Building Your Own Shelter

Peter Larson, a Utah survivalist with a home and family, gave CNN a tour of his elaborate $65,000 bunker he built in the mountains in preparation for what he called “the last days.” There are even developers building luxury underground condos inside abandoned missile silos that stretch 175 feet underground, and cost upwards of $2 million per unit.

But you don’t have to break the bank to build an underground shelter that will keep you and the family safe in the event of nuclear holocaust, extinction-level meteorite impact and/or full-fledged police state oppression. All you need is a decent-sized backyard and the will to survive.

The Dig

You want your bunker to be a total secret, or known to exist by as few people as possible. When it hits the fan, and desperate neighbors are trying to escape nuclear radiation or government tyranny, the first place they will come knocking is your bunker. That said, try and be as discreet as possible when digging the hole. You can do it the old-fashioned way by hiring workers to dig with shovels, or have dig parties with friends who are guaranteed a spot in the bunker when it becomes necessary. A small excavator can be rented for as little as $50 per hour. The bunker should be 10 feet deep minimum, but for maximum protection from just about anything, go to at least 20 feet.

The Walls

Nukemap is an app that can simulate what would happen if a 100 megaton nuclear bomb was detonated in a given area. For instance, if one were dropped in New York City, nearly 8 million people would be instantly incinerated, while 4 million more would suffer serious injuries. The residual radiation from the bomb would linger anywhere from a few minutes to several years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Radiation Emergency Medical Management. The King County, Wash., Health Department recommends a concrete shield to protect yourself from gamma rays.

Get quotes from several concrete contractors who will also reinforce the walls with steel. The American Concrete Institute says that steel-reinforced concrete walls have 20 times the compressive strength (weight capacity) of normal concrete. This will not only come in handy if an initial nuclear blast is within a few miles of your bunker, but will serve as a near-impenetrable radiation shield. Make sure to leave small openings for an air filtration system, sewage elimination and even a spout to capture rain water for drinking.

Stockpiling

The last major expense will be for supplies. Batteries, food and water are the items you will want the most. Remember you may not be able to leave the shelter for a year in the event of nuclear holocaust. The bare minimum amount of water humans need to survive is about 68 ounces (two liters) per day, according to Human Rights Watch. This means each person needs about 180 gallons of water to survive for a year. Contrarily, humans can survive for weeks without food. Dried (i.e. jerky) and canned foods are best, as they can be stored at room temperature and will stay edible for years. Firearms, ammunition, flashlights, matches, hygiene and first-aid supplies are the other essentials.

All the aforementioned can be done for less than $10,000, if you exercise due diligence.

Radiological Contamination, Water Treatment and the Water Well

Well water is subject to contamination from above and below ground contaminants the same as surface water.  Agricultural and residential fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides are regularly found in ground water.  Industrial chemicals sometimes contaminate ground water and surface water.  Radiation and toxic chemicals found in water wells can be caused by the currently popular fracturing (fracking) process used by some oil and natural gas companies.  

Just as you can’t tell by looking if the water you wish to drink is contaminated with chemicals, bacteria and viruses, you can’t tell if it is contaminated by radiation.  Certainly you will need special equipment for that.  As stated in the article about purifying water, be on the look out for dead things in, on, or near the water source before approaching, touching, or using it.

Observing surface water is easier than observing ground water.  Plants and animals lying dead all around a stream or lake is a sure sign something is wrong.  Radiation contamination doesn’t kill instantly.  The animals may drink the water and go a long distance away from the source before they die.  When observing surface water, pay attention to more than the shores and banks.

Ground water is another matter completely.  While there may be chemicals and bacteria, there won’t be animals standing around the well dead or dying.  Instead, there might be people living in the area who can tell you about families who used a certain well or wells, who got sick and/or died from it.

But, let’s suppose you are in a world changing event and need to know if water is safe.  You’d get out your handy water test kit to check for chemicals.  Wait.  If the water is contaminated with radiation, you may have already contaminated yourself, simply by touching anything the well water may have touched.

Instead, when approaching a water well, get out your handy Fluke radiation detector (charged by your solar powered charger) to find out if there is radiation present on the ground or surfaces of the interior of the well. Once you have safely approached the well, be careful about how you get the water out of the well.  If the water is contaminated, breathing it’s fumes or touching it may likely will contaminate you.  If you are going to sample the water be sure to wear protective gear and use protective equipment if at all possible!

