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So, you are thinking about a doomsday bunker. Maybe you have even looked at plans to build an underground bunker. No matter how you look at it this is hardcore prepping. However, one step too many and are you off the deep end into a dark place?
Specifically, in this article, we will focus on the myriad of reasons why you may want to build an underground bunker.
Why Build an Underground Bunker?
Those of us who have given the future careful consideration know that there will be challenging times ahead. We know that there are many legitimate reasons for going through the effort and expense of building a DIY underground bunker. So, let’s take a few minutes to identify the potential events that would necessitate a bunker.
A note of caution, as we walk this path please remember to keep a sense of balance to your prepping. Asking the “Why” question naturally takes us through some of the more difficult realities of life on earth. I ask that as you work through this article and think about the items presented also focus on the positive side of prepping.
We do this to keep those we love safe from harm.
Not all reasons for building an emergency shelter derives from Zombies, Swine Flu, or Rogue Governments. Several come from Mother Nature herself. Her very moody self!
We have all seen the recent uptick in natural disasters, and this is a trend that will most likely not diminish anytime soon. Mother Nature has thrown several events at us that would be made safer and more comfortable farther down the path with an emergency shelter.
The first is tornados. Many families build a storm shelter in Tornado Alley. Many houses have backyard shelters to seek refuge in during a tornado outbreak. It is not uncommon for a home to have a small shelter large enough for the family stocked with food and water for a few days.
In fact, an entire industry exists solely for tornado shelters. There are more than a few vendors that will install a completely self-contained unit in your backyard or even inside your house. Just place a call and in a few short weeks, you can have your very own Wile E. Coyote approved Acme storm shelter.
Fire is a tricky one. With special considerations, it can be accomplished. However, these designs are best left to the experts.
The last 10 years have seen historic droughts and record wildfires. A forest fire with a strong wind can overtake a position with remarkable speed. Fleeing by vehicle or foot may not be an option. In this case, an emergency shelter can be a lifesaving option.
A DIY underground bunker that may have a use as a fire shelter requires very specific design considerations. Wildfires carry a significant amount of heat. An improper design here will create an oven rather than an oasis.
Secondly, many who seek shelter from a firestorm are spared from heat however eventually suffocate. The primary risk of sheltering from fires is that they consume all the oxygen around them. Sequester yourself in a shelter and leave any vents open – make no mistake, you will die.
Considerations must be made for supplemental oxygen for the duration of your anticipated stay.
Just a few feet down the earth is a constant 50-70 degrees. Seeking shelter, even for a few hours can bring a sense of peace or restful sleep. Any storm shelter can provide a good night’s rest and escape from the heat.
4. Floods and Other Water Disasters
Unless you have specifically designed your shelter to handle rising groundwater or excessive surface flooding these natural disasters are best left to aboveground options.
As we all watch the never-ending news cycle there is no shortage of disasters looming around each and every corner.
It doesn’t take a cynical prepper to see that we are on a crash course with hard times. On your journey of how to build an underground bunker not prioritizing manmade disasters would be a fatal mistake.
5. Nuclear War
Why start small? As they say, go big or go home with a fallout or bomb shelter. Back in the good old ’80s, the Ruskies pointed a few thousand ICBMs at the U.S. of A. and we were more than happy to reciprocate.
In the 60’s Khrushchev even tried to plant a few 90 miles off our southern shores. Now not only do we have Putin attempting to raise Mother Russia to the glory days, but Chairman Xi has built up his own arsenal.
Slowly Xi has extended his reach via weapons advancement (they are estimated to have land, sea, and air delivery capabilities) and political expansion (who needs to occupy an island when you can build one in the south china sea, don’t forget their military base on the horn of African in Djibouti).
Then there are the nations sitting at the nuclear-enabled children’s table. India, Pakistan, and Turkey all have a few weapons that they have brandished at one point or another. Let us not forget that North Korea has been allowed to develop quite the arsenal.
Make no mistake about it, these leaders didn’t flinch when it came time for them to build an underground bunker.
Finally, there are those with aspirations like Iran and any number of terrorist organizations. How many nuclear scientists from the former Soviet bloc have put their skills up for sale? How many pounds of nuclear material have gone missing?
We may never know until it is truly too late. Building a fallout shelter with enough dirt above to block radiation and an NBC capable air and water filtration system – what’s not to love?
There are potential nuclear targets all over the United States… do you live near one?
Never assume you are safe, even if you live in the country or in a small town. Heavily populated are not the only strategic targets! Click the map below to determine if you live near ground zero.
6. EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse)
The subject of EMPs has been the start for many preppers on the survival path. Take a nuke and pop it off a few miles above the US and you have the makings of about a hundred post-apocalyptic prepper novels.
For those hiding under a survivalist rock, an electromagnetic pulse occurs when a nuclear explosion happens in the upper atmosphere it causes a cascading event that statically charges the lower atmosphere.
