How to Build a Fallout Shelter

One Methods:Pole-Covered Trench Shelter

"Man must put an end to war or war will put an end to man." This chilling quote may not be as exaggerated as some believe, since nowadays there are tens of thousands of nuclear weapons ready to launch in minutes. Maybe war will put an end to the race of humans. "Iran is making nuclear weapons, experts predict they will be functional in a year or two..." "The Russian bear roars again..." "North Korea has acquired nukes..." The world is like a time bomb, only needing one tiny spark to detonate, literally. However, if you have a proper shelter when the world is sent a thousand years back, you may, and probably will survive. Please note that this shelter is not just for protection from nuclear weapons, it can also be used as protection against, for example, an asteroid hitting earth.


  1. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 1
    Think about what kind of a shelter you want to build. Do you want to have the highest RPF (Radiation Protection Factor, meaning how much radiation is reduced. For example, RPF 100 means that a person would receive 100 times less radiation than a person completely unprotected), or are you going to strive for a high blast protection? Think about where you live and consider which you need the most. Keep in mind that this decision will either kill you or keep you alive.
  2. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 2
    Print out the instructions for the shelter you want to make and cross out each step when completed. If this shelter does not satisfy your needs, there are instructions for many more out there.

Pole-Covered Trench Shelter

Basically the idea on this one is to dig a trench, then place poles/logs on top of it and finish the combination with some soil/earth on the top. This will provide you with a decent shelter which is theoretically very simple although it will take several days of labor intensive digging. Below are the instructions for building one.

  1. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 3
    Gather the tools which include shovels and saws.
  2. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 4
    Assign different tasks to different individuals according to their strengths and weaknesses. A good idea may be to have half of the group dig while the other half gathers the poles/logs.
  3. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 5
    Choose an area that has no flammable material around it. When a nuclear weapon detonates, it creates a thermal pulse which can set things 20 miles (32 km) away on fire. If you don't have a choice, at least buy a fire extinguisher and clear the area around your shelter to the best of your abilities.
  4. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 6
    When digging, pile up the soil at least five feet away from the trench.
  5. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 7
    Dig the trench as deep as you want to, but remember that the lower it is, the more room you have and it may improve blast protection.
  6. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 8
    When finished digging, place the logs/poles on top of the trench. Make sure to cut the logs AT LEAST 1 foot (0.3 m) wider than the trench!
  7. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 9
    Now that you have the logs on top of the trench, MAKE SURE TO cover any cracks with for example cloth or leaves.
  8. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 10
    When you are absolutely positive that there is no way for the dirt to get into the living space, place the soil you dug out on the logs, so that the layer of earth is at least 18 inches high. If you want to increase RPF, make a higher layer.
  9. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 11
    Build a toilet of some sort on a space separated from the rest of the shelter with at least a blanket or a cloth of some kind.
  10. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 12
    Make beds of some kind. If you are running out of time, a couple of inches high layer of leaves/pine needles etc will be fairly enough. If your skills permit, make a bunk bed. The easiest solution would be to bring some extra blankets and make a "bed" out of two blankets on top of another.
  11. Image titled Build a Fallout Shelter Step 13
    Since no one likes to be trapped inside a fallout shelter if a fire happens, make sure you have at least two different exits in your fallout shelter.


