I’ve been a prepper since 2012 and was born in the early 60s. I started prepping when Obama was reelected and realized we’re on our own to protect our families from the hazards of a dangerous world. One of my first purchases was a 1-ounce silver Eagle that stays in my pocket to this day as part of my EDC kit – a small metal cigar case that works nicely (maybe a future article on that). From there, research and then purchasing food, water storage, comms, medical supplies, guns, and getting trained.
Fast forward to late 2022 and early 2023. Based on the politics of today (and the Ukraine war) the most obvious way I see the US coming out of the divisive environment we find ourselves in is a major war (standard). I concluded there was a greatly elevated risk that a war will come and serve as a way to unify us against some problem/boogyman – worked before (the Civil war “to end slavery”, German and Japanese “defeating fascism” in WWII and to end the Depression, Iraq invasion of Kuwait, etc.)
Part of my research was to read – a lot. SurvivalBlog has helped enormously – many thanks to the smarter-than-me contributors for your ideas, motivation, and plans. One of the most thought provoking things I read was a book published in 1997 titled “The Fourth Turning.” You can search it where you buy your books (in cash – wink, wink). That book describes how our country goes through four 20 year cycles every 80-ish years and every major fourth cycle, or “fourth turning,” has ended in a war: the War for Independence, the Civil War, WWII, and now with the To-Be-Named-Later War. I can’t come up with a cool acronym for this so I’ll just think of it as the next war. The authors point out that each subsequent war was more deadly than the one before it. If the trend continues, and I think it probably will, we’re looking at an ugly mid- to late 2020s timeframe nuclear exchange for this Fourth Turning’s culmination.
In the last year I have taken a good look at my stock of nuclear attack preps and found I had a good deal of the right gear but it was spread all over my prep storage shelves and overheard racks in my garage. Much of it was inaccessible in a timely manner. By timely I mean about the time fallout from a nuclear attack might be a factor to my family’s survival. I live about 20 miles from a potential major target in the mountain west. I’m very confident we’d survive the blast from that distance, barring a major miss by the bad guys, which I know is a possibility. An EMP detonation is a possibility but it is not as immediately life-threatening as a nuke going off 20 miles away.
So over a long weekend this past winter I took on the arduous process of taking everything out of the shelves and overhead racks, cataloguing, consolidating, and replacing it all in a central location. When I was done, I had a “Nuclear Attack Quick Actions Checklist” and an inventory of nuke attack items I have, all settled into a single overhead rack in my garage. I also have a good plan to convert my basement “movie room” to a fallout shelter. Not a nuclear blast-proof bomb shelter, but a fallout shelter. Equipping either one will be roughly the same, but a bomb shelter can (not always) require pouring concrete putting up new walls and generally changing things my wife would not be willing to accept in our nicely finished basement.
First I identified the best space in my house. We live in a three story house, counting the full finished basement. The basement has windows along the main exterior wall and a walkout to the back yard through a sliding glass door. The good news is, I have underground square footage, with thick, poured concrete covered in dirt on three side. The bad news is that on that fourth side there is only a sliding glass door, some carpet and some drywall between my future shelter area and the fallout field that is also known as my backyard. The checklist below is not extremely detailed when it comes to exactly where everything is because I know where “Rack 1” is in my garage, I know where my water storage is, and I know where my food is. I’ve inserted details that I think add to this article in brackets “[X]” – you’ll see what a cleaned up checklist looks like if you remove that verbiage.
My intent is to help folks see that making a space to survive fallout is both doable and can be set up in around an hour or less if you’ve thought about it and planned for it. I’ve laid this out so my wife can do this if I’m away at work or travelling and the boom happens. It’s not a “how to” on how to survive fallout, although a lot of consideration went into the development of items to buy and place. This checklist is intended to give focus to my wife and I as we quickly move needed items into our shelter and do some quick home modifications before lethal amounts of radiation start arriving in my backyard and roof.
So, the bright light happens and the shock wave passes by the house – what do I do? Grab the physical checklist off of my workbench (it’s also in the “Notes” feature of our phones).
Assuming the mushroom cloud is blowing towards my house, I use one hour as the maximum amount of time that I think I’ll have before lethal fallout may arrive. While I or my wife are finishing up moving things and making modifications we may take some early fallout rads but there may be no way around that – the protections need to be put in place to prevent two or more weeks of constant exposure later for us and our kids. I have a few clip-on radiation detectors and dosimeters we’ll wear while working (more on them later).
