Preparing Your Home for a Nuclear Attack

"Oh my god. Don't go outside" GIF
Yeah, that’s pretty much the vibe.

We don’t have much of a say of where we are when a nuclear attack happens, but I hope I’ll be at home, behind many layers of concrete and sitting under a plush comforter with my cat. You’ll need to stay in the shelter you’re in for at least one day after the event, and it’s safest to stay put as long as you can, while the radiation dissipates. If you’re lucky enough to get caught at home, make sure your home is up to the task of keeping you safe.

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1. Stock up on water and packaged food

canned food for preparing your home for a nuclear attack

We love you, food. You make us better people.

Nuclear fallout contaminates everything outdoors, including crops in the field and sources of drinking water like reservoirs and rivers. Getting clean food and water after a nuclear explosion might be very difficult. Try to have three or more weeks of bottled water for each person. If the water is stored inside and packaged, it should remain safe to drink.

You should also have a few weeks of packaged food for each person. The food system may be drastically disrupted, so your stored food could be a lifesaver. Everything outside is affected by the fallout, which means even the livestock are contaminated… if they survive. Avoid eating radioactive cheese; stock up on packaged foods now:

Keep your emergency food in your home’s best shelter location. If you have space, make sure that area has items to make your entire family comfortable for a few weeks. Folding chairs, a gravity-powered light, books, pillows, eye masks, ear plugs, and extra blankets might help keep the peace as cabin fever sets in.

alcohol bottles
A few bottles might help keep the peace as well. Just remember to stay hydrated.

2. Prevent radiation damage

The more you can button up your house, the less radiation risk you’ll have.

  • Make sure your windows and doors can be sealed. Standard plastic sheeting (or even duct tape)  can be used to cover up doors and windows to reduce your exposure to contaminated air after the blast
  • Ensure that there are no shaky walls or fixtures which will easily come off during a blast, these items might fall during a nuclear attack and cause accidental damage. 
  • Install thick, heavy curtains that can prevent shards of glass from flying into your house if the windows get shattered due to a nuclear attack. Covering your windows will also reduce your chance of radiation exposure.
  • Trim your trees annually and remove anything else that could fall on your roof during a disaster.
  • Line your safe room with lead, sandbags, or cinder blocks to decrease radiation exposure. The thicker your walls, the safer you will be.
  • Install HEPA filters on all points in your HVAC system. You’ll keep your HVAC system turned off for the first day, but if your safe room is small, you may need to turn it on to ensure you have enough air to breathe.
  • Paint your house white to make sure it stays cool even amidst all the heat released by a nuclear attack. That’s the albedo effect, kids!
Rule of Thumb

If you’re bored while you’re waiting for the danger to pass, fashion your empty food cans into armor for the upcoming apocalyptic melee.

3. Install a Bunker

If you’re super serious about making your home a safe space, you might want to install a purpose-built bunker. You could build your own or hire a team to build and stock one for you. The sky’s the limit! Luxury bunkers await you so you can ride out the end of the world in style.

If reading this guide has made you more nervous rather than less nervous, a bunker may be the right choice. While costly, they can improve the resale value of your home and might put your mind at ease. They’re a great option to keep your living space free of emergency clutter.

So what do we do once we’re in the bunker?

underground bunker for Preparing Your Home for a Nuclear Attack
Right this way to my DIY bunker. Watch your head.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.