Any metal surface collects the charge and zingo – the equivalent of God scuffing his feet on the rug then zapping us on the back of the neck. Do a quick internet search for Starfish Prime or read “One Second After” and you’ll get the idea.
These events are usually tied to sunspots and solar flares. Occasionally they are huge, pointed at the Earth, and sometimes they are both.
Real Life EMP Power
The Carrington Event of 1859 damaged a significant portion of the little bit of electrical grid we had at the time. A similar-sized CME popped off the sun in July of 2012. As they say, “Missed it by that much”.
Scientists agree, has that CME occurred one week earlier, we would still be picking up the pieces.
Regardless of the source, there is the real potential for widespread damage and disruption to life as we know it. Each and every electrical item acts like a little antenna receiving the induced charge from the event.
The problem is most of our current electronics are designed to handle thousandths of a volt. An EMP can generate a charge well above this.
Likewise, our electrical grid with its power distribution system consists of a massive array of power lines (read: antennas) ready to accept the induced charge. From small to large, electrical components may fry. Left without the convenience of electricity will set us back to the 1800s.
One catch; we don’t have the knowledge required to live in the 1800s!
No electricity, no gas, no moving vehicles, no transportation of goods. Our society is built on just-in-time delivery. Few businesses, especially those dealing in perishable goods (like food) have no more than a day or two of inventory.
Within days humanity will collectively lose its mind. That should be plenty of motivation to build an underground bunker and hide out of sight. Meanwhile, the desperate humanity above reduces its number by 90 percent.
By now, everyone is familiar with what a pandemic is. In case you have been living on a deserted island since 2019, pandemics are defined as an epidemic that spreads across a large geographic region. We have our annual flu scare (get your shots and wash your hands… everything) and have even survived the swine flu.
The Spanish Flu spread across the world and killed between 3% and 5% of the world’s population. And this all without the benefit of global travel.
Take a little time and read the first 100 pages of Stephen King’s “The Stand”. King’s description of Captain Trips spread throughout the world via cough, cars, and planes is truly frightening.
As of this writing, we have had over 200 million cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus with over 4 million deaths.
Pandemics stop for three reasons. 1) They burn out (kill everyone worth killin’), 2) get contained (kill everyone in a quarantine zone), or 3) modern medicine comes to our rescue.
There are untold bugs in nature that are a mere species hop from becoming the next Spanish Flu. Medicine may not be able to react quick enough to stop them.
Which leaves the first two options. With modern transportation, we can circle the globe in a day and come in contact with thousands of people. Each of which is traveling to a different destination. The right bug in the right place and we could see three of our hundred closest friends sick and dying.
Again, another easy argument for building a doomsday bunker. Tucked away from the coughing, sneezing, and eye-bleeding masses would be the only safe space. During a pandemic, isolation is the key to survival.
8. Cyber Attack
Not all risks are born of nature or fall out of the sky. We live in a connected world.
I write this on a computer, connected to a digital cloud, while a mobile information collection device phone streams a movie as background noise. Many homes are automated and can be warmed up and lit up by a few clicks on your phone.
Commercial inventory is tracked and ordered via computers. Our education system doesn’t use books anymore; children are issued their first tablet as early as first grade. The financial system is completely wired to the internet as is the transportation system.
All connected systems are designed to be connected to. And they generally aren’t good at discerning between friend and foe. We know that our electrical grid (which we will talk about in the next section) and many of our control systems are already infiltrated via software or within the very hardware that runs them.
9. Electrical Grid Failure
Several of the threats to our country ultimately impact our electrical grid. Both EMP and CME can fry the inner workings and control systems of the grid as well as the large (hard to replace) transformers. We already know that the control systems of the grid are compromised by malicious software. Most of the hardware components are designed and developed on foreign shores.
Ted Kopple wrote a wonderful treatise on the weakness of the electrical grid in “Lights Out.” Between age, fragility, and malicious intent the grid weighs heavy on the minds of many preppers. Without the grid, our world stops. Without electricity people will thirst, starve, freeze, and die. Most estimates calculate that 90% within the first year will die.
During a grid failure, the formation of a mutual assistance group (MAG) or colony where strength comes with numbers is the best possible solution for survival. If a MAG is not a possibility, then the only other recourse is isolation.
Staying away from the unprepared while they slowly die is the only other way you will survive. The best bet for this is your bunker.
10. Social Breakdown
With any event bordering the extreme, the thin veneer of society wears away. Just look to the last major sporting event to witness our collective lack of civility. The Ferguson Riots in Missouri showed how quickly a single event can turn into weeks of violence.
Civil unrest is an almost daily event in Portland, Oregon. These periods of unrest are brought about by people looking for a fight as well as professional agitators. Regardless of the cause or the escalation factors, we as a society are on edge.
