Anyone ever lived in a house with a fallout shelter?

I always thought it would be badass to have a fallout shelter in the backyard. Not because I fear nuclear war, but because it would be a unique piece of American history. If I had one, I’d make a project of finishing it, putting in carpets and paneling and making it a sweet place to hang out. That would be hip as hell.

Has any Doper ever had a fallout shelter? If so, was it already on the premises of a house that you moved into, or were you actually old enough to have had your parents install it as a kid? How was it - was it nice and comfortable, or was it dark and dreary? Did you ever use it for anything?

I never had one, but I want one, damnit.

Serious, I’d put one in my back yard just for the fact of having it to say I did.

Brendon Small

We had one in the basement of this house when we moved in. It was about the size of a large walk-in closet, two sides formed by the basement walls, two sides of concrete blocks, with a sheet of plywood for a ceiling. It had a light, and the main water line through the house ran through it, so we could have tapped into that in case the Commies attacked.

It was dark and dreary, we stored old stuff in it and finally tore it out when we remodeled the basement.

No glamor at all. sorry.

We had one in the house in Kansas City where I grew up (I’m 25). The house was designed right around the time of the Cuban missile crisis, and my parents bought it in the early '90s.

It was a big echoey concrete room. Probably 20’x30’. It was underneath the garage slab. The coolest thing about it was the entrance. It was just a regular-looking (albeit metal) door on a perfectly innocent-looking wall in the basement. But you found, upon opening it, that it was really heavy. You walk through the door and are immediatly confronted by a wall. There is actually a “hallway” that doubles back on itself three times. There are about 20 bottles of drinking water in the corner of the bomb shelter (as we called it), and the style on the labels suggests that they’re from the '60s. There is a drain on the floor in the center of the room. Hilariously, there are two 2" pipes opening into the room on the wall under the garage door, and if you go outside the house, you will find that these pipes terminate in upside-down u-bends. I guess the theory is that radiation can’t travel up the pipe, so your ventilation source is safe.

The best use for the room was impressing guests. Especially your sisters’ friends, because the light switch was right outside the door. For optimal effect, wait until they’ve had a chance to go around all three bends in the entrance hallway before flipping the switch and slamming the metal door. It’s worth the scolding from mom every time.

My great-grandfather built a fall out shelter in the woods behind his house. IIRC, it was a good 20 minute hike from their house. It was a sturdy concrete structure tucked into a little hollow and partially dug into the hill. I don’t know what the point of that was *supposed *to be, but it was wallpapered with pinup girls, so draw your own conclusions. :stuck_out_tongue:

Not my house, but the neighbors up the street put one in. I think it was early 1960. They had a big ol’ hole dug in their small suburban front yard and sank a fiberglass (?) shell that looked like a giant capsule - rounded on both ends. It was really cool for us kids to watch the proceedings during the construction phase. Later (of course!) we snuck down there to play. The only really interesting things (to me) were the ladder and the air supply pipes - everything else down there just looked like camping.

I was particularly concerned with the external supply pipes, which seemed inconsistent with my knowledge of nuclear fallout; I remember asking my Dad if the air coming in wouldn’t be contaminated with radiation. He said that it would. His response to my quizzical look was “Some people prefer to die slowly”.

I haven’t, but I have friends who live in a house with one. It is accessed through a room in their basement.

They had it made into a sauna.

No, seriously.

By best friend’s dad built one in their basement that was similar to the one that kunilou described. I figured that it would be good against an initial blast, (it was on the wall that would have been most sheltered if The Bomb hit Detroit or Pontiac), but it really had no serious way to defeat subsequent radiation issues. Within a year, it was a pantry. (I don’t even recall him getting a door hung in the entrance, so I am not sure how serious he was about the project, although I remember seeing the plans and they were definitely intended as a bomb shelter.)

Shortly after that, our next door neighbor had one similar to that described by Dr. Woo buried in his back yard with one end up against the basement wall where a doorway was cut through the poured concrete so that the only access was from the basement. It was much smaller than a typical RV, today, and they had five kids. My younger brother came home, wide-eyed, saying that Mr. Z had showed several kids in the neighborhood his shotgun and informed them that he was not going to let anyone but his family into the shelter if The Bomb came. My Mom reassured my brother with, “If the Zs are going the only other people to survive The Bomb, I’d just as soon get vaporized, anyway.” (The Zs were that sort of people.)

We had one similar to the place Randy Seltzer describes. Steel door, thick concrete walls and supplied with several barrels of water, a wall full of 5 gallon buckets of food, wind-up radio etc. It was behind the main garage, built into the hillside. My father recently passed away and it was odd to go digging through all this stuff… the food was most likely not “food” anymore as it was all from the 70s.

Back when I lived in Hamburg, I had a WWII above-ground air raid shelter (“Hochbunker”) for a neighbour.

Cleverly painted to match the row of houses it was part of, it was a rectangular, windowless structure, roughly 5 stories high, with 6 feet thick concrete walls. The interior took the form of a helix-like tunnel, a bit like a parking structure. At the time, it was being put to use as a furniture warehouse, and attempts had been made to carpet and panel, but you could still see the attachments for the bench seats that would’ve lined the walls, and the ventilation system was pretty much like the original. Imagining people huddled up in there as the building shook wasn’t hard at all. (Incidentally, thousands of people perished in structures just like it. You can build to withstand bombs, but firestorms are another matter. The bombing of Hamburg was aptly codenamed “Operation Gomorra”.)

The city didn’t exactly like having dozens of these reminders of very bad times around, but demolishing them turned out to be completely impractical - a few attempts only had the effect of turning a concrete eyesore into a structurally unsound and dangerous eyesore. So people paint them over, try to find uses for them, and otherwise turn a blind eye.