We are living in times when people believe that a growing economy and an increase in job opportunities equates to some strange kind of mayhem, destruction, and chaos.
Also foreign adversaries are just as eager to cause problems no matter what we do to advance ourselves and our allies.
Combined with all the natural disasters that are increasing in rate and severity, prepping and complex survival scenario planning become more important than ever. Having a survival shelter helps you survive, and so is ensuring that others cannot find it.
Keep reading to find out how to keep your survival shelter our of sight!
1. Build the Shelter Underground
One of the easiest ways to make a survival shelter invisible is to build it underground. People that are looking for food, supplies, or other resources will usually look for buildings that may house what they are looking for.
If you build your shelter underground, there are some other advantages when it comes to keeping its location as secret as possible.
Underground shelters are some of the best when it comes to noise dampening, which is especially important if operating machinery underground, or having children living with you in the shelter. Remember, even one stray sound, no matter how faint, can reveal the presence of a shelter and people taking refuge in it. Minimizing this risk with an underground shelter will be an advantage.
Once you start tunneling underground, you can build the shelter a good distance away from the entry point, giving you plenty of room and options for making it harder to locate the shelter from above ground.
For example, you can use decoys as well as other methods to make people think they found your hiding place, even though you are still in a safe place with all of your supplies. Unfortunately, if you have only a small amount of land, creating decoys and distractions can be very difficult for above-ground shelters.
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2. Choose Materials for Avoiding Radar and Other Sensors
Not so long ago, metal detectors and other devices were fairly expensive. Also, various kinds of radar devices and thermal heat signature detecting devices were either extremely expensive or unavailable to the public.
But today it isn’t impossible to build or get a hold of this equipment on your own, which means that protecting your shelter from electronic detection means may be more complicated than expected.
One of the most important things to do is make sure that thermal signatures such as bodies, heating systems, and other heat generating devices remain undetected while in operation. Also make sure that metals and other signatures are not easy to pick up in shapes that might interest those looking for supplies or anything else that can be used.
Underground shelters can shield from a lot of different devices, but there are others that can pick up cavities, metal signatures, and many other things that may reveal the location of your shelter or any decoys connected to it.
So if you decide on an underground shelter, make sure that you know how to break up the appearance of key signatures or find other ways to hide them, using paints that block or absorb certain frequencies, or other materials used to make the entire area look like an old debris field.
3. Choose Unusual Shapes
If you are building a shelter from scratch, unusual shapes that fit the landscape will offer the best insofar as invisibility. For example:
- Terrain with a lot of boulders or outcroppings would be a good place to build something that looks like a natural cave. You can use stones from the local area for more of an effect. Just remember to avoid setting the rocks into an unnatural building pattern. It is also important to avoid squares, rectangles, circles, or anything else that doesn’t look like a random pile of rocks.
- In a forest, build your shelter to look tall and narrow. If you are cutting down trees to clear a small area, you can build the house in a tall, cylinder shape, and then put bark around the outside of the shelter for a more realistic effect. Put vines along the outside of the structure or other plants that will grow and cover what should look like a dead tree trunk. This may be a fairly small shelter, and you can also build more than one to hide caches of good and supplies.
- Underground shelters on grasslands will be best if they are as even as possible with the ground. Unless you enter and exit the shelter too much near the cavity, it should remain well hidden once the grass grows over it. Ground penetrating radars can still be a problem, so try building the shelter in odd shapes that look like an underground cave or something else that would be of no interest to people looking for you or your stockpile.
- If you live near a waterfall or other area with running water, explore the possibility of building a shelter behind the waterfall, and research on underground mining and tunneling carried out by Cornish miners. When it comes to building an invisible shelter, very few people will even think to look under a pond or some other area deep below the surface of the running water.
4. Make the Shelter Amenable to Different Coverings
In any environment, brush, dust, and many other things will build up around items where people don’t clean up or move things around. When it comes to keeping your shelter invisible, making it look like no one is there is very important.
If you are using a conventional wood or brick structure for your shelter, make the walls, roof, and other surfaces amenable to different coverings, using vines, dust, and even garbage that may blow into your yard from time to time.
If you think of shelter coverings as being like a ghillie suit for buildings and shelters, then it may give you some good ideas about how best to hide your shelter from prying eyes. You want the shelter to blend into the landscape so that people don’t see it or recognize it for what it is.
Even breaking up the impression of straight lines in a shadow can make the difference. No matter how you look at it, coverings that break up light and shadows are bound to be as important as they are when you need to hide your physical presence in various settings.
5. Pros and Cons of Making the Shelter Look Abandoned and Unliveable
Making your shelter look derelict on the outside can have advantages and disadvantages.
On the positive side, people looking for expensive things to steal, food, weapons, or other valuables will more than likely look for buildings that are in better repair. If your home looks rich and expensive, then there must also be something worth stealing inside, so better looking buildings and their occupants will be looted and invaded first during a riot.
