History Brief: Family Fallout Shelters
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History Brief: Family Fallout Shelters


Many communities were building large public
fallout shelters intended for thousands of people. But what if a public shelter wasn’t nearby
or became overcrowded? Were there any steps individual families could
take to protect themselves from nuclear fallout? Throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, many families
constructed personal fallout shelters in their backyards. Companies marketed several different “family
models” for homeowners hoping to protect their families. These ranged from a $13.50 “foxhole kit”
all the way up to the $5,000 “deluxe model” which featured beds, a phone, toilet, and
a Geiger counter for detecting radiation levels. Many families constructed their shelters in
the middle of the night in an effort to conceal the facility from their neighbors. They feared that neighbors, who did not have
shelters, would swarm their property in an emergency if they knew a shelter was there. Some families could not afford the commercially-produced
shelters, so there were a number of do-it-yourself methods for shelter construction. One popular method was to take an existing
basement and reinforce it for fallout shelter purposes. Many military surplus stores sold air filters,
flashlights, fallout protections suits, first aid kits, and water which people used to supply
their personal shelters. Civil Defense films encouraged the public
to maintain a two week supply of water and non-perishable food in their basements. They also recommended having a battery-powered
radio tuned to one of the two Civil Defense CONELRAD stations: 640 or 1240 on the AM dial. Today, most personal fallout shelters have
been removed or dismantled, but some might still be found in homes around the nation. However, most of the few that remain have
almost certainly been converted into basements, or storage facilities, and only serve as a
lingering reminder of the Cold War.

3 Comments

  • Albeit Einschtien

    I have a fifteen bedroom fall out shelter with full NBC oxygen supply system. Its fully stocked for three years for everyone. It even has christmas and birthday gifts for children who might be inside. I have added several automatic defence systems but it is almost impossible to find anyway as it is perfectly disguised above. I milked a lot of cows to pay for it, but i get a secure feeling when it is fully stocked and up to date. It is impervious to almost direct hit blast. I am ready to hunker.

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