Belowground Fallout Shelter

The plan on this page is for a fallout shelter constructed BELOW ground, giving you more protection from fallout radiation than on open ground. The data below was scanned in and converted originally by Robin Hanus, and the zip file of it can be found on my SHELTER PLANS page, as well as Robin’s website at Thanks, Robin.


H-12-1 / November 1983

(Supercedes H-12-1 dated June 1980)

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General Information

This family fallout shelter, designed primarily for homes without basements, is a permanent home shelter to be placed in the yard. It is designed to have a protection factor of at least 40, which is the minimum standard of protection for public shelters throughout the United States. This assures that persons inside the shelter will be protected against radioactive fallout following a nuclear attack, and will also have protection against earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Following are detail drawings of the shelter, which is capable of housing six adults. It can be built of poured reinforced concrete, precast concrete slabs, or a combination of concrete blocks and poured concrete. If it is built as detailed with the top near ground level, the roof slab can be used as an outdoor patio. The shelter is accessible by a hatch-door and wood stairway. Fresh air is provided by a hand-operated centrifugal blower and two ventilating pipes that extend above ground level. In areas where there is poor drainage or where the ground water table is close to the surface, the fourth modification on page 5 should be used.

Before starting to build the shelter, make certain that the plan conforms to the local building code. Obtain a building permit if required. If the shelter is to be built by a local contractor, engage a reliable firm that will do the work properly and offer protection from any liability or other claims arising from its construction.


It is generally advisable to have a written contract with your contractor, as well as technical specifications to supplement the drawing. A widely used and convenient contract form for construction of this size is the AlA Document A 107, “Short Form For Small Construction Contract-Stipulated Sum, “which is available from the American Institute of Architects, 1785 Massachusetts Ave., Washington, D. C. 20036. It would be impractical to write a technical specification to suit every local condition; however, the following summary of generally accepted construction materials and practices should be a useful guide.


The excavation should have side slopes gradual enough to prevent caving, or appropriate shoring should be provided. Materials used for backfill and embankment should have debris, roots and large stones removed before placement. The sub-grade for the floor slab should be level for ease in placing waterproofing membrane and to provide uniform bearing conditions for the structure. The area surrounding the patio should be sloped away at a minimum grade of I inch per 10 feet to provide good drainage.


For details of concrete construction, the “Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete (ACI 318 – 71)” should be followed. This publication can be obtained from the American Concrete Institute, Detroit, Michigan 48219.


Waterproofing specifications may be obtained from the nearest FHA (Federal Housing Administration) office, or those of a reputable manufacturer of waterproofing materials may be used.


The ventilation piping for the shelter should be installed in accordance with the practices outlined in the “National Plumbing Code (ASA A40.8 – Latest Edition).” This publication may be secured from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, N.Y. 10018. All pipe and fittings shall be galvanized. Suitable ventilating blowers and roof ventilators are available from many sources of supply. Fabrication details and consequently the installation requirements will differ for equipment furnished by the various manufacturers. Positive-displacement blowers having both electric motor and geared hand-crank drives are available from commercial sources.


To accommodate additional persons, increase the shelter length 2′-6″ for each two (2) shelter spaces. Do not increase the 9′-4″ width.

Electrical service for lighting and outlets may be installed in the shelter from a separate residence circuit. A branch circuit breaker should be installed inside the shelter. Additional lighting and outlets may be provided from this circuit for the patio above.

An electric motor and pulley may be installed to operate the centrifugal hand-crank blower by virtue of the electrical service option.

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Updated: June 20, 2009 — 9:09 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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