Government war strategists are in agreement that a full-scale nuclear attack would most probably occur during the night or early morning or during a national holiday. ‘Night time’ in America is ‘Day time’ in the countries of our most likely enemies. Our enemies would want to strike while we were asleep.
Most people do not work or live in the vicinity of prime targets, providing time for them to return to their shelters in the event of a full-scale nuclear or terrorist attack.
People who have prepared shelters are aware of their surroundings and in tune to escalating crises and the warning signs They have also pre-planned expedient sheltering capabilities and evacuation routes.
Our answer: We have been preparing and building shelters for over 21 years, but we are continually amazed at the number of people who don’t recognize or believe that any “real” threats exist. Upon further questioning we most often find that the vast majority of these people do not read a daily newspaper nor watch a daily news broadcast. They are consumed with sporting events and spend their money on useless toys.
Many people refuse to consider the possibility of an attack, because they believe nuclear war is not survivable. If there is nothing one can do, one tends to do nothing. They receive all their information from the media, which consistently tells them this is true. If we can educate these people to the real and fundamental effects of nuclear weapons, they may see that nuclear war is, in fact, very survivable and prepare accordingly. Find more information in About NBC Effects.
Our Answer: There is a wide spread misconception that public shelters exist throughout the country. Some countries, such as Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, North Korea, China and Russia have provided shelters for a good portion of their population. It has been estimated by American strategists that about 30% of the population of the world have radiation and blast shelters. Russia has constructed multiple underground industrial communities. Switzerland, has provided 100% of their population with hardened NBC shelters.
Our own government has provided hardened underground facilities for high ranking government officials and their families as well as for our critical mission personnel.
My family members are my ‘critical mission personnel’. Where are the shelters for my family? The answer to this question is that we, as citizens, have not been willing to demand this level of protection for ourselves, nor have we been willing to be taxed to this level of protection. Legislation providing shelters will not occur until we demand it. Current localized disasters have proven that our government is there to assist us, but not to save us in widespread emergencies. More and more Americans are awakening to the reality that the world has become a dangerous place, and as a result, they are purchasing shelters for themselves and their loved ones.
Find more information on the Swiss Civil Defense Story.
The government’s answer to providing for the common defense of the country is in the policy of deterrence. Deterrence is not defense. The concept of deterrence by ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ is a misnomer. This form of deterrence exists only if neither side can defend themselves against weapons of mass destruction and both sides have equal numbers of offensive type weapons. Russia has both passive defense in the form of shelters, and active defense in the form of anti-ballistic missiles. America has neither. Further frustrating this policy is the fact that Russia continues to modernize every aspect of their strategic nuclear arsenal while we are dismantling our own. Our government has identified 28 terrorist organizations that have no country of claim. Deterrence against these terrorist organizations does not exist because there is no country to target or threaten with a retaliatory strike. Our government has identified seven terrorist nations. Deterrence against 3rd world terrorist nations does not exist either, because the government leaders of those nations do not value the lives of their own citizens.
Mutual assured destruction (MAD) was never formally accepted as government policy, but for the past 40 years, the concept has driven most all of our national defense decisions. Most everyone now agrees, however, that deterrence is no longer a viable concept. The greatest defense against modern day threats, in our opinion, is a strong national NBC shelter program and a nationwide anti-ballistic missile shield.
Each person should have room for their personal items. Storage space has been provided under each bunk. Each person should have their own supply of underwear, socks, extra clothing, shoes, personal medications and hygiene items.
Store reading materials, games, educational materials, writing materials, toys and other items to keep the occupants occupied. Store a favorite toy for the children. Store a musical instrument such as a guitar or violin and encourage singing. Tell and read stories to the children.
Talk about the future and reconstruction plans. Tell the occupants what they should expect to see after the event. If you have perceived a blast, prepare them for the possibility that their home and neighborhood will have been damaged.
After two full days, turn on and listen to your radio for short periods of time. It is psychology imperative that you have outside contact. Plan to use your CB or ham radio sparingly, as transmitting on these radios requires a great deal more power than when they are in the ‘receiving’ mode. If others that you know have shelters, plan to use the same frequencies. News radio broadcasts can be obtained on an inexpensive emergency radio that has its own power source. For example, the Best Emergency Radio available at Vitality Medical comes with a hand crank generator, a built-in solar panel, an integrated LED flashlight and a USB port for charging your smartphone.
Encourage everyone to exercise. You may wish to include an exercise machine in your shelter. Everyone should have a turn turning the crank on the ventilator.
Spend your battery watt-hours carefully. There should be one light on at all times for the sanity and safety of the occupants. Carefully monitor your battery system to insure enough power to get through the first 3 weeks of the disaster. The tiny mini-volt lamps included in your shelter provide enough light to read by.
Dress warmly. Cold people will not be happy or stay healthy. If properly installed, the shelter should stay at a constant temperature between 45 and 65 degrees F.
Rotate sleeping into three shifts. Provide comfortable mats and warm bedding. Store earplugs for light sleepers. Two people (at least one adult) should be awake at all times. People need to be assigned to ventilate the shelter, monitor the radio, take radiation levels and constantly guard the shelter.
Provide a separate area for the toilet and personal hygiene. You may wish to place curtains on the bunks, but be sure to leave adequate ventilation room.