On the other side, in the later stages of a major crisis, most rioters and others will be homeless and looking for any place to stay. So homeless and desperate people will look for shelters that are the most run down to inhabit.
If they think the building is abandoned, the homeless will crawl into just about anything and build a fire or do something else to make the shelter more comfortable. Under these circumstances, homeless people passing through your area even now may decide to try and inhabit your survival shelter.
6. Disguise it To Look Like Something Else
Unless those searching for you have advanced radar or other detection systems, appearances can be your best weapon for making a shelter invisible. Aside from terrain specific shapes, there are some other ways to disguise the shelter to look like something else:
- Never allow the outer walls of the structure to look like man-made formations. This means the shelter should have an irregular appearance with crooked outcroppings or plenty of areas that look like they will fall down at any moment.
- Large enough cement sculptures or ones made from other materials can be used for very small external panic rooms or other shelters. They can also make a good place to hide trap doors to underground shelters. You can even use plastic bottles filled with sand, or many other materials that will simply look like a garden ornament or something else that isn’t related to a survival shelter. Even if you only build something that is 10’ x 10’, it may be enough to hide a trap door or a cache that you can live on for several days.
- Building a shelter that looks like something else may be as simple as getting an old car frame from the junk yard. You can take this exterior and make it look like an ornate flower planter, or an unusual sculpture. While this “artwork” may be in plain view, people may not realize that the entire inside has been hollowed out and that there is enough space for you to sleep, cook, and even store away some supplies underground.
- When it comes to disguising your shelter, creativity must also be balanced by effectiveness of the design. Depending on the neighborhood and the area, you may want something that will blend in and look normal. In other situations, you may want something novel that makes people think of anything but a shelter.
7. Use Smaller Modules Across the Property
When looters and thieves are looking for viable targets, they focus mainly on larger buildings that promise enough material to make it worth breaking in. This is just one of many reasons why you should always break up your stockpile into smaller groups of materials even if you aren’t interested in making your shelter invisible.
In some cases, if thieves find small items “hidden”, they may leave the rest of your stockpile alone.
When building a survival shelter, do not put all your focus on fitting everything into one location, but have two or three different shelters scattered throughout your property.
For example, you might make one small underground bunker, one above ground hidden in brush and brambles, and one in some other location. Even if people spot one, it is not likely they will look for a second and third shelter.
8. Avoid Telltale Signs Like Utility Pipes and Meters
Even if you have lived through a catastrophic hurricane, it can still be hard to believe that a bigger crisis will occur, or that extreme prepping is a matter of paranoia.
There may also be a level of prepping that you won’t go simply because you think the odds of a social collapse that spans decades is a matter of “if” as opposed to “when”. It also means that you may overlook critical things when it comes to concealing your survival shelter.
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You might think that running water in the shelter, electricity, gas, and phone service are very important. While digging a well and placing the pipes underground would be suitable for concealment purposes, you might choose to simply hook up some pipes from your home and extend them into the secondary shelter. If anyone comes to your home, those pipes will be easy to spot and can lead other people right to your hiding place.
Burying those pipes underground may work better, but remember that the water meter outside your house will continue to run. All anyone has to do is see that meter moving to know that someone is living close by.
Power lines with meters attached and other utility wires can also make it easy to track the location of your shelter. Rather than take these chances, find a way to live without power as much as possible, and use communication means that don’t rely on cable or internet access.
Foxhole radios, bullroarers, and many other devices can be used for communications in a time of need. In fact, it would be better to have these systems on hand if more complicated equipment is wiped out as it was in Puerto Rico.
9. Avoid Obvious Pathways To or From the Shelter
As with power lines, obvious pathways worn into the grass or the surrounding area can alert others to the location of your shelter. Even trampling sand or soil can leave signs of packing that will make other people curious enough to investigate. If you are still adding provisions to the shelter, or need to access it on a routine basis, there are some things you can do to avoid the signs of pathways to and from the shelter:
- use vines or ivies across paths instead of grass. The vines can be pushed out of the way easily enough with your foot, and then back into place after you are done working in the shelter.
- For dirt or sand paths, carry a rake with you. Use the rake to loosen up the compaction created by your feet. Do not forget to use the back of the rake to smooth out the lines made by the rake.
- You can also set up stepping stones all over the yard. When you need to get to and from the shelter, step only on the stones. Just make sure that the stones are set randomly enough that a trail isn’t easily visible.
10. Avoid the Shelter When Others are Watching
It’s obvious that you should never enter or exit your shelter when other people are watching. No matter whether you created a liveable “lawn ornament” using an old car frame or some other object, disappearing into it or exiting it will alert anyone watching that something is hidden in the structure.
If your shelter is hidden in the woods, ensure you haven’t been followed to the site. If you can do so without alerting others to your hideaway, install trail cameras around the area. This will help you find out if other people followed you, or if they are nosing around. Conceal the cameras as high off the ground as possible so that they escape detection.
