Worst case scenarios are tough for many people to think about, but fallout shelters are exactly that. Despite the end of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war remains real. How much protection can a fallout shelter actually provide, and how can you build your own? Find out for yourself by taking this quiz.
Along with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of the Soviet Union marked the end of an era marked by fear and paranoia.
Cold War emotions were strong during the Kennedy era, with such events as the Cuban Missile Crisis ratcheting up fears of nuclear war.
Despite attempts to reduce the nuclear arsenals of the world's superpowers, serious reduction had yet to occur. Russia had about 20,000 nuclear warheads to 9,938 for the U.S.
That area would be completely wiped out, but people in an even larger area, up to 5 miles away, would be subject to third-degree burns.
If a building were built out of concrete or metal and were designed to withstand that much pressure, it might survive such a blast. Particularly the underground portion of the building might have a decent chance of survival.
Alpha and beta particles can barely penetrate anything solid. Gamma rays, on the other hand, are energetic photons that can penetrate even heavy metals.
Beta particles can't penetrate solids as light as plastic. Thus, fallout shelters would be likely to prevent direct damage from this type of radiation, unless they are inhaled.
The earth particles are charged with radiation and as they fall they deliver that radiation. Too much exposure can be deadly.
The Protection Factor number describes the ratio of the amount of radiation outside the shelter to that inside the shelter.
At PF 40, a person inside the shelter would be exposed to only two-and-a-half percent of the radiation that someone outside would be.
The three inverted triangles seem to resemble things falling from the sky. It is not to be confused with the symbol for general radiation, which is the circle split into thirds described here.
According to FEMA regulations, each person needs at least 10 square feet of space, and 6 and a half feet overhead.
Much of the radiation may dissipate sooner, but two weeks is the recommended safe bet.
Humans can survive for two weeks on very little food. But drinking water is essential.
In this homemade fallout shelter, you dig a trench in the ground, cover the top with poles and tarps, then pile earth on top of the tarps.