In Time of Emergency eBook

Office of Civil Defense
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 73 pages of information about In Time of Emergency.

First, get access to the crawl space through the floor or through the outside foundation wall. (A trapdoor or other entry could be made now, before an emergency occurs.)

As the location for your shelter, select a crawl-space area that is under the center of the house, as far away from the outside foundation walls as possible.

Around the selected shelter area, place shielding material—­ preferably bricks or blocks, or containers filled with sand or earth—­from the ground level up to the first floor of the house, so that the shielding material forms the “walls” of your shelter area.  On the floor above, place other shielding material to form a “roof” for the shelter area.

If time permits, dig out more earth and make the shelter area deeper, so you can stand erect or at least sit up in it.


If your home has no basement, no storm cellar and no protected crawl space, here are two ways of improvising fallout protection in your yard: 

* Dig an L-shaped trench, about 4 feet deep and 3 feet wide.  One side of the L, which will be the shelter area, should be long enough to accommodate all family members.  The other side of the L can be shorter, since its purpose is to serve as an entrance-way and to reduce the amount of radiation getting into the shelter area.

Cover the entire trench with lumber (or with house doors that have been taken off their hinges), except for about 2 feet on the short side of the L, to provide access and ventilation.

On top of the lumber or doors, pile earth 1 to 2 feet high, or cover them with other shielding material.

If necessary, support or “shore up” the walls of the trench, as well as the lumber or doors, so they will not collapse.

* Dig a shallow ditch, 6 inches deep and 6 inches wide, parallel to and 4 feet from the outside wall of your house.

Remove the heaviest doors from the house.  Place the bottoms of the doors in the ditch (so they won’t slip), and lean the doors against the wall of the house.

On the doors, pile 12 to 18 inches of earth or sand.  Stack or pile other shielding material at the sides of the doors, and also on the other side of the house wall (to protect you against radiation coming from that direction).

If possible, make the shelter area deeper by digging out more earth inside it.  Also dig some other shallow ditches, to allow rain water to drain away.


If your home has no basement or storm cellar (and no crawl space that is surrounded by foundation walls up to the first floor), you can get some limited fallout protection by improvising a fallout shelter on the first or ground floor of your house.  However, this type of shelter probably would not give you nearly as much protection as the other types of improvised shelters described in this chapter.

Project Gutenberg
In Time of Emergency from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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