Designing and construction primarily of fallout shelters

The construction of fallout shelters is currently suspended. We are working on a significantly cheaper version, but it still has to go through the completion of development and a number of tests.

Weapons of mass destruction do not possess infinite power. Their effects are frequently exaggerated either intentionally or from ignorance. Often intentionally, so that people remain in a constant fear of their effects and so they concur with the various governmental measures of many countries. The reality is such that even ordinary people can protect themselves quite effectively from the effects of weapons of mass destruction.



Possibilities of sheltering against the effects of WMD

The highest degree of protection is usually provided by underground fallout shelters. The price of family-sized fallout shelters usually runs into hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars, so for the majority of people they are unaffordable. Less expensive are partially sunk or fully above ground shelters. Also for these it is necessary to count with an investment of around 60,000 USD or more. Of course the price depends on the size of the shelter, the required resistance, the distance from targets against which nuclear weapons could be used, the type of subsoil, the level of underground water and so on. For whatever reason, those who possess no possibility to construct, or to have constructed, a family-sized fallout shelter, do have several options on how to protect themselves against the effects of weapons of mass destruction. The first option is to buy a place in some equipped fallout shelter; the second possibility is to modify an already existing cellar (the ground floor of the house as a last resort) into an emergency fallout shelter; the third option is to get together with relatives, acquaintances, neighbours or friends, and considerably reduce the overall cost for preparation. The final possibility is to do nothing and to rely on the assistance provided by the state. This is the cheapest solution, however also the most uncertain.

It is good to remark that it is highly unlikely that an attack with weapons of mass destruction would be carried out completely out of the blue. Practically, always at least several weeks of increasing tension in the world would proceed such an attack, and hence, there should be enough time to shelter.

Problems connected with fallout shelters construction

When someone wants to buy a sofa for example, then before buying one it is often just enough to choose the desired size, color, shape, and so on from some appropriate catalogue. With fallout shelters it is a completely different situation. The choosing of a shelter from some catalogue according to size, the type of equipment, the depth under the ground, the thickness of walls etc. could be very dangerous or needlessly expensive. Likewise, photographs of a shelter will not say much regarding the given shelter being sufficiently resistant with respect to the distances away from some risk targets.

Prior to the designing and construction of the shelter itself, we perform calculations on the basis of which we suggest a suitable type of fallout shelter (underground, partially sunk, or above ground). For these calculations it is necessary to know the important surrounding highrisk targets, for which nuclear weapons could be used for their destruction, or at least substantial damage, and their distance away from the planned site of the shelter. That is, for example, airports (even currently unused), chemical plants, large factories, major traffic junctions, towns above approximately 100,000 inhabitants, major dams, military installations, fuel depots, refineries, power stations, radar stations, rocket silos, ports and so on. With these targets we subsequently carry out a thorough identification and evaluate which of them could be an appropriate candidate for a possible nuclear strike. Knowledge of these sites and the exact location of the planned shelter enables us to calculate the required parameters of the shelter with respect to possible seismic influences (the horizontal and vertical shift of the ground which occurs in particular after an underground and surface nuclear burst), gamma radiation from possible fallout, overpressure at the head of the blast wave and also possible initial radiation. Furthermore, the construction of shelters depends upon the requirements for the number of sheltering individuals, the size…

As can be seen, it is not appropriate to apply one construction design of fallout shelter for all areas. The construction of a highly resistant shelter in an area where the destructive factors of nuclear burst would be weaker would be uneconomical. By contrast, the building of some low resistant shelter, albeit quite considerably cheaper, which would be closer to the center of the nuclear burst, could almost certainly be suicide at times. Even if the construction of such a shelter held out, the people inside could have problems, in particularly in the form of broken limbs, pelvis, or even spine. Shelters in such area then require specific modifications in order to prevent the injury or death of the sheltered people. The closer the shelter is to the epicenter of some nuclear burst, the more resistant it should be, meaning it is also more expensive.

A safe emergency exit is a matter of course in all of our shelters. Additionally, in the case of necessity, it is possible to get from each room to an adjacent room through an emergency hatch.

According to requirements, we arrange part or full equipment of the shelter, including the necessary wiring and so on.

For the filtration and ventilation of air we recommend manual filter ventilation equipment developed by ourselves, which operates entirely independently from electrical energy, meaning that it should function under almost any circumstances. Along with our filterventilation unit, we give a recommendation regarding a minimum quantity of filters which should be, in that specific area, sufficient for a variable long term stay inside the shelter. We also offer advices regarding where and how to filter contaminated air in order to obtain the longest workinglife possible from the filters.

For longterm sheltering we recommend to count with an area of at least 10 m2 (12 yd2) for each sheltered person.

Emergency fallout shelters in cellars

If a house with a cellar is not closer than 3–4 km (1.9–2.5 mi.) from the center of a nuclear burst (in some cases even less) then it is possible to consider using a cellar as an emergency fallout shelter. Generally it is agreed that the closer to the center of a nuclear burst the given cellar is, the more expensive modifications it will require.

The absolutely essential basis for the modification of a cellar into an emergency fallout shelter is a consultancy aimed at the effects of nuclear explosions, which, amongst others, includes detailed recommendations regarding what is necessary to do in order to modify a cellar (or house without a cellar) into a safe emergency fallout shelter with respect to the surrounding risk targets. Based on the recommendations mentioned in the analysis, the client can either make the necessary modifications himself, hire some company to do it, or turn to us. We undertake either full or partial modifications, converting cellars into emergency fallout shelters. The cost of converting a cellar into an emergency fallout shelter usually runs into the region of thousands to tens of thousands of U.S. dollars.