Add in a major event, remove social benefits (SNAP cards), remove easy access to food, and that thin veneer has officially broken down. What will a complete social breakdown look like? No one knows but we can make some guesses.
Right or wrong even the mildest interpretation of a fall from civility will move you down the path of how to build an underground bunker.
Within the first few hours of a major event, few will take immediate action. Most will be unaware of what is truly going on or will be in shock. You can expect a violent minority in urban centers. But for the most part, things should be relatively peaceful.
The second day will bring the realization that things may not be all ok. People will start going to the grocery stores and pharmacies trying to get their bread and milk. When the shelves remain un-stocked at mid-day people will start to get worried and start to panic.
They say that civility is only nine missed meals deep. By day three the panic will be complete. Urban centers will devolve as police and other emergency personnel realize the same and begin to abandon their posts.
By week’s end, unless there has been a complete crackdown by the local Government, the streets will not be habitable by anyone but the strong. Cupboards will be bare and the suffering will begin in earnest.
Suffering due to lack of meals and clean drinking water, missed medications, and lack of medical treatment. As the crisis continues those on life-sustaining medications will begin to die. Those in critical care will die.
Those without food and water will die. Those without protection will suffer at the hands of the strong. At this point, unless you have disappeared or your community has come together and organized its resources, long-term survival is quite honestly doubtful.
If you know how to build an underground bunker, it will give you an option to escape this version of a crumbling society.
BONUS: The Fourth Turning
Even some of the most hard-core preppers will look at the above scenarios and cast doubt. That is fine. Some of the events discussed are pretty rare or unlikely to happen.
So, let’s bring the focus back a little bit closer to home. One thing I would like to leave you with is a quick note about cycle theory. William Strauss and Neil Howe’s 1997 book “The Fourth Turning” details the cycle of human events as they relate to the passing of generations.
Their theory is that roughly every 80 years, history repeats itself. The cycle starts in recovery (from a crisis) and on a High. Think of the boom of the ’50s after WWII.
Society is united and prospering; the second phase is the Awakening as individuals tire of social discipline and expand their self-awareness. This represents the mid-60s.
The next phase of the cycle is the Unraveling as the social, governmental, and commercial institutions are distrusted. Society becomes largely self-centered. This was American in the ’80s.
The final phase of the cycle is Crisis. This is a period of war or revolution. Take an honest evaluation of our immediate past.
About 80 years ago was WWII, 80 years before that the Civil War, before that, the Revolutionary War. According to this theory, we are in a time of Crisis. Look around and take an honest assessment.
Can you see the societal breakdown, war, revolution in our future? Yeah… I’m right there with you.
You Can Build an Underground Bunker
The world is heading for rough times. This is true whether you are thinking of building your own shelter, purchasing a pre-built bunker or space in a shared survival community, or just hoping for the best.
Anyone with open eyes can see that we as a global community are growing farther apart each day. We seem to have a hard time navigating our differences.
Whether you believe this is caused by external sources, governments, or just human nature it really doesn’t matter. It’s happening. So, all the while we hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
This article has focused on the darker parts of life, both natural and manmade. As preppers, we tend to spend a little in the darker corners of life around us. We do this to break the normalcy bias and to mentally prepare for bad times.
Given a proper balance of your resources (time, money, and emotional energy) you can build underground bunkers that will prepare you for whatever the world will throw at us.
Frequently Asked Questions
What would cause me to seek shelter in an underground bunker?
EMP, Nuclear War, and Mass Social Unrest are all events that you would be better off underground than above ground.
Why would these drive me underground?
Merely being healthy will make you a target during the civil unrest that will follow a catastrophic event.
What protection from a CME or EMP does an underground bunker provide?
Protection from the civil unrest that will follow a CME or EMP is the key benefit for an underground bunker. While there is no physical threat from either event the ensuing chaos will be unavoidable for those left out in the open.
What protection from a nuclear event does an underground bunker provide?
3 feet of packed dirt reduces radiation by 1000%. This is enough to negate the effects of most radiological events.
What protection from a natural disaster does an underground bunker provide?
Tornadoes and other severe storms can demolish almost any above-ground structure. An underground bunker is shielded from these events buy being flush with or under the surface of the earth.
Bonus: Root Cellar That Can Be Used as a Bunker
Do you remember the old root cellars our great-grandparents used to have? In fact, they probably built it themselves, right in their back yard.
If you want to learn how to build a backyard bunker like your grandparents had, without breaking the bank, then you need Easy Cellar.
Easy Cellar will show you:
- How to choose the ideal site
- Cost-effective building methods
- How to protect your bunker from nuclear blast and fallout
- How to conceal your bunker
- Affordable basic life support options
Easy Cellar will also reveal how a veteran, with only $421, built a small nuclear bunker in his backyard.
- America's Natural Nuclear Bunkers: Find the Closest One to Your Home
- 56 Items to Stockpile in Your Easy Cellar