The checklist starts below:
– Start by standing in the garage next to work bench looking at the garage door
- Look up, that’s “Rack 1” – it’s labelled with a “1”
- Take everything on overhead Rack “1” to the movie room [the “movie room” is a 10’ x 20’ separate room in the basement with poured concrete on three sides, planned to use as our fallout shelter]
- Locate the inventory sheet in the clipboard on the workbench to find other items [these are generally above my wife’s garage parking spot]
– Radiation protection:
- The key items are on Rack 1; includes respirators, Tyvek suits, gloves, goggles, extra filter, all the makings for a room air filter, Geiger counter [CDV-717 Geiger counter from ki4u.com – has the corded probe to give a reading outside the shelter], dosimeters [ki4u.com, CDV-750] and dosimeter charger/reader [ki4u.com, CDV-742]
- Nuclear RADTriage cards [ki4u.com] in white envelopes in frig/freezer door in garage
- Small white electric Geiger counter on work bench [GQ GMC-300E Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detector Data Recorder Beta Gamma X-ray]
- Key chain “NukAlerts” [from ki4U.com] – one in my black travel bag, one hanging above work bench, one in truck center console
- Use large roll of plastic wrap in Rack 1 and other large roll in cardboard box in front of mom’s car, and staple gun in garage left toolbox, second drawer from bottom, to cover windows in basement (inside first, then outside if time and fallout permit)
- Then do the main floor windows of the house, if able
- Put plastic sheeting up to cover the entrance to the stairs going down to the basement.
- Put up plastic sheeting (two layers, separated by 5 feet or so) up at end of the small hallway going from the movie room and leading to the pool table area [I realize this doesn’t make sense to the reader who’s unfamiliar with our floorplan but this sheeting will create a dust barrier between the door to the movie room shelter and the small hallway leading to the larger portion of the basement]
- Put plastic sheeting up to cover outside of movie room doors – like a shower curtain
- Grab all the books we can carry and lay them against the wall [outside the exposed wall of the movie room] by the pool table, all the way across, as high as possible, to block the back wall of movie room from radiation fallout that’s outside the house
- If able, tip over the pool table as additional barrier at the wall, plus put the ping pong table tops there too [again, this may be hard for the reader to follow but the idea is to put as much mass as I can between the fallout in the backyard and the movie room wall that faces the back yard]
- Move (son’s) mattress to block entry through the patio door opening, with his dressers brought out to hold it in place [a security feature, won’t do much against radiation]
- If you’re not finished prepping and loading and the fallout starts (NukeAlert is chirping fast), put on the Tyvek suits, gloves, foot coverings, and respirators (all on Rack 1) to keep working; take them off before you go back into movie room
- Wear dosimeter [yellow, pen-like, from ki4u.com] in shirt pocket or pinned to you at all times
- There are already four 5-gallon water jugs in the movie room window sill, covered in black plastic bags
Insert the “water bob” plastic storage bladders into the 4 bathtubs [WaterBOB bathtub Storage Emergency Water container] that are stored in the cabinets near all the bathtubs [location of the water bobs vary, but they’re in a closet or near the same bathroom with the tubs]
- Fill the WaterBOBs and close the top [depending on the grid power situation and the season and ambient temperature the water in the BOBs may freeze]
- If the grid fails we will need to take the tops off of the BOBs to let the water expand without bursting the bladders
- Remove the protective plywood sheet that’s latched to the front of water tanks in the garage to access the water faucets that are down low near the bottom of the blue tanks [Two, 120 gallon tanks from SureWatertanks.com. These tanks are covered by black plastic to hide their bright blue color and topped by ¾” plywood that serves as my gun workbench. The faucet openings are protected by another piece of plywood across the front of the two tanks, hidden in plain sight – this front piece of plywood is attached with simple latch system to make for quick access to the faucets]
- Find the white water hoses and connect them to one of the faucets near the bottom of one tank (hoses are in garage hanging on wall by mom’s parking spot) [standard RV hoses]
- The other end of the hose has a brass open/close valve already attached to it [HQMPC Super Heavy duty ¾” brass shutoff valve for garden hose]
- Run the hose down to the movie room [I’ve tested this and the two lengths of hose are good to go]
The hose end that ends up in movie room will have good pressure and a way to control the flow
- Use two of the 5 gallon buckets (there are a half dozen buckets in Rack 1) for grey waste water – water from hand washing, washing hair, sponge baths, tooth brushing, etc.
- Will occasionally have to dump this waste water into the basement toilet tank in order to flush the toilet if the water has stopped working (if it’s not backed up/flooded) or will have to pour it out one of the basement windows.
- Regular use of the basement toilet won’t be allowed until the radiation is low enough for a trip out of the movie room
- If you have time, and the clip-on radiation detectors aren’t “clicking,” then fill the two green 5 gallon water jugs (see garage inventory)
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)