Pros and Cons of an Underground Bunker

Prepping has become a favorite pastime for many people, partly due to the ease of staying informed about global disasters. Apps now provide real-time updates on earthquakes, volcano activity, and news from around the world, making people more aware of potential catastrophes. T

his heightened awareness encourages individuals to prepare themselves and their families for possible emergencies. One popular preparation method among survivalists is the construction of underground bunkers, also known as fallout shelters or bomb shelters, designed to provide safety during dangerous situations like nuclear fallout, storms, or other threats.

An underground bunker is a fortified structure built below the surface to offer protection from various dangers. These shelters can be made from materials such as steel, concrete, or repurposed shipping containers. Underground bunkers, including those made from shipping containers, are designed to withstand significant external forces, including the pressure of the earth around them.

These structures are equipped with essential features like reinforced walls, air filtration systems, water storage, food supplies, and power sources to ensure long-term survivability. Modern bunkers often include sanitation facilities, sleeping quarters, communication systems, and entertainment options to maintain physical and mental well-being during extended stays.

Time-Induced Deterioration


When considering the construction of an underground bunker, it’s essential to weigh the numerous advantages these shelters offer. Designed to provide unparalleled protection against a variety of threats, underground bunkers are fortified structures that can significantly increase your chances of survival in catastrophic events. From natural disasters to man-made threats, these shelters are equipped to handle a range of emergencies.

Here are some of the key benefits of having an underground bunker:

  • Higher chance of survival – Because a secure location with solid walls is protection against flying objects, nuclear fallout, and potentially marauders, it increases the chance of survival if it is properly installed and sealed.
  • An easily accessible place of safety- Rather than having to go across town to get to a safe place, having a bunker under the back yard is convenient and easy to get to.
  • Protection from storms – The solid walls and layer of earth will keep winds, rain, and flying debris from being as devastating to the people of the household, regardless what happens to the other structures on the property.
  • Protection from fire – Dirt and steel, concrete, or pipes are flame resistant (generally even fireproof), which means it can be a safe place to wait out a wildfire, if set up properly.
  • Privacy – Unlike a public shelter, where one is joined by strangers, a personal bunker will usually house only the family that owns it. Anyone else joining the family is likely to be a close friend or neighbor who has been invited to do so.
  • Storage – The bunker is an excellent place to store supplies that would be needed in the case of a catastrophe, regardless whether or not the shelter itself becomes required. Food, water, first aid, and other supplies can be stored indefinitely inside the bunker. Remember to check stock regularly to use the oldest and replace with new, so the oldest items will not become too old to be usable.
  • Stress relief – Knowing that the shelter and the supplies that have been placed inside are available if they are needed can remove a lot of stress from the household. Even if something dangerous seems imminent, being prepared can ease one’s mind.
  • Cylinder shape – Choosing an underground bunker that has a rounded shape is safer than a squared shape. With a rounded shape, the surrounding dirt will be better supported. This will allow more surrounding dirt to protect the shelter without crushing it.
  • Insulation – The extra dirt around the shelter will help keep the interior a steadier temperature; easier to heat and cool as needed due to the insulative properties of the earth.


While underground bunkers offer significant advantages in terms of protection and survival, it’s important to also consider the potential drawbacks. These shelters, while robust and secure, come with their own set of challenges and limitations.

From issues related to accessibility and ventilation to psychological impacts and structural concerns, understanding these cons is crucial for anyone contemplating bunker construction. In this section, we delve into the potential disadvantages of underground bunkers, providing a balanced perspective on what it truly means to rely on such a shelter during emergencies.

