Good SHTF articles

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Minuteman, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I am going to be breaking ground on the new house this next year. I am reasearching safety/tornado/fall out shelters. I will build with this kind of security in mind. The following comes from a company that i am considering purchasing my shelter from. Some really good info about NBC and fall out protection. Much of their advice would be practical no matter the scenario. Local power outage or total EMP grid disruption.

    Weapons Effects
    Most city planners estimate that the largest nuclear weapon to be used against populations would be one megaton in size. References in this discussion are, therefore, made to these yields. The nuclear weapons effects of interest are electro magnetic pulse (EMP), radiation, blast, and thermal. We are also including information concerning chemical / biological warfare.

    EMP Effect

    Most experts agree that a full scale nuclear attack would be initiated by a high altitude (approximately 200 miles high) nuclear explosion, and that it would most probably be deployed from a satellite. A nuclear bomb detonated at that altitude will not damage living tissue, will not cause significant radiation fallout and is not a health threat to the population. The purpose of this explosion is to damage critical electrical circuitry in our retaliatory defense weapons and our military communications capabilities. This is accomplished by means of the electro magnetic pulse (EMP) associated with the explosion. One such explosion could affect an area of a thousand miles in diameter.

    Terrorist nations can deploy EMP weapons from surface to air missiles detonated from a ship in our costal waters. Iran's, Shahab-3 ballistic missile, if armed with a nuclear weapon, would have this capability. North Korea, an ally of Iran, boasts that they already have nuclear weapons with ballistic missiles capable of reaching these heights.

    Collectors, such as long runs of cable, house wiring, conduit, large antennas, overhead power and telephone lines, railroad tracks, etc., gather this energy in the form of a strong current and voltage surge. All solid state electronics is vulnerable to this energy surge. The equipment does not have to be attached directly to the collector in order to be damaged. It's possible for a collector to gather in the order of a joule of energy from a one megaton, high altitude explosion. The fact that a small fraction of a joule can cause permanent damage to electronic devices, shows that the EMP threat is a serious one. The damage to equipment could include automobile ignition systems, telephone and radio communications, airline communications, navigational aids, & computers. The power grid throughout the United States would most probably fail. It is estimated that about 95% of our radio stations would immediately loose transmission in an EMP attack.

    If a power drop is detected, care should be taken to test telephones, radio stations, and other equipment for loss of function. Many radio stations have alternate power sources, but only about 5% of our radio stations have been hardened against the EMP. If, after checking a battery powered radio, you find that most of the radio stations are not functioning, you should take shelter immediately.

    Immediately after the initial EMP explosion, SLBM's and ICBM's would probably be launched against targets in the United States. An ICBM from Russia would reach the center of the continental United States in about 25 minutes. A missile from a submarine could reach us in 8 minutes. However, we are not currently seeing Russian nuclear missile submarines in our coastal waters. The 25 minutes which the power failure alarm will give you could mean the difference between life and death.

    If you are asleep, a simple power-drop alarm would awaken you when the power fails. This alarm should be constructed by a certified electrician. Our electrician used a motorcycle horn, a 12 volt battery, a relay switch, and a flasher. The negative line from the battery was connected to the 12 V DC horn. When the 110 V AC currant fails, the relay closes the circuit, which activates the horn. He added a switch to the positive line from the battery to the horn so the horn can be turned off after activation.


    If the fireball of the weapon touches the ground, the blast is defined as a `ground burst'. In a ground burst, rock, soil, and other material in the area is vaporized and taken into the cloud. This debris is then uniformly fused with fission products and radioactive residues and becomes radioactive itself. It then falls to the ground as `radioactive fallout'. If the fire ball from the explosion does not reach the ground, the blast is said to be an `air burst'. Radiation (except for initial radiation) does not become a factor in an air burst.

    Gamma rays from the fallout can easily be attenuated by incorporating a 90 degree turn in the small diameter entrance. Entrances should not exceed 48 inches in diameter and the total length of the vertical and horizontal run should be no less than 25 feet. Approximately 90% of the gamma radiation is directed into the ground from the vertical portion of the entrance. The other 10% is almost entirely attenuated by the horizontal portion of the entrance. We recommend that the horizontal portion of the entrance be about 10 feet long and that it penetrate the shelter body on the side or on the end plate.

