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Nuclear Fallout Shelters Near Me: Your Home When It’s Raining Nukes

Last Updated: July 12, 2023

With tensions of the Third World War rising, many experts are concerned about the usage of atomic bombs, which radiate immense heat, radiation, noise, and shockwaves, resulting in massive destruction. 

Those exposed in the open would suffer massive burns, blindness, or lung damage.  Inhabitants can also be seriously harmed by collapsing buildings and flying debris. 

Furthermore, tiny irradiated dust, called nuclear fallouts, will cover the surface, exposing organisms to cancer and radiation sickness, which can be fatal after three days. 

Survivalists are concerned about their safety during the imminent nuclear war, and to combat it, they begin preparing for doomsday.  To survive a nuclear war, you need supplies, equipment, and most importantly, a fallout shelter.

What Makes a Good Fallout Shelter?

According to US Saferoom, fallout shelters are underground enclosures in which the inhabitants are protected from annihilation by the nuclear bomb.  Additionally, fallout shelters must be able to hold occupants for days on end, sometimes weeks; they must have amenities for basic survival.

The shielding of fallout shelters must be dense to reduce exposure to harmful radiation. The material chosen for construction is often concrete or lead, which is exceptionally resistant to radiation or explosion. Underground shelters provide more protection because soil can nullify a small amount of radiation. Additionally, shelters could be built overground if they are on the middle floors of a building with more than ten floors.

Thermal regulation also plays a major role in survival, as the nuclear explosion resulted in extreme temperatures, often higher than 3,000 °C right after detonation. 

Despite ventilation allowing fine dust to enter, it is not highly hazardous or radioactive; extensive filtration systems are not required. Installing cooling fans or ventilation will keep the shelter in livable conditions. 

The further away the shelter is from the blast radius, the better. The nuclear bomb’s explosion would cause extremely strong shockwaves, heat, and radiation in the areas close to ground zero (the area where the bomb detonates). As the distance from ground zero increases, the radiation, temperature, and shockwaves subside due to energy loss. 

Supplies are crucial for survival in the shelter despite the lack of activity within it. Food with a long shelf life (e.g., rice, canned vegetables, or dried beans) is recommended during fallouts as they have long durations.  For both perishable and nonperishable foods, store them in suitable conditions to extend their lifespan. Any available water containers should be filled and stored safely in the shelters before the fallout.  Medicine, especially potassium iodine, is strongly advised to be reserved in the fallout shelter in case of emergencies. Always remember to replace supplies, if necessary, every six months.

Tools are survivalists’ best friends; they aid them in fixing any malfunctions in the equipment.  From fortification to “home” repairs, you can be out of harm’s way with a small box of tools at bay, just in case.

Despite the lack of necessity, it is good to have furniture for inhabitants to use. Beds, sofas, or even dining tables provide survivors with a sense of normality.  This lowers panic and provides comfort to your dwellers, resulting in better conditions.

Lastly, EMP-proof radios should be placed in the fallout shelter as a means of connection to the outside world.  By tuning into emergency broadcasts, one can be informed of updates, guidelines, and when to evacuate.

Finding a Fallout Shelter

The tell-tale fallout shelter insignia

Survivalists can quickly locate their nearest fallout shelter via the internet if one is available. Government websites provide great details about the location and availability of the shelters. News, social media, and emergency alerts all provide guidelines and locations for shelters. One can look for public buildings with a fallout shelter sign, especially shopping malls, stadiums, or convention centers. Concrete buildings, subways, or underground parking garages also provide ample protection from nuclear explosions and their fallout. 

Certain infrastructures, such as mine shafts or caverns, are to be avoided as they can collapse after explosions, resulting in possible 

 An interactive map, namely NukeMap calculates the blast radius of an atomic bomb which has a major effect on survivability. You should find shelters that are as far from ground zero as possible.

Can’t Find Any? Make It Yourself!

The corrugated steel culvert shelter is a design of a fallout shelter that is cheap and durable. It was widespread among American households during the Cold War.

Even if there are many fallout shelters in one’s area, this doesn’t stop survivalists from building one from scratch. Staying in your private shelter instead of a public one can be beneficial as many public shelters don’t contain supplies, are often crowded, and are far from your location. Additionally, other survivors, whose bodies could be covered with radioactive fallout, could enter the shelter, letting the fallout in when the doors are opened. Therefore, it can be more practical to stay in your shelter.