When it comes to concealing your entrance and exit times, don’t rely on night time to cover your activities. Given the availability of night vision gear and cameras, you never really know what kind of surveillance is going on all around you. Visit the shelter in daylight hours, or at times when electronic surveillance devices may have the hardest time picking up on your presence. Experiment with night vision enabled cameras to see when they convert from color to black and white as well as lighting patterns that they may not easily work well in.
Concealing your survival shelter isn’t something you may be able to do as an afterthought. Instead, if you are making plans to build a new shelter, figure out how to build in features that will make it hard to spot by humans, tracking animals, and various kinds of surveillance and detection devices.
Stay up to date on all emerging technologies or tracking methods that might be used to find your survival shelter. Once you know what you are up against, you have a better chance to revise your shelter and ensure that it will stay invisible and safe!
Ken | January 4, 2018
How can i build a hiding plase im crippled an dont have much money ,help
KEVIN s | January 7, 2018
KEN, THERE ARE ALWAYS ALTERNATIVES. cONSIDER A DEBRIS SHELTER. oN yOU tUBE, THERE ARE A GREAT MANY VIDEOS ON THAT SUBJECT, AND MOST ARE EASILY BUILT. i HAVE SERIOUS SPINAL ISSUES, BUT i’VE BUILT SEVERAL, HAVING THEM SCATTERED AROUND MY AREA.
KEVIN s | January 7, 2018
Ken, sorry about the all caps. the sight refuses to let me undo that.
Quacinda Jodyne Topkok | March 22, 2019
Lol, got MY attention.. 😉
Clergylady | February 10, 2019
Hi Kenny. Empty vehicles, piles of brush, a potting shed, anything not too big but big enough to crawl into could be a temporary hiding place. This year I’ve lost most of the use of my dominate right hand and left knee. Hopefully it will change with PT. I couldn’t escape to the mountain above me on foot if my life depended on it.
My plan is lay low. Look somewhat poor and not too interesting. Weapons are scattered about as are stashed food, water, seeds, et. Piles of brush abound from where I’d started cleanup before a steel plate and 7 screws in my arm. My rocket stove heats my home with assorted sticks or pellets. Very little smoke. 12 volt and a manuel winch can supply water from an “unused” well on my property. Chicken are running loose in picturesque pairs since winds tore the top off of their pen. Ducks are still in the pen. Rabbits are in an old cinder block structure so well protecyed. Until they start hiding nests the chickens are all fine. If you need shelter be creative. Play out a scenario that you must hide right now. Figure out how and where for now and a future plan just in case.
John | October 11, 2019
I find it hard to believe that you can build an underground shelter for $400.00 unless you’re going to dig it yourself with a shovel for the next ten years.
Ric | December 27, 2019
I bought that info years ago. It is not worth the cost and dangerous, the plan has only one way in and out, as well as no OPSEC in construction. Look for the $50 and up Underground House Book. Much better plans.
C. Stephens | May 10, 2020
… I think that it could also depend on how large you wanted the shelter to be, and what design you chose. A single long-ish trench, covered over with poles and then topped with dirt and ground cover
can be done fairly quickly… Even with a regular ol’ garden shovel. I suppose it depends on what you are going for.
Clergylady | January 4, 2018
I’m clearing trash trees and brush. That would be a perfect prepping cover for coming and going setting up something. Yard cleaning or making a garden sculpture is a reasonable time to do far more than it looks like you are doing. I live in a small, rural community. Have to think stealthy.
anonymous | January 5, 2018
the round igloo shape to me is very natural in the woods. no angular lines, its round so blends in with trees that have the same shape and project the same shadow, instead of straight lines like the straight lines of a standard home do.
For that reason, the soil filled sandbag construction is what we are contemplating.. Diy methods, little construction materials hauled in and are low cost. “low Cost” usually equals hard labor though.. Fill sandbag with soil in a circle, place barbed wire on top, then add second course of bags, coming in slightly less. repeat until you have an overhead cover.
These bags degrade in sun, but a stucco coat waterproofs and stops the light degradation from occurring good insulation from heat and cold – its worth looking at.
Illini Warrior | January 5, 2018
Natural growing native foliage is the best camo – having plantings of bushes/saplings/vines/ect ect in portable movable containers like buckets or barrel halves is advantageous – move a camo screening into place when necessary ….
Ray | January 5, 2018
why not use sand and gravel with dry cement in your sand bags? When the bags got wet they would set up and be a permeant shelter.
Clergylady | January 5, 2018
a friend has multiple caches. One is big enough to hide in. They dug out a pit 6’6″ deep and 7′ Square. Then they BUilt a small potting shed over most of it. A “roof” over the exposed area had a storage shelf unit so no one would be walking on it. A trap door INside has empty heavy PLASTIc plant pots attatched. You expect a hollow sounding shed floor as it SIts on skids. Dirt is pulled up to the bottom of the walls.