  • Unless you are aware of soil conditions in your area it is wise to consider that before you consider the type of shelter you plan to build some soil conditions are as thick as a gumbo in the wet season and as thin as fluff in the dry season. The hole must be dug at an angle outward to keep it from falling in on you. Other areas have soil that is as hard as dry clay while other areas have calice which is a calcium carbonate which is something comparable to a good strong clay soil. This will allow you to dig a hole straight down with a smaller chance of a cave-in.this can save on framing materials as you can use the dirt as a back stop for the cement. Areas where the soil is softer and more dangerous to work call for an above ground shelter if you do not have the room to angle dig your hole. Another problem in small places when working with very soft soil is if you dig too near the neighbors property his house can settle and crack and you may be liable. A below ground masonry or concrete reinforced shelter is a big project and calculating the cost of materials and finding reliable plans is important. The government spent millions designing plans during the cold war and tested them at bomb sites so those are first choice. Unfortunately many of them are out of print but they can be had as E-Books at www.first patriot You do not have to go into a world of debt to build a shelter as many of us see something we want and can not afford to do it but we have to think like a scrounger and we can afford almost anything we are healthy enough to build. Using the list of materials and an old pickup truck buy a few bars of cement reinforcing steal this paycheck and stack them by the house and in a short time you will have the amount needed. It is always wise to buy minus 10% of a building list so you do not have a leftover pile of stuff at the end if you are building it your self. If you are hiring a contractor to do some of the work buy 100% of what ever his part of the job is as if he has to run after it and his men are siting around then you will be paying for three men or more depending on the size of the crew involved. If the contractor needs something then I have taken off work the day they are working for me and I am at his service and will jump in my pickup and run for it. Labor is the most expensive commodity at a job site so if you are short a few 2X4,s or plywood always go to the closest place to buy the needed materials. Three or four men setting on there back sides while run across town to save a dollar is foolishness. You can build this thing your self but it is a hefty project for a healthy man. Buy plastic re bar protectors in case you trip and fall as a piece of re bar sticking up will kill you if you fall on one. Bending re bar is done by sliding a piece of 2 inch rigid pipe over the re bar and putting your foot on the re bar next to the pipe then lift the pipe and you will have a pretty right angle. Cutting re bar is easiest with a chop saw but a hacksaw will do. Make a hacksaw cut about 1/2 way through and put you foot on the side of the cut and lift and the re bar and it will break. This will save you from cutting the re bar all the way through.
  • Remember to stock up on food, water, and preferably Omega-3, Calcium & Multivitamin tablets.Be sure there are absolutely no windows Or slide in a piece of plywood and back fill , and make sure that majority of your shelter is underground. Existing basements or cellars will need additional shielding . Here are the minimums as declared by the US Department of Defense.10 cm (4in) of Concrete, 12-15 cm (5-6in) of Brick, 15 cm (6in) of sand (bags or boxes, it doesn't matter)A dresser can be filled with earth as a side support,17 cm (7in) of earth,20cm (8in) of hollow cinder blocks filled with earth or sand if nothing else is available (12 cm - 6in if filled with sand),25 cm (10in) of water,35 cm (14in) of books/magazines or 45 cm (18in) of wood,Make sure to have lots of food and water. canned food or any sort of food that will not spoil is recommended. MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) are suggested.
  • First-Aid kit. Be sure to have an extensive one, not just the "taking the kids to the park" set of Band-Aids. This is one recommended by the US Department of Defense:
    • Sterile gauze dressings 10x17 cm (4x7in)
    • Compress and bandage 5x5 cm (2x2in) 4 strips
    • Gauze compress-type bandages 7 cm x6 m (3in x 6yrds)
    • 3 six yard rolls of 2 cm (1in) and 5 cm (2in) gauze bandage
    • Muslin-type compressed bandages 93x93x132 cm (37x37x52in)
    • Gauze, petrolatum 7x66 cm (3x26in) 3 strips
    • Adhesive tape 2 cm x 1 m (1in x 1yd) 100 strips
    • Band-aid 1x7 cm (3/4 x 3in) 100 strips
    • Eye wash
    • Ammonia inhalation solution, aromatic Ampoules (1/3cc,10 units)
    • povidone-iodine solution, non-ferrous, 10% 1.4cl (1/2 fluid oz.)
    • Sodium chloride (salt)-sodium bicarbonate mixture
    • Surgical razor/scalpel
    • Instruction sheet and contents.
    • The following are HIGHLY recommended items to be put in your kit, although you may need a doctor's clearance for a couple of these. (many of these can be used to treat the symptoms of radiation sickness):
      • Tweezers
      • Compazine suppositories (for nausea and vomiting)
      • Tincture of opium (for diarrhea)
      • Antacid tablets (for indigestion)
      • Bottle of aspirin (minor pain)
      • A narcotic (major pain)
  • Other non-first aid things you should have:
    • Sleeping bags
    • Lots of clothing (both warm and covering (when you're outside), as well as cool (for when you're inside)
    • Sunscreen and lotion
    • Toiletries
    • Sunglasses
    • Flashlights and batteries
    • Radio and "walkie-talkies" (not cell phones, the EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) from the blast will render it useless for a while, then the satellites will go down for national security so you will get no signal)
    • "Self powered" flashlights and "Self powered" radios, sealed in aluminum foil, other metal, so that the EMP does not render them inoperable. Usable batteries will be very difficult to find after a nuclear attack, understandably, so ensure that they are self-powered.
    • Flares
    • Candles. Use only IF there are NO gas leaks; explosive gas.
    • Glow sticks
    • Waterproof strike-anywhere matches
    • Smoke signals
    • Compass
    • Halazone tablets for water purification (this will not filter out radiation, just pathogens!)
    • Needle and thread
    • Canvas
    • Self defense weapon, preferably a gun.
    • Axe/hatchet, hand saw, crowbar, skinning knife, combat knife, and eating utensils. (Be sure to take a whetstone or file to sharpen.)
    • Pencil, paper and anything that will help pass the time
    • A copy of this article


  • This article may not be 100% accurate for your situation. It is impossible to predict exactly what will be needed for fallout survival.
  • Practice Trench Safety. From 1990-2000, 722 people died from trench accidents. See link in Sources and Citations.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovels
  • Something that will protect the shelter from rain or snow
  • Something that helps defeat boredom. Maybe a thick book or two and a deck of cards.
  • At least 40 gallons (151.4 L) of water per person stored in secure containers
  • A toilet (not a flush-able toilet, just some kind of a seat with a deep hole dug under.)
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Anything else that will help you survive

Article Info

Categories: Disaster Preparedness