It is appropriate to stress that the resistance of such a modified cellar cannot compare with the resistance of a well designed fallout shelter. The main problem pose the blast wave (in particular for partially sunk cellars) and shielding against radiation from potential fallout. The weak spots of partially sunk cellars are, as a rule, the entrance door, windows or a garage door. To think that in a closer proximity to the center of a nuclear burst this would manage to hold the blast wave completely outside, (i.e. out of the partially sunk cellar), is very optimistic. Although in such cases, for a reasonable cost, it is possible to considerably reduce the effects of the blast wave, this reduction is not so great however as to prevent the blast wave from entering the cellar entirely. Therefore we have prepared a special construction which serves for the protection of people mainly in cellars.

Protective construction particularly against nuclear attack.

Our proposed shelter construction is designed to protect individuals against a blast wave, which would penetrate into the cellar, and also against a ceiling collapse, and simultaneously providing people with the necessary shielding against the radiation from possible fallout. Whilst designing this construction we also considered such a situation how to make it possible to leave if it was filled up with a collapsed ceiling. It is a construction which is assembled relatively easily and quickly, so it is enough to put it together almost at the last minute. In a disassembled state it occupies a relatively small space and therefore it is possible to store it away easily. Its price for the protection of a family of four ranges from 91,599 Czech crowns (approx. 4,259 USD or 3,528 EUR) – it refers to a straight forward construction of 4 m (4.4 yards) length x 2 m (2.2 yards) height x 1.7 m (1.86 yards) width.

Detailed information about the construction

At the moment of a nuclear burst, there is definitely no need to worry that if a person found himself situated at a distance of several metres (yards) away from this construction, because of preventive measures he would not have time to shelter. When we take into consideration that for running to this construction, and the subsequent sheltering, a few seconds would be enough, then before the arrival of the blast wave there should still be at least several seconds of time remaining. Therefore this construction we consider to be completely suitable.

Partially sunk and above ground fallout shelters

These shelters are particularly suitable in areas where an excessively strong effect from the blast wave and strong contamination of the terrain by local fallout are not expected. Mostly they do not represent a fully viable equivalent for underground fallout shelters. In order for them to provide a similar degree of protection to that given by underground shelters, their cost would not significantly differ from the price of the underground fallout shelters themselves. As a rule, these shelters cost around 50,000 U.S. dollars or more.

Underground fallout shelters

Not even in the case of underground fallout shelters it is possible to simply claim that they are resistant against a nuclear attack. The decisive factor is what degree of resistance they have, which means in other words, for how great an overpressure at the head of the blast wave they are constructed to withstand. The magnitude of the overpressure at the head of the blast wave is influenced by distance, the strength and type of nuclear burst, the shape of the terrain and so on. Apart from certain exceptions, during cases of the use of weapons of mass destruction they can be considered to be the shelters which provide the highest degree of protection, with which their price corresponds, which for the majority is in the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars region. The price depends on the size of the shelter and its required resistance, the type of subsoil etc.

Generally it cannot be said that the deeper underground the shelters are, the safer they are. With respect to the destructive factors of a nuclear burst, it is true that they are safer (also much more expensive than those being at a lesser depth), however if an exit got blocked for some reason, then with deeper sunk shelters it could be much more difficult to get through the emergency exit to the surface in time, and in some cases it might be totally impossible. Therefore we put significant emphasis on the possibility to leave the shelter safely in cases of necessity through the emergency exit.

From the point of view of concealment, the underground shelters are definitely the best option. As it is relatively cheap and easy to camouflage them, they offer an excellent degree of protection even in cases of gangs of looters which would be operating everywhere.

Fallout shelters with increased seismic resistance

Apart from the use of weapons of mass destruction, in areas where a strong earthquake of natural or artificial origin could also take place, fallout shelters with an increased seismic resistance are completely logical. These shelters can be either underground, partially sunk or even above ground. Their price depends of course on the required seismic resistance, the size, the type of subsoil, the distance from the individual targets for whose destruction or damage nuclear weapons could be used… The cost of these shelters runs into hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.

Sprung floors in fallout shelters

Primarily in the case of an underground or surface nuclear burst at a distance of approximately 2 km (1.24 mi.), it is necessary to count with the possibility of quite a large horizontal and vertical shift of ground. First and foremost the size of such a shift is influenced by the power of the burst and its distance, the kind of burst and the type of subsoil between the shelter and the epicentre. In a situation where a risk of considerable ground shift threatens a specific area, it is absolutely essential to provide sprung floors in the shelter. If in such an area the floor was not sprung, the people inside the shelter could have problems, in particularly in the form of broken limbs, pelvis or even spine. In such a case, the closer to the epicentre a shelter without a sprung floor was, the more serious injuries would occur.

For the purpose of sprung floors we have developed our own springing system. In our view it is most likely one of the safest practically used springing systems which can be acquired. The price depends primarily on the size of the maximum vertical ground shift in the area, the dimensions of the floor and its planned weight load. As for price, the springing of the floor works out as follows: in the case of a small room up to a size of approximately 10–15 m2 (12–18 yd2), the price ranges roughly from 1,000 USD/m2 (830 USD/yd2); as for rooms up to a size of around 25–30 m2 (30–36 yd2), the price starts from about 1,500 USD/m2 (1,250 USD/yd2).