Choosing the best location for your fallout shelter is detrimental to its stability. Before planning the layout, one should check the conditions of the soil as packed soil provides higher stability and protection from radiation. Avoiding areas with trees can reduce the risk of obstacles, such as trees, falling on your shelter. One could use pre-existing buildings inside their homes, for example, basements, laundry room, or root cellars, to build shelters. Refraining from building shelters in steep areas or near bodies of water.

To build a fallout shelter, one would need durable and thick building materials, such as bricks, cement, or metal rebars. Sandbags, filled water containers, or even stacks of books can provide additional reinforcement to your shelter inexpensively. Preppers should refrain from using thin and combustible materials, such as wood, to build fallout shelters. Avoid making openings as they let in fallout.

Being informed of the outside world is crucial during a fallout, and radios are the most reliable communications device during an emergency. As underground areas have weak radio signals, it is best to build an antenna above the shelter to improve signal quality.

Sanitation is very crucial to the survival of dwellers as it decreases infections. When entering a shelter from an expedition, one should be rinsed in water and dressed in clean clothes. Tissue, wet wipes, and soap can improve cleanliness in your shelter. An extra pair of clothes can improve one’s hygiene. Using a container, trash bags, and a specific toilet seat will allow survivalists to relieve themselves in the comfort of an emergency toilet.

Sleeping improves the morale and vitality of survivalists; bringing bedding and pillows can help one sleep better at night, reducing stress.

Supplies, such as food, water, and medication, should be stored safely within the fallout shelter. Their shelf life must be more than three years without refrigeration as there is no electricity. Potassium iodide, a type of medication, should be packed to protect one’s thyroid gland from radiation.

While survivalists can plan out fallout shelters on their preferences, there are many blueprints online that can be proven effective. For the latter option, here is a website for fallout shelter plans.

What to Do in a Nuclear Explosion?

When a nuclear bomb strikes, you will have more than 10 minutes to locate the nearest shelter before the fallout sets in. According to the Ready Campaign, an American National public service campaign, one should do the following should a nuclear emergency occurs:

  1. If you are informed of an incoming nuclear explosion, take cover behind any structure.
    • If you are in an open area, lie face down to cover any exposed skin.
    • Avoid making eye contact with the explosion.
  2. After the explosion took place, get inside a shelter or a  large building before the fallout.
    • Bring your emergency kit during your stay as anything can happen
      • The kit should contain…
        • Food and Water
        • A set of clean clothing
        • EMP-proof hand-crank radio
        • First-aid kit and 
        • Gas masks
        • Flashlight
        • Batteries and power banks for mobile phones
        • Duct tape and plastic sheeting
        • A sleeping bag
        • Wrenches, pliers, and can openers
        • Personal sanitation equipment
    • If you are inside a vehicle, please exit as it doesn’t provide any protection
    • Public fallout shelter
      • The location of the public shelters will be provided by government officials
      • Emergency fallout shelters are often located far away from ground zero
      • Bring important papers and identification as well
    • Private fallout shelter or an improvised one
      • Distance yourself from ground zero to minimize fallout
      • Avoid rooms with windows or openings
      • Avoid rooms with roofs or exterior walls
      • Get into the middle of a building or its basement
      • Close windows, doors, and fireplace dampers
      • Turn off fans, air conditioning, or air-heating units to stop bringing fallout particles inside
      • Reinforcing the shelter with any material found in the building
  3. If your clothes are covered with fallout dust, carefully dispose of them before entering the building and clean yourself.
    • Take a shower or use wet wipes, then put on clean clothing
  4. If you cannot be inside a building, cover your face with a mask or cloth to reduce the number of radioactive particles entering your body.
  5. Remain inside the shelter until the authorities tell otherwise, except for emergencies.
  6. Follow instructions of authorities
  7. Be informed about any updates with any electronic device

To prepare for future nuclear emergencies, one should prepare a supply kit, make an emergency plan, and add real-time alerts to your mobile device to improve chances of survival.

Fallout Shelters Maps

Below are links to maps of public fallout shelters in the USA.

Assume that you won’t be able to use these shelters, though, as most have been completely neglected. Some of the shelters might even be sealed shut. Others might be impossible to access during an emergency, such as military bunkers, which are guarded.