It’s pretty far From the home. A normal work area with lawnmower et inside.
Space has propane camp stove. Food, water, sleeping bags, old metal bunk bed and a folding cot. Dry practicle clothing, hiking boots, med pack, and more. Could be lived in short term or a space to leave from.
My CHOIce would be something up on the mountains. I have tiny CAChes of things scattered far from home. Quick temp shelter AND matches et in a cook pot.
Branches can make a walled IN safe AREA with AN angled roof over your sitting/sleep area. Build a FIre in the enclosure to warm your sleep area and cook. No FRESh wood on the fire to avoid smoke as much as possible. Roundis shape under trees or even partly dug out.
It could be built ahead or when you find a spot. Owning the LANd could be good but locate IT well.
Mic Roland | January 5, 2018
Google Thomas Johnson, Nantucket for a real life example of an underground home. Johnson lived underground for ten years, amid all the expensive mansions and upper-crusty inhabitants. It was small, roughly 8′ by 8′ but it was enough of a studio apartment for Tom for 10 years. There was very little external evidence of his underground home. It was discovered in 1998 by a deer hunter who just happened to be crawling on hands and knees (following a blood trail, perhaps), when he spotted a short section of stove pipe sticking out of the ground.
The Boy Scouts — who owned the land Tom built in — were inclined to let him stay. Tom had become a bit of a local celebrety. But, the local government couldn’t abide by such informality. His hideaway was condemned for not meeting building codes.
It turned out that Tom had a few other camouflaged hideouts on the island. He had a tree house and a hut made — wicker-like — out of saplings and brambles. It, too, was only discovered by accident.
It CAN be done.
Clergylady | January 6, 2018
Awesome! Love hearing those stories.
ERIC MILLER | January 6, 2018
Chimneys and other vents are a problem. Perhaps a hollow tree trunk could be used to place the opening high up. or use a post that has some other use.(nesting box?) Inlet and outlet pipes could be in the same post, but need separating at top.
Armin | January 4, 2019
Pretty good article, Carmela. You’ve given us a lot of good ideas. In a true societal collapse that may last years or even decades, water and power meters are a non issue. I’d be more concerned about people smelling the smoke from our wood fire and tracking us down like that. We’ll have to become quite creative in hiding our stove pipes. And the obvious signs of habitation. Just as one example, we need wood for a wood fire which means cutting down trees. As for the meters giving us away, if everything has gone to heck in a hand basket and we are living under anarchy and chaos for an extended period of time, more than likely we won’t have water and power to worry about. If we still do have even sporadic water and power and we don’t want others to know there may still be someone living in “the house” then just pull the power meter. There’s a security wire crimped onto it so that under normal circumstances the meter can’t be pulled without the service provider being aware of what you’re doing. But under the conditions of a true, extended societal collapse you just cut that wire and pull the meter. I’ve seen it done and it’s VERY simple. As for the water meter, mine is inside. Where I live it’s too cold in the winter to have anything to do with water outside. It would freeze very quickly. If your water meter IS outside just do the same thing under the conditions of a general societal collapse. But this has to be planned beforehand. Pull the water meter and just run a small section of pipe where the water meter used to be and make it look like someone ripped it off the wall. But this may all be a moot point as under the conditions of SHTF we may not have electricity or water for quite some time. But stash the meters away some where as sooner or later order WILL be restored. The thing that worries me more are signs of habitation. Even the path you take every day to the outside privy. No matter how careful you will try and be, there will always be some signs that someone is living near by. Unless you’ve hidden yourself away in a bomb shelter type of underground shelter where you don’t have to come out. But even that has it’s pros and cons. After a while you will WANT to come out. Your food stores will only last so long. Your food stores should really only be used to supplement what food you can harvest topside. Again, no easy answers. Too many variables. The people in the big cities will be the first to be screwed and that will make them very dangerous. I fervently hope I don’t see this come to pass in my lifetime.
FAH | November 8, 2022
An individual I used to know fromCzech republic told of his grandparents hiding their food and valuables in the ground in the horse stalls “where the horses urinated”. When the Nazis invaded.. They lived through it.
Bill in Idaho | January 4, 2019
You do Good Work, Carmela ! Remember the Basics . . . Keep it Simple, Not Complicated. ALWAYS USE Psychological Camoflage – 1. ) Make it look like something it Ain’t; -or- 2.) Make it look like Nothing at All. And for goodness sakes set up a network of “Wireline” phones – Do Not Use RF emitters at All.
Larry | January 5, 2019
Always camouflage the entrance hatch of an underground shelter. There are lightweight artificial “rocks” that can do the job. I never cease to be amazed at so many otherwise expensive underground bunkers that have obvious surface hatches that scream “THERE”S A SHELTER HERE” if someone stumbles across it. Some people like to beat their chests and boast about all the firepower they have to defend their shelters, but it is far better to have a place that no one knows is there, even if they are standing on it!
