One idea which has gained a lot of popularity in the prepping community is to build a bunker. While few of us can actually afford this, many more aspire to being able to do so some day, even if they can’t do it right now. But is that something that you should be trying to do?
The idea of bunkers actually goes back to the middle ages, when caves under castles were used as someplace for the women and children to hide while the battle raged above. There was also usually a safe room somewhere in the keep, for the royal family to retreat to. In both cases, well-designed castles would also have some sort of secret escape route for those in either the safe room or the bunker, should the battle turn for the worst.
In more recent times, bunkers have become more sophisticated and have been used in modern warfare as a protection from artillery shells and bombs. The main design factor in these bunkers was the ability to provide adequate overhead cover to protect those inside from the explosions.
But that’s not what bunkers are being built for today, at least not in the prepping and survival community. Those are being built with the idea of protecting from social unrest; the idea being to have someplace where the ravaging mob can’t get to you. People are planning on locking themselves in, with their supplies and their families, perhaps for months; while they wait out the storm.
While I have no doubt that we will see more social unrest in the future, I’m not sure that a bunker is the ideal place to be in such a situation. All of the bunkers I’ve seen are traps. While they might be able to keep people out, they also tend to lock the inhabitants in.
Usually when I mention that, the response I get is that there’s an escape tunnel. Then when I look at it, I see the escape tunnel comes out no more than 50 feet from the bunker itself. So, anyone coming out of it is going to be within plain sight of the people who have put the bunker under siege. Even “hiding” that escape hatch in the bush isn’t going to help, as anyone would know to look for it.
So, the key to defending a bunker is counting on them not bringing any tools that would allow them to break in and then just waiting them out. That sounds a bit nerve wracking to me, but it is better than fighting them and possibly losing.
Just hope that whoever comes to attack your bunker doesn’t think of smoking you out. All it would take is some sort of hose, big enough to go over their vehicle’s exhaust, and they could pump that exhaust directly into your air intake, killing you while you’re sitting there supposedly safe.
That’s the big problem with bunkers. There are ways around it, such as putting in a longer escape tunnel and finding a way of hiding your air intake or making it inaccessible; but if you’re going to build one, take the time to think these things through as well.
One other thing I’d like to mention is that the idea of burying a shipping container for use as a bunker is a rotten idea. Those shipping containers are only strong at the ends. The overburden of backfilling earth over the top and down the sides can be enough to crush the container. If that isn’t, then a vehicle driving over it definitely would crush it. You’re better off building something out of cement block, with concrete floor and roof. That would be much stronger, although a bit more costly to build.