Once you have determined that the water is contaminated with radiation, it’s up to you to decide if the risk of contaminating yourself is worth the reward of cleaning the water.  Seriously, the only way most people would think the risk is acceptable is if there were absolutely no alternative sources of water and they were going to die before any other source of water can be found.

Major water purification systems designed to purify water for entire cities can’t even remove all the radiation contamination.  Since using a source of water contaminated by radiation will be difficult to purify, will ruin any filters and utensils, may contaminate you during the process, and still may not be safe to use, one would only consider this under the most dire circumstances. 

Right now, before some world altering event happens is the time to have your well water tested by professionals.  It should be tested frequently since changes can happen without warning signs.

 

Referenes:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/02/fracking-radioactive-water-pennsylvania/2904829/
http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/faqs/radiationdetection.html

Let’s Talk About Glorious, Sometimes Dangerous, Sunshine

Whether you want to call it solar wind, solar radiation, or a solar flare, there is a great deal to be considered if you are prepping for a geomagnetic event. When one realizes the seemingly limitless power of the sun you have to take a step back and wonder if a geomagnetic storm is the one event that everyone should prepare for as if they expect it to happen tomorrow.

Geomagnetic storms are increasing in frequency and severity even as I write this. The government has created special tools that any user can use to monitor the activities of the sun. Geomagnetic-Storms-effects-space-weather-technologyWhile the instrumentation used to collect and interpret the data is quite complicated, the reporting features used by NOAA are as simple as clicking a few check boxes.  Now, solar activity is monitored like the weather.

When insurance companies like Aon Benfield begin producing products to insure the losses of their customers because a geomagnetic storm caused severe damage,we should pay attention. While Aon Benfield believes that the risk is small they believe it is a viable market because the damage would be severe and have far-reaching consequences for both industry and the economy.   Aon Benfield has determined that the graphical representation of the risk is pear-shaped. This means they believe the likelihood of a geomagnetic event has a relatively low probability, but a high consequence.  Most likely, a solar event will cause damage in a localized area, much like a blizzard or hurricane.  Such a situation happened some years ago in Canada causing people in the local area to be with out power for a few days.

In the past insurance companies have covered damages to property as it normally occurs.  Except, in some incidents where they have been allowed to call an incident an act of God. An act of God is considered non-insurable. An example of such an event may include a cow standing in the middle of the road, in the dark of night, and someone would hit it with their car.  Most locations have since legislated that insurance companies must cover such things. The act of God clause still exists along with some added things such as government, military and terrorist act exclusions.

Another example of how an insurance company may or may not cover damages to property is mold. When toxic mold first became known as a danger to health and structure, people had to sue their homeowners insurance company to get them to pay for damage caused by mold. Shortly after these lawsuits were made public, insurance companies began specifically excluding mold from homeowners policies because it was a high frequency and high consequence risk. For a while the same companies sold a rider policy to cover mold damage. Today most companies do not ask if you would like mold coverage.

In the same way, many insurance companies may or may not cover damages caused by solar events.This is important to know because many things in your home and car could be damaged and you might want your insurance to pay the cost of repair or replacement.  Because Aon Benfield is launching an insurance program to cover this specific cause of damage, it would be my guess that this event will not be covered and could very easily be considered an act of God and not covered under a standard auto or home insurance policy.

Aon Benfield believes it can only cover minor to moderate solar events and that severe events would be catastrophic beyond the scope of their new insurance policy.  Their plan is to use the fears of people to make money selling policies while they hope there are no solar events.  Since terrorist attacks and military actions are excluded from almost all policies, they would not have to pay out for an EMP event as a part of war.  In the case of a naturally occurring, wide scale event, insurance companies are willing to take the risk that they may not be able to afford to pay out claims and could bankrupt themselves.  As a prepared society, we should measure the risks for ourselves and determine if we need to plan for such an event, maybe even buy a little insurance.

 

References:

http://dahasry.blogspot.com/2012/01/geomagnetic-storm-today.html

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2013/01/14/277348.htm

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/