Ernest | January 11, 2019
2-cents worth – There is a Youtube video showing how to hollow out a huge tree trunk to make a dugout boat. It took them, 3 guys chopping by hand, less than 10 days. The point is to a set time daily and suddenly you are done. Make your own hollow trees. Or get creative and make a cement tree and paint it to look like a hollow tree trunk. This is to help disguise air vents, antennas, and other pop-up stuff. Sandbags filled with dirt and a cement mixture will harden and become like a war pillbox. Then you cover the shelter with inches of good dirt and grow native flowers and plants. How about a briar hedge around it? Caution! If you are extremely concerned to the point of fear today, (false evidence appearing real), you are already in trouble before any tragedy occurs. Fear robs you of logical thinking. Consider hunting a rabbit. Rabbits hide when they hear you coming. To make the rabbit jump and run, you stop walking and be real quiet. The fear in the rabbit makes him start to run and he is dead. Remember that your best is always your best! There is always time for improvements and modifications. Just don’t put off starting today! Hope this sort of rant helps!
rod Clark | June 23, 2019
If you wish to hide an antenna then look at amateur radio websites. For decades ham operators devised stealth antenna installations for every amateur radio band as frequently condominium boards and municipal bylaws tried to prohibit “unsightly” antenna installations. Of course there is less pressure on the hobbyists since we all insisted on unsightly cellular antenna installations to ensure we all had adequate cellular mobile coverage and were not inconvenienced by a channel not being available.
Scott Todd | February 8, 2019
Most of the article was OK but when I got to “Foxhole radios, bullroarers, and many other devices can be used for communications in a time of need” I had to shake my head. Foxhole radios only work with VERY STRONG AM radio signals, and bullroarers- I thought the idea was to make as little noise as possible.
Yosemite | February 10, 2019
She mentioned using the plastic bottles filled with sand the could be used and it seem many ignored or overlooked that. they can easily be filled using a funnel.makes them easy to fill..
Put a layer or a level of them down and cover with dirt and repeat until you each your desired size shape.
Bags of “Read Mix” Cement or Concrete can be THOROUGHLY soaked with water an will harden and can be stacked/layered covered with dirt and repeated.
No one mentioned anything about a toilet either a chem toilet OR a 5 gallon bucket with a seat that uses plastic bags that are sealed and replaced after use…..
A problem not mentioned is that an unknown number of people have low water tables and water will seep into the underground structure and also when it rains there could/ would be more seepage so digging down may not be a very good option.
I suppose one might dig a hole down as far as they with post hole diggers and see if they hit water or dig big/larger hole and and call it a future cooking pit..say to roast a pig on for example.or a trash debris pit or your going to put in a garden or coi fish pond……you can always change your mind……….
Putting in a safe place under the Coi pond would be good camouflage IF the water table allows it……….When the power goes out for good the pump will die and so will the fish due to lack of oxygen and no doubt become a mosquito haven
Just some random thoughts….
BillH | June 23, 2019
Disagree with your concerns about running utilities (power and water) to a hidden survival shelter. Every home uses electricity day and night for hot water headers, chargers, and a multiplicity of other items. Unless the power is turned off at the main panel (in which case your shelter is not going to have power anyway), the meter will be running. As for water, it is unlikely that anyone will look at the water meter just when you are using a little water. You presumably will not be using water constantly.
TheSouthernNationalist | June 23, 2019
I’d go with solar panels and 12 volt equipment from an RV store.
rod Clark | June 23, 2019
RV & Marine stores sell 12 volt microwave ovens & coffeemaker & soup pots. You can get solar panels, chargers & power regulators at princess auto
rod Clark | June 24, 2019
RV & Marine stores sell 12 volt microwave ovens & coffeemaker & soup pots. You can get solar panels, chargers & power regulators at princess auto
Princess auto is a huge Canadian chain of stores and also internet sales
Armin | February 7, 2020
In a true SHTF situation the electrical meter will be the least of our problems, BillH. That is if we still have electricity. And once we’re in the crisis if you are worried about the meter (if we still have electricity) just cut the security tie and yank the meter. Easy to do and you’ll still have electricity but no meter to give you away. If the electrical grid stays down for an extended period then we’ll need some way to heat our homes. Especially in a northern climate. Many may turn to wood to heat their homes. My concern about that is how do we manage the wood smoke so that it can’t be seen or smelled. It’s all very fine and well to have a hidden survival shelter but if others smell our heating or cooking smoke then all our effort is for naught. If scavengers even get a whiff of someone living in “their” area then sooner or later they’ll find that person. Is there some way to disguise our wood smoke so that it can’t be seen or smelled? Maybe bubble it through water? I don’t know. Does anyone have any good ideas about this?