    The threat of exposure to initial nuclear radiation is confined to a radius of about one and one half miles from ground zero and would prove fatal to any unsheltered individuals. However, in hardened blast and radiation shelters, such as those that are being built by Utah Shelter Systems, people could survive all nuclear weapons effects, including initial radiation, within three quarter mile of ground zero. Shelters which may be within the initial radiation zone, must have at least 8 ft. of dirt cover and the entrances must be configured with the proper shielding and geometry.
    Gamma radiation is a great health problem for a two week period. Everyone should stay sheltered in a good fallout shelter for two full weeks. If blast is not a consideration, 4 feet of earth cover is sufficient to shield from gamma radiation. However, the entrances must still each have the 25 feet with both horizontal and vertical runs.

    Alpha and Beta radiation can be stopped by a few layers of paper. However , internal to the body, they are a great health hazard. We must be careful to wash the lids of dust before opening canned food, and wash and peel all exposed fruits and vegetables. Water purification, food preparation, and post war survival will be discussed in another section of this web site.

    Blast Effect

    In the detonation of a one megaton size weapon (which is roughly equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT), the fireball grows to 440 feet in just a fraction of a second. In 10 seconds, the fireball is over a mile wide. At the same time the fireball is forming and growing, a high-pressure wave develops and moves outward in all directions. This wave of air causes a huge increase in air pressure. At one quarter mile from the crater edge, the overpressures are about 200 psi. It is not expected that nuclear weapons with a greater yield than one megaton would be used against the civilian population. We are, therefore, limiting our discussion of blast effects to that yield.

    At approximately 4 miles from the epicenter, the winds are 165 mph and the overpressure is approx. 5 psi. Most homes would be destroyed, but it is possible to survive the blast in a basement shelter at that distance. The radiation shielding from the home, however, may have been destroyed in the blast. At 6 and 7 miles from the epicenter, there would be moderate damage to residences and the likelihood of surviving in a basement is greater.

    People housed in hardened blast and radiation shelters, such as are built by Utah Shelter Systems, would be expected to survive all NBC weapons effects at ground zero from an air burst (50 psi), and at one quarter mile from the crater edge from a one megaton yield ground burst. At that proximity, an 8 ft. diameter shelter must have at least 8 feet of dirt cover. A 10 foot diameter shelter must have at least 10 feet of dirt cover over head. Each person must have approximately 10 square feet of shelter space for short term survival (up to 2 weeks). Double this space requirement if the shelter is to be used as a permanent residence.

    Thermal Effect

    Within less than a millionth of a second of the detonation, large amounts of energy in the form of invisible x-rays are absorbed within just a few feet of the atmosphere. This leads to the formation of an extremely hot and luminous mass called the fireball. If we were standing 50 miles away, this fireball would appear to us to be many more times as brilliant as the noon day sun.

    You should never look directly at the fireball of a nuclear explosion. Because of the focusing action of the lens of the eye, especially at night when our pupils are open, thermal radiation can cause temporary and even permanent blindness.

    The thermal pulse travels at the speed of light and can last for a fraction of a second, up to several seconds. It also generally travels in straight lines, as does light. If there is no warning, you should drop and cover immediately. If you do have warning, you should take cover behind a large structure, or go to a basement or culvert. If unprotected you would receive third degree burns at 6 to 8 miles from the blast; second degree burns at a distance of 8 to 10 miles; and first degree burns at 10 to 12 miles from the blast. Burns would greatly complicate an otherwise survivable situation.


    Dress warmly. Cold people will not be happy or stay healthy. If properly installed, the shelter should stay at a constant temperature between 45 and 65 degrees F.


    Rotate sleeping into three shifts. Provide comfortable mats and warm bedding. Store earplugs for light sleepers. Two people (at least one adult) should be awake at all times. People need to be assigned to ventilate the shelter, monitor the radio, take radiation levels and constantly guard the shelter.


    Provide a separate area for the toilet and personal hygiene. You may wish to place curtains on the bunks, but be sure to leave adequate ventilation room.

    Comfort Foods

    Store foods that need little preparation. Store some ‘comfort’ foods and items that are familiar to the diet of the children. Make sure everyone is drinking enough water.


