Safecastle | One Shop For All Emergency Essentials: Down Into the Bunker We Go

There are two ways to sleep well at night ... be ignorant or be prepared.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Down Into the Bunker We Go

As I thought might happen with this Bunker series, traffic is heavy. (See Part 1: Welcome to My Underground Bunker; Part 2: How to Hide a Fallout Shelter in the Middle of Suburbia, Part 3: Is There Good Reason to Hide Your Shelter?) So as you're passing through, don't linger too long at any one post, out of consideration for the tourists lining up behind you. ;-)

Today, we actually get to go down the ladder into the bunker, so watch your step. It's 10 feet down from the lip of the hatch to the carpeted steel floor. I HAVE built in a landing at the bottom to allow for some storage space underneath as well as to help break your fall in case you slip on the way down. But actually, the ladder rungs are of a non-slip variety, so there's little danger of taking a tumble.

Now I do hope you're not expecting something like the Greenbrier Bunker. After all, I'm not planning on housing any congress critters or executive branch royalty, and I don't even have any local government yokels on my guest list, so what you're about to see is but a humble one-family disaster lifeboat. Snug, but outfitted to do the job.

And you'll have to forgive me if I don't give you the FULL classified briefing on the facilities here. Quite simply, you are not cleared and do not have a need to know all that lies within.

The Rundown

This custom-built, made-to-order fallout shelter is constructed of steel plate up to 7/16" thick. The dimensions of this particular shelter are 7' tall, 8' wide, 16' long.

The construction is fully double-sealed and coated against moisture seepage. Magnesium anodes on the outside deliver corrosion protection in most conditions for up to 90 years or more.

The several-hundred-pound blast door/hatch is 32" x 32" with heavy duty latches, hinges, and lift cylinders to ease the lifting and lowering of the door. It easily snaps/locks from within to keep out everything from F-5 winds to no-good zeros who would dare to try to enter. I have hooked up a half-ton manual hoist onto the underside of the hatch that allows us to easily maneuver heavy loads into and out of the shelter.

The shelter comes standard with a state-of-the-art NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) air filtration system rated to support 12 people for an indefinite period of time. The filtration unit itself is powered electrically or manually in the event of power failure. The system is designed to maintain a clean, safe, positive air pressured environment within the shelter and includes steel blast valves to prevent explosive air pressures outside from compromising the internal air quality.

The shelter is ducted into the home's HVAC system but is easily sealed off from the external system from within when the need arises.

The bunker is wired with two circuits (120 and 220) for power. A generator plugged into the home's transfer switch also accommodates the power needs below in the event of a blackout. Further, there are stored, chargeable electrical power sources within the shelter.

A landline telephone, external cell phone antenna with various adapters, DSL, external broadcast TV antenna, and satellite TV are also wired in.

Hardwired, hidden external video cameras are powered via the circuits inside and a monitor within keeps occupants apprised of what is going on above ground.

There are three fold-out steel-framed bunks engineered to support up to 1000 pounds each. The floor is fully carpeted. A fold-out table is mounted on the wall. There are wire shelves along the walls and a tool bench in the corner.

On one wall is a colorful, photographic wallpaper mural of a mountain lake scene, to sooth any claustrophobic tendencies someone might have inside.

Of course, there is a fair quantity of water, food, tools, books, games, a laptop, supplies, and miscellaneous equipment taking up much of the available space ... but not TOO much space to preclude us from quickly shoehorning our entire family down there if that time comes unheralded.


A good friend, Scrapman, asked what one could do if trapped inside and heavy debris fell over and blocked the hatch door. Actually, there WOULD be a few options ...

1. We'd deploy the 10-ton hydraulic jack mounted under the hatch specifically for that purpose. If a few cranks on that thing fails to move the blockage ...

2. We'd get to work on opening up the back door. Actually it's an emergency exit that requires loosening something like 32 or 36 bolts that hold that exit plate onto the ceiling. Above it is a quantity of gravel and a waterproof barrier (selected to head off winter-frost freezing solid the ground above that is part of that outside escape route).

3. We would also have the possibility of dialing out for help if all is well with one of the phone or radio options in place.

Next point--Earlier in this series, I mentioned the gentleman last year who aided tremendously in determining how I should best approach my bunker plans. He came at it from a concrete contractor's perspective and I learned a great deal about concrete bunkers and their utility. I spoke again with him last night and he gave me his permission to name him here in case anyone in the Twin Cities area is interested in a concrete bunker. His name is Bud Borglund, and he's got his own prominent contracting business. If you'd like to get a hold of him, email me and I'll put you in touch.

Do You Want One?

So what do you think? The world can be a pretty scary place, and there are times all of us start wondering about what direction our future is taking. But to be frank with you, I have never felt quite so good about the world and its prospects.

Why? Well, OK, I'm a bound and determined optimist who looks for the positive and tries to build on those opportunities. But on a real personal level--my gut is thanking me for putting in the shelter ... and so too is my wife who had a reservation or two last year. Having the bunker as a safe, secure, convenient retreat for a wide range of threats sure does make the world seem a bit rosier. Laugh if you will--it sounds like a sales pitch--but it's true. And other bunker owners will tell you the same thing. What a well-built bunker buys you is unparallelled peace of mind.

Easier Than You Think

Now HERE is the sales pitch ... if you're interested in one of these for your own family, email me. This year, I was so pleased with my shelter experience I agreed to help the builder/installer market his product online.

Not that he needs me or anything ... he's been building and installing these shelters all over the US for more than 10 years ... for government agencies (to include FEMA), large and small corporations, and households across the country. His shelters are designed by a structural engineer certified in all 48 of the continental US states to far exceed FEMA standards. And he builds each shelter from a menu of sizes and options so that it is exactly what you want and need. Storm shelters start from as little as $3700 (5x5x8). Well-equipped fallout shelters start at $14,600 (6x6x12). We also offer above-ground saferoom installations.

We are continuously backlogged and the business is growing. Imagine that. Why would demand be so strong? Well, that's perhaps what all the other posts we've made in this Refuge blog can provide clues to.

But does that increasing demand mean if you want one NOW, you have to wait for long before you could have some of your own deeply rooted peace of mind? Nope, it doesn't. You can have your own installation completed (installations normally are done in one day by the builder) in a matter of 2-4 months.

Get on the short list. You never know when something could happen that would make it a very long list.


Unknown said...

i am interested in getting some information but i can not get the email address. can you please provide me with the email address on this posting. i am particularly interested in how much this unit will cost and how it will be shipped. thanks

Jeff Varnell said...

Hi Ken. I tried replying to your subsequent message in which you provided your email address. It came back as undeliverable. Please go to our shelter site:

There you can click on our "Request a Brochure" link. We'll send one to you free, with complete price lists.


Anonymous said...

Hi JC, for several years now, I've been reading about the 2012 solar flares issue. Very scary. Would your shelter(s) protect against such a scenario for 1 or 2 years? Also, can the installation be done covertly? I'd want this to be ultra private. Could the construction be done by opening up a cinder block wall in my basement?

I'd also be uncomfortable with the township knowing about the construction. It's a small town area -- and gossip is the main sport.

I'll bet Jesse Ventura has increased your business! Won't our government aristocrats be flummoxed when they come out of their 1st-class underground bunkers and find that many of us common folk have survived?! I guess they'll have to declare Martial Law to keep us from tearing them to pieces for their lack of concern for our welfare.

Thanks for your blog,