TheSouthernNationalist | June 23, 2019
When I read about the abandoned vehicle it reminded me of that movie “RED” where Marvin had an old car covering the entrance to his underground bunker, awesome.
Jerry D Young | June 24, 2019
Depending on what the shelter is being designed to protect against, there can be many different options. If protection from fallout radiation is not required then the options are almost endless. If radiation protection, and especially if blast protection is needed, then high mass shelters are required, which is much more difficult to do and hide cheaply. However, it can be done under many circumstances.
Here are a few of my thoughts on some of the subjects brought up in the article and the comments.
1) For a very limited budget, especially if a person cannot do very much physically, I would suggest a mobile shelter. Something so the person need not really have to do much building. As it is not going to have to be in use on the streets very much, though it should run okay and have good enough tires to move it from time to time, with fuel that is treated so it will still be good when needed, just about any old vehicle suited to the person’s disability to get in and out and to drive, can be lived in. And with just a bit of easy work it can be made to look not only useless, but possibly dangerous, with no hint of anyone being in it, much less living in it. For radiation protection, survey the area for underground garages, and even above ground garages. If there are any large above ground garages around being at least three levels up, with two or more levels above, and radiation protection is fairly easy to achieve. Drive there and park if the risk of nuclear devices being used is high. If normal things are still going on, adjust the look of the vehicle so it looks more normal, and move it every other day or so.
2) For air intakes and exhausts, generator air intakes and exhausts, cooking air intakes and exhausts, remember that they need not always be single fairly large pipes. They often do not even need to be pipes. Even if they are pipes they do not have to look like pipes. Especially with exhausts, running the main exhaust to a spot and then using a distribution box or other assembly, disperse the exhaust through several smaller pipes to different outlet points. The ends of the pipes do not have to be exposed. Each one can stop inside of something that allows the exhaust to dissipate through something that has no relationship to anything remotely connected to air handling. One could go to a roof gutter downspout, one to a hollow fence post, one to the leg of a swing set, and on and on and on. The air intakes as well. Bring multiple small collection pipes to a combiner point, where the filters are located, along with the same kind of sump drains so nothing that might be poured into any one of the line can get into the shelter. With a shut off on the larger line going into the shelter, the shelter can be isolated for a while if needed. Do the same on all the different air handling assemblies.
Spreading out the exhausts especially will help reduce the likelihood of anyone finding the actual shelter, although they might find one or two of the individual lines. And if the lines are not conventional pipes, they might not even connect it with being a part of a shelter, as long as the air movement is shut down when anyone is around.
3) In relation to the above, the means to know what is going on outside the shelter can be critical to keeping it hidden. If one knows there is someone skulking about, everything can be shut down so no air movement into or out of the shelter can give away the presence of the air handling and therefor the shelter.
4) For long term situations where cooking and open fire inside a shelter might be required and there are other people around, filtering of cooking odors and the odors of smoke from fires may be necessary. Of course, it will be much easier to do if low odor foods are cooked whenever there are not many other odors being produced in the area. And naturally low smoke producing and well seasoned wood should always be what is burned if there are risks from people seeing and smelling the smoke.
To really increase the security, have these functions in one area that can be somewhat sealed off, such as with hanging sheets or plastic, so the cooking and combustion air can come in easily, but the exhaust can all be directed out one point from that area. An activated charcoal filter designed for commercial kitchens can be attached to a collection hood, and the duct run to the distribution box as described above. If natural airflow is not sufficient to create a draft that will pull the air out through the filter, a small blower run off the shelter power system may be needed. They are available for use with 4″, 6″, 8″, and 10″ duct for $40 – $130.
5) The materials for creating or improving a ‘regular’ shelter to add fallout radiation protection can be kept available very easily. Anything and everything that can hold mortar sand in quantity is set up and filled, and then whatever the regular use is, those parts are added. Such as large planter boxes around a home. Not only can they hold a tremendous amount of sand, and the planter pots set in the top, but they are excellent anti-ramming barriers. If planted with thorny plants they can add some security. Or food plants can be grown in the pots. A very large, roofed, children’s sandbox can be built. Instead of a few inches of sand inside, a much deeper hole can be created and filled with sand. The roof keep most water out so the sand will be easy to extract. A scoop type sand bag filler and sandbags kept stored and a large number of sand bags can be ready to stack to add fallout radiation protection very quickly. Other items can be used to store sand, such as large individual planter pots, a flagstone patio, instead of a couple of inches of sand underlayment for the stones, can be a foot or two or more of sand. When needed the stones are removed and the sand scooped into sandbags, which, along with the flagstones, are used to add radiation protection to the shelter area. You really cannot have too much quality sand around a place.