    Rotate sleeping schedules so that at least one adult is always alert and on duty.

    Read the Article on Sharon Packer from the Deseret News (January 28, 2007)
    Read the Lowell Wood Statement on EMP (October 7, 1999)
    Read the EMP Commission Report (July 22, 2004)


    Seldom do all members of a family have the same levels of concern, and it is sometimes frustrating to justify these protective measures to those we care about the most.

    We have been asked, numerous times, to expound on the following statements that have been genuinely made by others:
    <DIR><DIR>I would not want to be the only one to survive.
    I may not be at home when I need the shelter.
    There are no more "real" threats to our country.
    The government will take care of us.
    </DIR></DIR>The following is our response to these concerns:

    1. I would not want to be the only one to survive:

    Our Answer:
    According to the worst-case scenario forecasts prepared by the Department of Defense in 2002, the short-term casualties that would be derived from a full onslaught nuclear attack (Russia and / or China) would approximate 30% - 35% of our population with and additional 30% - 35% of our population dying over the following 6-8 weeks from starvation, dehydration, disease, inclement weather, contamination, attack, etc. In this forecasted worst case, 30% of our citizens would survive to start over and rebuild our country. At 290,000,000 people and growing, this means that almost 100,000,000 Americans would survive. Yes, we would be starting over and it would be hard at times. We would be living in a 3rd world country for a period of time. But, unlike our pioneer ancestors, we still have the knowledge and information from before, to build upon.

    2. I may not be at home when I need my shelter.

    Our answer:
    Government war strategists are in agreement that a full-scale nuclear attack would most probably occur during the night or early morning or during a national holiday. ‘Night time’ in America is ‘Day time’ in the countries of our most likely enemies. Our enemies would want to strike while we were asleep.

    Most people do not work or live in the vicinity of prime targets, providing time for them to return to their shelters in the event of a full-scale nuclear or terrorist attack.

    People who have prepared shelters are aware of their surroundings and in tune to escalating crises and the warning signs They have also pre-planned expedient sheltering capabilities and evacuation routes.
    Find more information in About NBC Effects.

    3. There are no "real" threats from which we need to be protected. Russia and China are our friends. The cold war is over. The government has the terrorists under control.

    Our answer:
    We have been preparing and building shelters for over 21 years, but we are continually amazed at the number of people who don’t recognize or believe that any "real" threats exist. Upon further questioning we most often find that the vast majority of these people do not read a daily newspaper nor watch a daily news broadcast. They are consumed with sporting events and spend their money on useless toys.

    Many people refuse to consider the possibility of an attack, because they believe nuclear war is not survivable. If there is nothing one can do, one tends to do nothing. They receive all their information from the media, which consistently tells them this is true. If we can educate these people to the real and fundamental effects of nuclear weapons, they may see that nuclear war is, in fact, very survivable and prepare accordingly.
    Find more information in About NBC Effects.

    4. The government will take care of us.

    Our Answer:
    There is a wide spread misconception that public shelters exist throughout the country. Some countries, such as Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, North Korea, China and Russia have provided shelters for a good portion of their population. It has been estimated by American strategists that about 30% of the population of the world have radiation and blast shelters. Russia has constructed multiple underground industrial communities. Switzerland, has provided 100% of their population with hardened NBC shelters.

    Our own government has provided hardened underground facilities for high ranking government officials and their families as well as for our critical mission personnel.

    My family members are my ‘critical mission personnel’. Where are the shelters for my family? The answer to this question is that we, as citizens, have not been willing to demand this level of protection for ourselves, nor have we been willing to be taxed to this level of protection. Legislation providing shelters will not occur until we demand it. Current localized disasters have proven that our government is there to assist us, but not to save us in widespread emergencies. More and more Americans are awakening to the reality that the world has become a dangerous place, and as a result, they are purchasing shelters for themselves and their loved ones.

    Find more information in Swiss Civil Defense Story.