You must scout the fallout shelters on the map yourself!

Also, check out the Civil Defense Museum’s Collection of Community Shelter Plans. This collection has old maps showing where fallout shelters were in the 1950s and 60s. They have plans for many places in Texas, Baltimore, Massachusetts, and more. Many shelters are likely discontinued, but you might also be surprised to learn that there is a fallout shelter near your home.

You can also go to Ready.gov Shelters to search for shelters. Most of these are not for fallout but for shelters for natural disasters like hurricanes. However, since a natural disaster is much more likely than a nuclear attack, it’s good to know where these shelters are located too.

What If You Can’t Find a Fallout Shelter Near You?

Since it’s unlikely that a fallout shelter will be close enough to you to be helpful, you should be aware of other safe places. Locate areas that have dense, thick elements all around them. The finest materials for protection against radioactive fallout are these ones. Here are a few choices.

1. Basement or Crawlspace of Your Home

If a nuclear explosion happens while you are at home, going into the cellar is probably the best move. As previously stated, it is preferable to find sufficient shelter rather than risking high exposure by attempting to travel to a better fallout shelter that is situated halfway across town.

While basements alone don’t offer much protection from fallout, there are easy ways to improve security, such as constructing sandbag walls and hiding behind them. Some of the debris would be captured by the sandbag.

2. Large Office Buildings

Large structures can offer excellent protection against fallout because they are typically constructed with a lot of steel and concrete. The cellar is the ideal location, but a room inside can also offer security. Shopping centers and other sizable structures can also offer security.

safest place against fallout

3. Underground Parking Garages

Try to get to the lowest level and the most interior part of the parking garage.

One study found that the -1 level of parking garages had PFs ranging from 491 to 794.

At the -4 level, the protection was up to 6,397.

4. Mines and Caves

3 feet of subterranean space will increase your protection factor to 5,000. Despite having open entrances, mines, and caves still offer excellent protection from fallout, even though the real PF would probably be lower.

The issue with using a mine or tunnel as a fallout shelter, though, is that it’s unlikely you could get there quickly enough. As previously stated, it’s typically preferable to remain in a less-protective shelter (like your cellar) than to take a chance on getting hurt while attempting to reach a cave or mine. Additionally, if others are thinking the same thing and it is packed with sick people, don’t be shocked!

5. Subway Tunnels

The underground nature of subway passageways makes them immune to radiation. They frequently have PFs above 100.If it weren’t for the ventilation and entranceways located throughout the system, the PF would be greater.

By moving farther into the subway system and away from entrances, you could improve security. (and also further away from new people entering with contaminated clothing and skin). A flashlight in your EDC would be helpful for guiding you deeper into the passageways, assuming it wasn’t destroyed by an EMP.

6. Underground Tourist Attractions

Tunnels, caves, catacombs, and other underground tourist sites are commonplace. If you can get there in time, these could offer great defense from fallout.

7. Abandoned Underground Locations in Cities

Search for “urban exploring underground city name” on Google. There are a lot of really interesting locations that could serve as fallout shelters: deserted subway stations in Philadelphia or the San Francisco underground passageways.

Or secret tunnels you can enter from cemeteries.

Following a nuclear disaster, these underground locations are less likely to be crowded than famous tourist spots. Although you might have to scale a few fences to enter, you might have the area to yourself, restricting your interaction with those who have been exposed to fallout.

abandoned underground fallout shelter locations


In conclusion, the potential effects of a nuclear war are catastrophic, and it is crucial to take necessary precautions to ensure survival in the event of such a disaster. The creation of a fallout shelter and the acquisition of essential supplies and equipment are essential steps for anyone hoping to survive a nuclear war. It is important to take this threat seriously and make preparations accordingly, as the consequences of failing to do so could be devastating.


  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/06/thinking-the-unthinkable-dont-rely-on-these-historic-fallout-shelters-in-case-of-a-nuclear-attack.html
  2. https://urbantimesonline.com/2020/03/16/fallout-shelters-had-their-day-in-cold-war-era/
  3. https://remm.hhs.gov/IND_ResponsePlanning_LLNL-TR-410067.pdf
  4. https://www.vice.com/en/article/nz8jpg/how-to-survive-the-first-hour-of-a-nuclear-attack
  5. https://www.britannica.com/technology/nuclear-weapon/Residual-radiation-and-fallout
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