6) Some additional air inlet outlet ideas: Anything that can be installed using pipe as part of the structure can be tapped to let air in or out. Both vertical and horizontal runs of pipe, be it metal, plastic, structural or decorative. Railings around a deck. Wooden columns for supporting porch roofs. Ducts can be built into walls and then extended in the attic to a cupola. The gutter downspouts have already been mentioned. Just be careful that the connections from the air handling system to the other systems are not obvious. For higher volumes, such as for intakes and exhausts for generators, various ‘features’ can be added to the yard that incorporate from small to large groupings of rocks that can be built as rock cribs. The intakes and exhausts can be terminated in the rock cribs, out of sight, but with a large surface area for the air to come in or go out. Keep in mind that if in snow country shelter or generator exhausts exiting into snow cover rock cribs will probably melt the snow, which could be notices.
Instead of solid or smaller diameter fence posts, decorative rock crib posts can but built and intake and exhaust lines terminated within them. Outbuildings can have decorative columns or other features that can incorporate air ducts. Getting intakes and exhausts up high can help make them less likely to be noticed, as long as steam or smoke are not being released. Consider every aspect of the home, yard, garden, outbuildings, fences, and such for use as intake and exhaust points. And disperse everything. Some may need to be slightly less hidden, and used as dummies that people might find, and they would be the ones they would use to try and smoke or burn out a shelter, introduce other dangerous liquids or gasses into a shelter. All of the intakes and exhausts need to have sump drains on them and a cutoff valve between the drain and the shelter just in case a real one is found so anything poured into the line will drain to a sump, and the valve closed as well to keep out any gasses.
7) Caches were mentioned so supplies are not all in one spot, which reduces the risk of losing everything if that single point is found. Also consider having some sacrificial supplies and equipment that people can find. It should not be too easy or obvious, and the items should not be totally useless or the food inedible, but things that would cause a person to think that they have found someone’s major cache. Not too many will think about there being more caches if the one they find is a general cache and not a specialty one with only certain types of items, which implies there are others with other types of materials.
8) If doing a remote shelter that will not have anyone there to keep it secure, consider what I call a remote hunting cabin minimal shelter. This can easily incorporate full fallout protection or simply environmental protection. The key is to make it highly fire resistant and vandal resistant inside and out. Using reinforced concrete blocks or earthbag construction for the radiation protection and fire resistance, all it needs to be is a small, one, two or three room cabin. A dirt, sand, or flagstone floor. Possibly a small Rumford fireplace, although that has some negative aspects. Install bolted down a heavy metal table and benches, a couple sets of two or three tier metal frame wire laced bunkbeds, and a steel counter surface. Possibly some other shelves or cabinets. There could be concrete block benches or bunks with internal access that would not be obvious and would have some type of hidden trick locking mechanism. Frame in a good steel door, but pull the hinge pins and cache the door somewhere not too far away with some other items you will need at the shelter. Hang a piece of less than pristine canvas as the door. A couple of small windows, up pretty high, done the same way. No glass the framework for the glass, just the framed opening and the windows cached elsewhere.
Simple plumbing can be roughed in, such as a 4″ line that leads to a two or three drum septic system so a chemical toilet or bucket toilet (cached) can be emptied into. Some sleeves walls that can be used to bring in pipes and other lines when needed, and insulated boxes installed outside to cover where the lines would come up out of the ground and connected to the appropriate pipes or lines put through the sleeves. This way water, solar or wind power lines, or whatever can be installed very quickly when you take up residence, permanently or temporarily.
Now, since it is almost guaranteed that the place will be used by hunters, druggies, squatters, partiers, homeless, and such, you will need a way to get them out when you arrive. A frontal assault or any type of confrontation is to be avoided. Son incorporate the means to introduce something that will cause anyone inside to come running out so you can deal with them without having to try and go inside to do it.
If there is a fireplace and it is in operation a remotely activated damper near the top of the chimney can be closed to cause the place to fill with smoke. A 3″ or 4″ pipe run inside the cabin to a point some distance away, terminated in an inground box can be used to introduce smoke, some type of irritant, or gagging gas into the cabin to run people out can be used. The point inside the cabin would be hidden and/or camouflaged, of course. An extremely high output siren device with the power leads going to a remote point outside can be hidden inside and powered up from a safe distance to drive people out. It would be difficult to do a hidden system that incorporates one of the strobes that causes nausea and confusion, but it might be possible. Pretty much anything to run them out without putting you at risk. Once they are outside you can deal with them much more effectively. Especially if you have created a ‘safe space’ outside where they would likely congregate, especially in bad weather. Something with simple overhead protection and a bit of a windbreak. Preferably of natural materials, and not too high so people cannot stand fully upright. This will have them in one place, in a very disadvantage stance, even if they did grab weapons before running outside. You should already have plans on what you would do with various different types of people that they could be. Squatters with children are one thing; violent, armed, drug criminals are another. You might give a few humanitarian supplies to the first and drive them off at gunpoint. The second… Well, that is up to you.
There are many other options for shelters. Simply think outside the box and push the envelope a little.
Just my opinion.
