Fallout Shelter Needs List

The days are past when the Cold War threatened imminent nuclear destruction, but that's no reason not to be prepared. If you are worried for the safety of you and your family, you can build a fallout shelter to survive a nuclear or dirty bomb attack. You will need to stock your shelter with the essentials. Space in a fallout shelter will be at a premium, but there are still things you can't do without.

Radioactive hazard logos adorn many shelters.

Food and Water

Tinned food is essential.

You'll need between 1 and 2 gallons of water, per person, per day. While you might not need to stay in the shelter for more than four or five days, some scenarios involve sheltering for as long as 30 days. Buy large jugs of water or line new garbage bins with bags and fill them from the garden hose. Remember to rotate the water regularly. Stock your fallout shelter with food in tinned form such as beans and fruit, but also add dry goods such as rice and beans. Consider getting some military MREs (meals ready to eat). The key is to provide energy and sustenance for as long as possible in an efficient and compact form. Also, add comfort food such as coffee and hard candy and basics such as salt, pepper and sugar. Finally, don't forget a nonelectric tin opener.

Anti-Radiation Medicine

Pills can provide sustenance.

A fallout shelter requires remedies for exposure to dangerous radioactive material. Bring potassium iodide or potassium lodate tablets for taking immediately after exposure to fallout. Also bring a tincture made from iodine or Betadine to be rubbed on the body. Use only when tablets cannot be taken.


Have trash cans in your shelter.

Your fallout shelter should be stocked with 5-gallon bins or a portable toilet for bodily waste, and trash bags to dispose of bodily waste and trash. Also bring bleach for cleaning and sterilization.

First-Aid Materials

Have two first-aid kits.

Bring two first-aid kits into your fallout shelter: one for the shelter itself and one for your car. A first-aid kit should include bandages, medical pads, hypoallergenic tape, splints and safety pins. It should also have painkillers, digestive and laxative aids, eye wash, rubbing alcohol and an antiseptic. Tools should include tweezers, a safety razor, scissors, a thermometer, gloves, soap, lubricant, tongue depressors and safety glasses.

Tools and Supplies

Don't forget basic tools.

Your fallout shelter needs a torch, a battery-operated radio, fire extinguisher and a whistle. You should pack a city map, storage containers, and plastic sheeting. You'll also need supplies for eating and personal hygiene. Finally consider a wrench for turning off household services such as gas.

Clothing and Bedding

Blankets will be needed.

Each person will need at least one change of clothing, and a blanket or sleeping bag. They should have sturdy shoes and sunglasses, rain gear, and thermal underwear.

Nick Grimes

Nick Grimes was first published in 1998. Since then his work has appeared in the New Zealand Listener, Evening Post, City Voice, Turbine, Flicks.co.nz, and Gamesradar. He has a master's degree in creative writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington, New Zealand.