  • Single entrance/exit – Unless the shelter is built with a back door, the hugest weakness of an underground shelter is the lack of an extra exit. If the entrance becomes blocked, the lack of another way out can be much more dangerous than whatever one is sheltering to escape.
  • Ventilation – Because oxygen is required, a sealed underground shelter must have some sort of ventilation. This is necessary, but not always easy to accomplish.
  • Water – Storing water for emergencies is great, but if the shelter is needed for an extended time, having no way to get more water will be a detriment.
  • Light – There is no natural light underground. Unless there is some way to get light from outside, the lack of light can make day and night get confused and cause other problems such as seasonal affective disorder or depression if an extended stay is required. Leaving the shelter regularly can help with this, if it is possible.
  • Flooding potential – Because it is underground, the potential of flooding is somewhat higher, especially if it dips below sea level or the level of the local water table. There have been several cases of people sheltering underground and the shelter flooding with them trapped inside, resulting in their demise.
  • Vulnerable entryway – In the case of danger from human attackers, such as in a war or riot situation, the entry of a shelter can be very difficult to shore up in a way that it cannot be breached.
  • Less defensible – Having the low ground gives shelter inhabitants an inferior position in the case of battle. It is always more difficult to defend against someone above.
  • Mold – Mold loves dark, moist locations. These conditions are quite common in the underground, and it would be difficult to ensure that the inside of a bunker was warm and dry enough to resist mold and mildew.
  • Cave-in – If the shelter is not properly supported, it could collapse. This is not a common situation, but it can happen.
  • Fire risk – In some shelters, the interior is framed out with wood and drywall. This and some of the common supplies are flammable, so there is a chance they could catch fire.
  • Staying warm – However, underground tends to be cooler, so heating the shelter is likely to be needed if it is used in the wintertime, especially. Lighting a fire is unwise, both because of the fire risk and because fire consumes oxygen, which is already limited, even with proper ventilation.
  • Waste disposal – Like the title of the popular children’s book, “Everybody Poops.” This is not something that must be considered very often normally, since every house has a bathroom with a flushing toilet, but in the case of an underground bunker, something has to be done with it, and few bunkers are outfitted with flushing toilets.
  • Mental health – With the lack of daylight and potential claustrophobia, some people may not be able to handle being underground for long, if at all.
  • Cube shape – Some have suggested burying shipping containers for underground bunkers. This is not a wise plan. Shipping containers are built to be stacked on top of each other and are not meant to have pressure on the sides. Burying one of these will put the pressure of the earth around the container on all sides, which could result in the sides of the container buckling.
  • Expansion – Getting a bunker underground requires digging. Because of this, it can be difficult to expand at all, if it is possible at all. Therefore, whatever size is installed is probably all that will ever be there.
  • Potential of debris damage en route – Having to go outside to get to the bunker means going into the dangerous environment from which the household is planning to safeguard. Environmental dangers can cause injury in the time required to get from the house to the bunker and inside.

family safely inside a pre built bunker with visible comforts and supplies

Essential Features of Underground Survival Bunkers

Here are 20 most common features and functions of underground survival bunkers, highlighting how each component contributes to a comprehensive and resilient survival strategy.

  • Reinforced Walls and Ceiling: Typically constructed with concrete or steel to withstand external forces.
  • Air Filtration System: Ensures a supply of clean, breathable air, often including HEPA filters and nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) filtration.
  • Water Supply: Includes storage tanks, purification systems, and sometimes a well for a sustainable water source.
  • Food Storage: Long-term storage for non-perishable food items, often including freeze-dried or canned goods.
  • Power Supply: Backup generators, solar panels, or wind turbines to provide electricity.
  • Ventilation System: Ensures proper air circulation and removal of stale air.
  • Sanitation Facilities: Toilets, showers, and sinks, often connected to a septic system or composting toilets.
  • Sleeping Quarters: Bunk beds or other compact sleeping arrangements for occupants.
  • Communication Systems: Radios, satellite phones, or other devices to maintain contact with the outside world.
  • Security Features: Reinforced doors, surveillance cameras, and alarm systems to protect against intruders.
  • Medical Supplies: First aid kits and sometimes more advanced medical equipment and medications.
  • Living Area: Space for socializing, dining, and general living activities.
  • Kitchen: Equipped with basic cooking appliances, utensils, and sometimes a stove or microwave.
  • Climate Control: Heating and cooling systems to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Storage Space: Additional storage for personal belongings, tools, and other necessary items.
  • Fuel Storage: Tanks for storing fuel for generators and other equipment.
  • Emergency Exits: Additional exits to ensure a safe evacuation if the primary entrance is blocked.
  • Hydroponic Gardens: For growing fresh produce indoors, providing a renewable food source.
  • Exercise Equipment: To maintain physical fitness during extended stays.
  • Entertainment Systems: Books, games, televisions, and other forms of entertainment to keep morale high.

Underground bunkers provide a comprehensive survival strategy, ensuring safety and resilience in various emergency situations. By considering the pros and cons and incorporating essential features, these shelters can offer peace of mind and practical protection.