Store foods that need little preparation. Store some ‘comfort’ foods and items that are familiar to the diet of the children. Make sure everyone is drinking enough water.
Rotate sleeping schedules so that at least one adult is always alert and on duty.
Preparation: Disaster Plan
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‘Pre-disaster’ plans are required for ‘Post-disaster’ survival. A great deal of time and money is put into preparations for natural and man-made disaster. These preparations will be lost if the plan is not worked and the shelter not maintained.
Batteries must be kept charged; water and food rotated, and all must be kept in a state of readiness. Occupants should be taught proper radiological monitoring techniques. Sheltering and preparedness must become a ‘way of life’. Make security preparations, and prepare for ‘post war’ survival. Store items that could be used for farming and the re-construction process.
Spend time in the shelter sleeping, eating and practicing your plan. Practice what the family would do in the event of an escalating crises, or eminent attack. Turn off your power and let the family hear the power drop alarm, and then go the shelter. This should be an exercise similar to a ‘fire drill’.
Duty List in the event of an Imminent Attack
If the EMP alarm has been activated, switch off the alarm.
Assessing Your Risk: Probability and Consequence
Most people consider the risk of a nuclear attack to be very small. No such attack has ever occurred in our country, therefore, they consider the probability of such an event to be near zero. Keep in mind, however, that a true risk assessment must consider both probability and consequence.
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Most of our national security strategists agree that the possibility of a nuclear attack from terrorist countries and organizations grows daily. The technology is well known and the nuclear fuel for such weapons is available on the “black market” China and North Korea have made veiled nuclear threats against our borders, terrorist organizations claim to have “suitcase bombs” and Russia and China continue to modernize every aspect of their strategic nuclear arsenal.
Edward Teller, the father of the Hydrogen Bomb, recently said, “Every day we go without a nuclear terrorist attack is a gift.” The probability of a nuclear event is greater than most people think.
The consequences of a nuclear attack, in loss of human life and collateral damage, would be huge. The relatively few lives lost in the U.S. from hurricanes, flood, or the recent 9/11 terrorist attacks would pail to the tens of millions of lives lost from a potential nuclear attack.
When multiplying both the growing probability factor, with the huge consequence factor, we see a resulting risk that is very large. We believe this assessment easily justifies the expense and effort of installing hardened NBC shelters.
There are certain classes of facilities that attract nuclear warheads in the first round of an attack. Any facility connected with America’s nuclear forces will be brought under attack in the first salvo including ICBM fields and launch control facilities and command and control centers such as NORAD in Colorado Springs and the Air Force command center in Omaha. Air Force bases hosting long-range bombers, refueling/tanker aircraft, and continental air defense fighter aircraft are obvious first-tier targets.
Any airport with a runway capable of landing a commercial jet would be a recipient of at least one nuclear warhead, most likely fused to burst at or near the ground so as to crater the runway, or at least heave gobs of contaminated material onto and around the runway. Strategists plan this to deny recovery of any surviving bomber or tankers. Any city of more than 200,000 will most likely have runways of this length nearby.
The resulting fallout will kill many thousands of citizens and military personnel. Blast and fire will be a factor for a radius of 6 to 12 miles depending on weapon yield, weather, height of burst, etc. Be aware that weapons and delivery systems malfunction and can miss the intended target (but inevitably hit someone else). Also remember that a “rain-out” can occur increasing the gamma dose-rate by a factor of ten or more, (possibly 10,000 rads per hour) effectively killing everyone in the local area not shielded with an earth cover more than 5 feet thick.
A correctly designed and installed shelter will effectively protect the health of its occupants in this environment, and will do so within 1/2 mile of the center of the detonation. In addition, the sheltered will be relatively comfortable, not just alive.
Swiss Civil Defense Story
Switzerland, a tiny landlocked country in central Europe, has had a long standing policy of armed neutrality. Completely surrounded by warring world powers during both world wars, the Swiss have been able to avoid war and retain their freedom by virtue of being too expensive to conquer. The rugged terrain of their country is also a factor. In addition to a rather large citizen army (700,000 in 1999), they have deployed the world’s most effective civil defense program and consider it an integral part of their nation’s defense.
Since the 1970’s, Switzerland’s building codes have required the incorporation of hardened shelters into the construction of new apartment buildings, homes, businesses, churches, hospitals, and factories. Shelters must be built to rigid government specifications and utilize only components approved by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Defense (BZS). This demand for approved shelter equipment created a national industry in Switzerland which continues to this day. If threatened, the Swiss can shelter its entire population of seven and one half million citizens in blast hardened shelters on short notice.
The population of Switzerland is well trained in subjects ranging from weapons effects, first aid, shelter management, and rescue techniques. Shelter drills are conducted along with large scale exercises to familiarize the citizenry with shelter life. It only follows that many millions of man-hours of experience have been gained from these exercises, and modifications to shelters and related equipment designs have evolved into today’s proven shelter component lineup. In addition, the Swiss government testing agencies have conducted numerous (and on-going) destructive testing of shelter designs and components. This is done by building prototype shelters and then challenging them with live high explosive ordnance. Because of this fierce determination to remain neutral and free, the Swiss are driven to produce only the finest shelter equipment to be found.
Whether you are building a steel shelter, a re-enforced concrete shelter, or a safe-room, we can help you select and integrate the proper Andair AG components to do the job right.