Letter Re: Underground Storm/Fallout/Vault Shelters

You know we respect you. You’re at the top of the survivalist food chain because of your relevant knowledge and for your impeccable integrity. Those qualities draw respectful, serious readers to SurvivalBlog, and their contributions, in turn, to the cause of preparedness and your blog’s content are first rate as well.

Needless to say, we’re very pleased that Safecastle is associated with you and can help sponsor the work you’re doing for the folks of this nation.

You know that Safecastle is all about crisis preparedness. For most folks, they know us by our Buyers Club (that club ad is prominently displayed on your blog site). We try to find and offer most any quality product our customers need in the way of preps at the lowest margins possible. The bottom line though in my book, is that any preparation people can put in place has to be a good thing. In fact, I believe simply developing the attitude of wanting to be prepared gets a person more mileage than just about any other step they can take in that direction.

Anyway, there has been some recent dialog here about various methods of constructing storm and fallout shelters. Shelters and civil defense are my greatest passions. I suppose that goes back to my days as a point-blank Cold Warrior when the need for such threat protection was more globally recognized than it is today.

As the proprietor of Safecastle Shelters, I feel a need to try to correct a few impressions that some may have drawn by comments posted here. I’ll keep it brief and focused on our products, since I did already comment about the idea for using shipping containers as the basis for a shelter.

1. Safecastle’s shelter business consists of custom fabricating steel-plate Storm Shelters, Fallout Shelters, and Safe Rooms. They are all engineered to withstand winds of 330 mph. Our builder has installed something on the order of 500 shelters and saferooms all over the USA in the last 15 years, to include about 100 for FEMA.

2. Our primary business these days is in Fallout Shelters. In fact, right now, we are busier than we have ever seen the business. I suppose you can reach your own conclusions about why that might be. Suffice it to say, we are seeing more and more shelters being built by some knowledgeable, wealthy and/or powerful folks.

3. Our Fallout Shelters are installed underground 99% of the time. (Yes, we can berm up adequate shielding over an above-ground shelter if need be). We can even install below the water table–though we prefer not to. Our shelters are fully double welded and double seal coated to create a structure that is impervious to moisture penetration. The use of magnesium anodes greatly extends the life of the shelters, significantly reducing the natural pace of corrosion on the outside surfaces. Simply put, our shelters are dry as a bone inside. (In a few rare instances, there is the possibility of condensation forming on the underside of the hatch if that hatch is exposed to the elements and the sun, and we do have a fix for that.) No sump pump is ever needed due to groundwater penetration.

4. Our shelters are designed by state-certified structural engineers to last 90 years in most environments. We offer a lifetime warranty on workmanship and structural integrity.

5. A comment or two on the use of cylindrical steel culvert for shelters: They are very strong and an excellent basis for DIY sheltering. They are engineered for subterranean forces. But if you are doing it yourself, be careful when cutting and welding in that enclosed environment. Be sure your area is well-ventilated as you work. Also, for commercially available culvert-based shelters, they are normally high-margin products for the seller. In other words, be sure to comparison shop. (Hint, hint). A big obvious point to consider is the amount of usable living space in a cylinder as opposed to a six-sided structure.

6. We’re coming out with a new brochure in the next week or so along with a few new offerings and features, to include a standard-sized, above-ground storm shelter that we can offer on a lease-to-own basis. We also now are offering a drive-in storm shelter for those who want to protect their vehicles, and safety-glass windows for those who want to watch Dorothy, Toto, and the Wicked Witch fly by from the comfort and safety of their well-anchored shelter.

Jim, one more thing … I might as well use this opportunity to politely differ with one of your main premises about everyone aiming to move to Montana or Idaho to escape coming dark days. You have clearly stated that such an event is only a possibility, and I agree with that. Still, I would go so far as to point out that different measures are appropriate for different people. Preparedness can be done seriously and very well wherever folks find themselves. And wherever folks find themselves, they can always do something more or better to improve their survivability for endless potential scenarios.

The real objective should be personal peace of mind. That should always be attainable. The apocalypse may never get here while we are still around, so to simply be ready, satisfied, and optimistic should be a nice consolation. 😉

Keep up the great work! – Vic

JWR Replies: I didn’t mean to denigrate all underground shelters. I have seen many marginal designs over the years that have leaked, especially in areas with high water tables. Many of the commercial in-home “vaults” and “shelters” are little more than beefed-up traditional basements. And those are the ones that typically leak.

I noticed that the Utah Shelter pricing is higher than yours per cubic foot. I consider your shelters superior in most respects to theirs, including more efficient use of space, versus a cylindrical pipe. (Cylinders are inherently inefficient for shelving, storage, and bed space.)