    The government’s answer to providing for the common defense of the country is in the policy of deterrence. Deterrence is not defense. The concept of deterrence by ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’ is a misnomer. This form of deterrence exists only if neither side can defend themselves against weapons of mass destruction and both sides have equal numbers of offensive type weapons. Russia has both passive defense in the form of shelters, and active defense in the form of anti-ballistic missiles. America has neither. Further frustrating this policy is the fact that Russia continues to modernize every aspect of their strategic nuclear arsenal while we are dismantling our own. Our government has identified 28 terrorist organizations that have no country of claim. Deterrence against these terrorist organizations does not exist because there is no country to target or threaten with a retaliatory strike. Our government has identified seven terrorist nations. Deterrence against 3rd world terrorist nations does not exist either, because the government leaders of those nations do not value the lives of their own citizens.

    Mutual assured destruction (MAD) was never formerly accepted as government policy, but for the past 40 years, the concept has driven most all of our national defense decisions. Most everyone now agrees, however, that deterrence is no longer a viable concept. The greatest defense against modern day threats, in our opinion, is a strong national NBC shelter program and a nationwide anti-ballistic missile shield.
    Assessing Your Risk

    Most people consider the risk of a nuclear attack to be very small. No such attack has ever occurred in our country, therefore, they consider the probability of such an event to be near zero. Keep in mind, however, that a true risk assessment must consider both probability and consequence.
    Most of our national security strategists agree that the possibility of a nuclear attack from terrorist countries and organizations grows daily. The technology is well known and the nuclear fuel for such weapons is available on the ‘black market’. China and North Korea have made veiled nuclear threats against our borders; terrorist organizations claim to have ‘suitcase bombs’; and Russia and China continue to modernize every aspect of their strategic nuclear arsenal. Edward Teller, the father of the Hydrogen Bomb, recently said, "Every day we go without a nuclear terrorist attack is a gift". The probability of a nuclear event is greater than most people think.

    The consequences of a nuclear attack, in loss of human life and collateral damage, would be huge. The relatively few lives lost in the U.S. from hurricanes, flood, or the recent 9/11 terrorist attack would pail to the tens of millions of lives lost from a potential nuclear attack. When multiplying both the growing probability factor, with the huge consequence factor, we see a resulting risk that is very large. We believe this assessment easily justifies the expense and effort of installing hardened NBC shelters.

    There are certain classes of facilities that attract nuclear warheads in the first rounds of an attack. Obviously, any facility connected with America’s nuclear forces will be brought under attack in the first salvo including ICBM fields and launch control facilities, command and control centers such as NORAD in Colorado Springs, and the Air Force command center in Omaha. Air Force bases hosting long-range bombers, refueling/tanker aircraft, and continental air defense fighter aircraft are obvious first tier targets. Here’s where it gets a little more interesting. ANY AIRPORT WITH A RUNWAY CAPABLE OF HANDLING COMMERCIAL JET AIRCRAFT (737,757,767,777 ) would be a recipient of at least one nuclear warhead, most likely fused to burst at or near the ground so as to crater the runway, or at least heave gobs of contaminated material onto and around the runway. Strategists plan this to deny recovery of any surviving bomber or tankers. Any city of more than 200,000 population will most likely have runways of this length, nearby. The resulting fallout will kill many thousands of citizens and military personnel. Blast and fire will be a factor for a radius of 6 to 12 miles depending on weapon yield, weather, height of burst, etc. Be aware that weapons and delivery systems malfunction and can miss the intended target (but inevitably hit someone else). Also remember that a "rain-out" can occur increasing the gamma dose-rate by a factor of ten or more, (possibly 10,000 rads per hour) effectively killing everyone in the local area not shielded with an earth cover more than 5 feet thick.

    A correctly designed and installed shelter will effectively protect the health of its occupants in this environment, and will do so within one-half mile of the center of the detonation. In addition, the sheltered will be relatively comfortable, not just alive.



    Exercise the plan
    ‘Pre-disaster’ plans are required for ‘Post-disaster’ survival. A great deal of time and money is put into preparations for natural and man-made disaster. These preparations will be lost if the plan is not worked and the shelter not maintained.

    Batteries must be kept charged, water and food rotated, and all must be kept in a state of readiness. Occupants should be taught proper radiological monitoring techniques. Sheltering and preparedness must become a ‘way of life’. Make security preparations, and prepare for ‘post war’ survival. Store items that could be used for farming and the re-construction process.

    Spend time in the shelter sleeping, eating and practicing your plan. Practice what the family would do in the event of an escalating crises, or eminent attack. Turn off your power and let the family hear the power drop alarm, and then go the shelter. This should be an exercise similar to a ‘fire drill’.