Roy n Renée | October 27, 2019
Use many different paths to come and go.
Jefferson NWENGLAND | December 29, 2019
Myself and friends cut sods of grass and laid them in a pyramid sided oval shape about 10 feet by 6 feet wide to about 3 feet high in a patch of bushes.
Then we bent over the tops of the branches and eventually placed more sods on top.
We then dug down inside to create more height.
Replanted a local bush to hide the entrance.
Our fire inside was built as low as possible and came out ground level under a pile of brush and grass. This reduced the smoke dramatically.
We could walk over the top and the structure was virtually invisible
We were disappointed when we saw our den had been fenced off, but amused when we found out that a college had erected the fence ,mistaking it for a historical structure!!
Another easy type was a van, no longer road worthy. Backed into a gulley with small hills on 3 sides. A small shed supported the lifted rear door, then, redirected the exhaust as a chimney.
Removed the fuel tank and used a Gerry tank
Buried most of the van and shed , just leaving the windscreen for daylight and 1 door as a entrance.
Making sure we had carbon monoxide detectors.
The heating system was very welcomed along with 12v lighting.
Cathy | June 23, 2020
On 5/31/2020,I ordered Easy Cellar by Tom Griffith. I haven’t received that order yet. It also had 2 additional books included. How do I contact him to see what the delay is? I would sure like your help in this matter, as I do enjoy your site and would like to refer it to friends. So, please help me. Thank you.
Alex | June 23, 2020
Thank you for your message! One of my colleagues will contact you ASAP in order to see what happened with your order.
Alex from Survivopedia 🙂
Beaner | July 1, 2020
Cathy, I also bought Easy Cellar by Tom Griffith. It was a quick read and pretty easy to understand. I will need to make some modifications on the one he made. I am in the process of drawing up the plans for something more specific to my needs and, I will need to be especially careful of One neighbor who is a little too close to my house and I don’t want him knowing what I am doing. I do live out in the country so that is a huge plus, however, that neighbor????….. It will be labor intensive. No avoiding that. I really wish the book came in hard cover or at least paperback. I had to download my purchase to a pdf file. If/when the SHTF, I’m not too happy about having all these survival pdf files…..good luck!!
Cathy | July 2, 2020
Beaner I thought this information was coming in either a hard or soft cover book. My impression was this would be the case. Also, I don’t remember seeing any notifications of that being sent to my email, so I’m really at a loss. The book I ordered was how to build an unseen survival cellar. Is that the same one you’re referring to? I guess I’ll have to go back and see if anything like that was sent, and hope I didn’t delete it, not realizing what it was. Anyway, thanks so much for your help……I’ll see what I can find.
Dave | February 13, 2021
Always ensure you one way in, but two hidden ways out if possible. These should never be used for everyday activities, but remember to check them from time to time to make sure you can use them, if necessary. Also, have a few plans on how to exfiltrate out of the area, if needed. Once your hideout is discovered…you ‘never’ go back if you are lucky enough to get away. One word of warning…Never bury a shipping container. They have a bad tendency to collapse inward when buried.
red | August 23, 2021
All right, cool! A giant green caterpillar in the woods. When fall hits, I hope it changes color. Sorry, I’m in a good mood and someone needs to suffer. Water- and acid proof it and plants it with weeds. Make it fit! At least plants wild grape vines over it. That’s food. Ivy is toxic. It states people are here, or once were.
So-called Hobbit homes are popular down through the ages. Poplar grows fast enough to make a living house. Hybrid poplar grows very fast. Iron rings would be set in place for windows. Bars to hold back growth for doors. All metal would eventually be overgrown, and make it very hard to cut the place open. The roof would be branches interwoven. A central chimney went up into the brushy top. There were pictures, some with 2 stories that once were out there. There were places in the Eastern US that Indians used grown from cedar, as well.
Multiple units mean someone is going to take one for themselves. I live in a small desert town that has a lot of homes for sale, but most here are getting ready. We’re a lot of miles from the nearest large town, and on a back road, albeit a state route. If there is a wanderung, most would head west, not north or south. Locals tend to not be neighborly toward problem people.
Always but always be a neighbor when visiting your bugout location. Be a ‘hand, but not a patsy.
Anne Welch | August 24, 2021
I read that many people who moved west built sod houses. They were cool in the summer and warm in winter. The floor was packed dirt, and the homes had one door with a chimney for the smoke. Remember they used buffalo chips for the fire, because wood was scarce. It burned long and slow so it lasted awhile.
If anyone remembers watching Hogan’s Heroes, they hide one of their entrances in a tree stump. And the antenna rose from the roof. Still love that show.
Rick H | October 21, 2021
My biggest concern is disposal of all the bodies of people who come within 1 mile of any of my hides. I do have a couple of mine shafts that are vertical and of great depth that I have hidden buried bags of quick lime near by. All choke points within 600 yards have been ranged for all of my long guns.