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September 11, 2001 changed the world forever. 

Terrorist attacks can occur in any shape, any form, and anywhere. And how about the economy? Or solar flares? Mother Nature’s earthquakes can also create havoc on the world. All these serve as not-so-gentle reminders that we ought to be prepared … for just about anything.

Do enough searching on the internet and you might find the schematics for the perfect underground shelter, but when do you know if it’s the right time to build one?

“Having an underground shelter is like having life insurance,” says Marc “Eagle Eyes,” author of “Earth Changes, Get Ready” and the builder of 56 log shelters. “You certainly can be more relaxed about the uncertain future when you have a fully stocked underground shelter.”

The very point of having an underground shelter is being prepared before catastrophe hits, but if you’re looking for the perfect reason to start construction, examine these top five reasons.


If you’re convinced that an underground shelter would benefit your family, take these factors into consideration before you break ground.

  • Consider the longevity of the structure you have in mind. “You need to be prepared for a long stay underground,” Marc “Eagle Eyes” says. For instance, look at air pipe systems and ventilation options to ensure that you’ll have fresh air.
  • Think about the type of materials you’d like to use, based on your personal requirements. For instance, concrete or metal may be smart if you’re concerned about a nuclear leak. However, if privacy is a concern, you might consider using logs to create your underground enclosure, because they’re impervious to satellites.
  • Know who will construct your shelter—are you a master handyman or will you require assistance? If you don’t have advanced construction skills, you should hire someone to build for you or buy a pre-assembled kit, available at various locations and online.


The fear of nuclear materials being sold on the black market is a concern that permeates the thoughts of many Americans.

You can find resources on the internet to learn where historical enemy targets are located within the United States. Most of these targets are military bases, shipyards, missile silos, high-tech industrial regions, transportation hubs and highly populated areas like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

If you’re in these likely attack zones, it might benefit you to build an underground shelter right away. Many experts predict that a nuclear attack will happen, and some say it may happen in the next few years.


Take some time to consider where to place your shelter.

For instance, if your home is north of a military base, use the southern wall of a basement as a guideline for your shelter. You would, therefore, put as much mass (such as the soil piled against the basement wall) between the likely nuclear detonation site and its aftereffects. That means less radioactive exposure for you and your family.


Tensions persist in various parts of the world and, should there be a war, you may find that having an underground shelter will be invaluable—even a potential lifesaver.

Many are concerned about Israel and Iran’s nuclear sites, which may spread radiation across the Middle East. Others can see the possibility of dirty bomb attacks in the United States.

“It’s easier to think of all the reasons to build an underground shelter now rather than think of the reasons not to,” Marc “Eagle Eyes” says. “The governments of the world know something is coming, so as individuals, we need to take note and prepare as soon as possible.”


Consider these points about a potential nuclear attack
• Nuclear materials could be sold on the black market
• Likely targets for nuclear attacks include important military sites, naval bases, defense systems, industrial and manufacturing areas and transportation hubs
• Highly populated areas in and around major metropolitan centers could be likely targets


If the American, and closely-related economies, encounter significant difficulties, do you know what you’ll do if the value of the Dollar drops to nothing and societal norms begin to break down?

You can be the one who is fully prepared by building an underground shelter.

Consider creating a shelter that includes more than just survival gear. Here, you can store stockpiles of foods and goods that may be hard to come by in the event of an economic collapse.


  • Food
  • Water
  • Lighting tools
  • Radios and other communication devices
  • A comfortable sleeping area for everyone in your shelter
  • Toys, games and pass-times for children and adults
  • Food bowls, toys and accessories for pets


Images of natural disasters have no doubt burned into your consciousness.

Whether a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or flood strikes, the victims suffer more than trauma. They’re often left in the lurch waiting for aid—including drinkable medical assistance, water, food and shelter. Should a disaster affect you, you can allay these troubles by having all the resources you need, ready and secure in your backyard.


Even natural disasters that are far away can come knocking on your front door.

“It would only take another monster quake in Japan to push the reactors there to melt down,” “Eagle Eyes” warns. “Also, there are still some great concerns about reactor four in Japan, with its huge pile of spent fuel rods. If they melt down completely, that could make most of the northern hemisphere there a taboo area. That could mean radiation spreading across America, so you will need to get underground.”


Intense solar flares have been increasing beyond levels ever recorded before.

Not only do solar flares have the potential to wipe out power grids, but large coronal mass ejections (CMEs) could contain dangerous amounts of radiation, including fatal levels of gamma rays. That’s why the only place to be is below ground.

An underground shelter can be the assurance of life, not just a place to ride out a hurricane and its waning effects.

“Having an underground shelter is like having life insurance. You certainly can be more relaxed about the uncertain future when you have a fully stocked underground shelter.”
—Marc “Eagle Eyes,” author of “Earth Changes, Get Ready”

“If you are worried about solar flares …, you can cover the roof with ceramic tiles; that will give you protection up to 3,500 degrees,” “Eagle Eyes” says.

In other words, you don’t have to build your shelter 20 feet deep to be safe from solar flares.


Your underground shelter may not simply be a temporary living space—you should expect to be there for a week or more if a serious disaster hits.

Ensure that you stock the shelter not only with provisions such as food, water, flashlights and a radio, but also with comfort items that will allow your family to feel more at home. If you have kids, make sure you have a comfortable place for them to sleep as well as several toys and other items that are important to them. If you have pets, keep several pet toys and food bowls in the shelter as well. And don’t forget the adults! Games, puzzles, books and other diversions will be in high demand if you have to spend an extended amount of time in your shelter.

Suzanne Leder is a freelance writer who covers a variety of subjects in her work, including everything from Victorian home tours to the most helpful phone apps. She is also a novelist, and you can follow her on Facebook under the name S.E. Leder.


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in a 2012 print issue of American Survival Guide.