    Duty List in the event of an Eminent Attack

    If the EMP alarm has been activated, switch off the alarm.
    <DIR><DIR>Check the telephone & radio for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). If you have seen arcing from your outlets, or if the test of the telephone & radio fails, send everyone to the shelter except one person. Don’t stop to retrieve anything except a flashlight. Every needful thing should already be in the shelter.

    If you believe your shelter is not located in or near a prime blast target area, the remaining person may wish to take time to close the curtains (to protect against the thermal pulse) and quickly turn off the natural gas or propane. The tool for turning off the gas should have been previously tied to the gas meter. Only do this if you are certain there is time. Your personal safety is more important than your home.

    The first person to the shelter should hold the flashlight on the stairs. An adult should enter the shelter first and assist the children down the ladder. After everyone has been assisted down the stairs, an adult should turn on one battery powered shelter light. One light should always remain turned on.

    Someone must be assigned to immediately turn the lever on the air intake vent to the ‘off’ position. This insures that no war gases, smoke, or radioactive particles will enter the shelter during the first few hours of the event. Practice this operation on a regular basis.

    An adult should immediately assist all children to lie down in a bunk or hammock. Everyone should have been pre-warned to stay away from the shelter walls, as a ground shock could cause severe injury through the sides of the shelter. They should be told to remain lying down for at least one hour.

    The last person entering the shelter, should close the door and lock the shelter from the inside. The lock will protect against the 'sucking pressure' that occurs immediately after the over-pressure. That same person should check again to see that the lever on the air intake vent was, in fact, turned to the 'off' position. He should then take his own ‘ready’ position in a bunk or hammock.

    Everyone should remain lying down (preferably on their stomach) in their bunk or hammock for at least one hour. They should continually be reminded to stay in that position, not to lean against the wall, and not to move around unnecessarily. This position will protect the individuals from ground shock. Be prepared to tell stories, sing, or talk reassuringly to the others during that holding time. If during that hour a blast occurs, continue holding the ready position for another hour.

    The ventilation system should remain in the closed (off) position for a 5 hour period to protect the filters from the initial dust, smoke and radioactive particles. After 5 hours, the hose should be attached to the gas filter and the assigned person should turn the lever on the air vent to the ‘open’ position. Make sure you have carefully studied this action, and that you are placing the hoses in the correct position. Do not turn the crank on the ventilator until these two actions have taken place. The assigned individuals should then turn the crank for 30 minutes to refresh the air in the shelter.

    Anyone entering the shelter at a later time should be instructed to enter through the air lock and wait for the positive pressure to re-establish. If they have been contaminated with fallout, they should remove their outer clothing in the decontamination area of the air lock and place their clothing into plastic bags. Fresh clothing should be stored in the air lock for those who may have received fallout contamination.
    </DIR></DIR>Personal space

    Each person should have room for their personal items. Storage space has been provided under each bunk. Each person should have their own supply of underwear, socks, extra clothing, shoes, personal medications and hygiene items.


    Store reading materials, games, educational materials, writing materials, toys and other items to keep the occupants occupied. Store a favorite toy for the children. Store a musical instrument such as a guitar or violin and encourage singing. Tell and read stories to the children.

    Talk about the future and reconstruction plans. Tell the occupants what they should expect to see after the event. If you have perceived a blast, prepare them for the possibility that their home and neighborhood will have been damaged.


    After two full days, turn on and listen to your radio for short periods of time. It is psychology imperative that you have outside contact. Plan to use your CB or ham radio sparingly, as transmitting on these radios requires a great deal more power than when they are in the ‘receiving’ mode. If others that you know have shelters, plan to use the same frequencies.

    Physical Exercise

    Encourage everyone to exercise. You may wish to include an exercise machine in your shelter. Everyone should have a turn turning the crank on the ventilator.


    Spend your battery watt hours carefully. There should be one light on at all times for the sanity and safety of the occupants. Carefully monitor your battery system to insure enough power to get through the first 3 weeks of the disaster. The tiny mini-volt lamps included in your shelter provide enough light to read by.
  2. RobertRogers

    RobertRogers Monkey+++

    Very informative post. Word has to get out.
  3. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

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