In a survival situation, your primary requirements are food, water and shelter. These are the most essential elements of living alone, regardless of the SHTF scenario you find yourself in.
Of course, there is something to be said for what you may consider “nonessential” survival concerns. In most cases, you won’t know how long you’ll have to hide out during a SHTF scenario. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to make a few potentially crucial additions to your shelter now so that you’ll be that much happier if/when disaster strikes.
If you want to do more than survive, but thrive, be sure to include these useful additions you may not have considered.
1. Music and Other Sounds
Whether you live in a city or the middle of nowhere, your day is likely full of both loud and quiet sounds. After some time, you may even fail to notice the rustling leaves and honking horns.
That said, they’re very much there, and when you escape to your bunker, you might come to miss them. In an underground shelter you only have the sound of your own voice, and the silence will be deafening.
Of course, you want to keep your head. If anything’s going to kill you, it shouldn’t be silence. Fill your bunker with music and other sounds to recreate your home above ground. Go retro with a turntable and a collection of old albums, or set up some speakers throughout your shelter.
As time goes by, you might even switch from listening to your favorite rock band to chilling out to the sounds of a babbling brook or the ocean. White noise and nature soundtracks can also foster a sense of normalcy, even if nature is 15 meters above you and you haven’t heard real birds in weeks.
Humanity has yet to accurately predict the end of the world so, unfortunately, you won’t know when or why you’ll need to crawl into your survival shelter. However, depending on the situation, there will surely be people still alive and well in other parts of the world.
You’ll want to connect with friends and family to make sure they’re all right while you’re hunkered down. Therefore, it’s crucial that you have some form of technology to communicate with them.
Bring a phone, radio, laptop or another similar device that will still receive a signal within the four walls of your shelter. Stock up on chargers, extra batteries and protective cases to ensure your devices last.
You can also use this technology to watch movies, listen to music and entertain yourself if you can’t get a signal. In this case, you’ll be able to comfort yourself and kill some time until it’s safe enough to emerge.
You’ll surely have some sort of ventilation system to ensure proper airflow if your shelter is underground. You can even improve air quality, absorb carbon dioxide and boost oxygen levels by adding a few plants to your bunker. Orchids, succulents and snake plants release oxygen at night, which can help you sleep better.
Consider starting a small garden to produce your own food, too. Radishes, carrots, spinach and lettuce all grow relatively quickly and will give you the best bang for your buck. In other words, they require fewer resources and will produce a more abundant crop that you can harvest every few weeks. Consider planting edible varieties and ones you might use as topical medicines and salves if you ever run out of first-aid supplies.
Of course, your plants will require water to survive. But as long as you have a good water source, growing healthy fruits, vegetables and herbs shouldn’t be an issue. If you do have a limited water supply, you must carefully choose which varieties of plants to add to your survival shelter. In this case, you may want to skip the pretty wildflowers and opt for vegetables.
Your plants will also require sunlight to grow and produce fruit. However, building a 10-foot-tall skylight might be more work than it’s worth — not to mention dangerous if you’re living in a bunker. Luckily, you can still illuminate your bunker with natural light by using a solar tube or sun tunnel. This brilliant alternative consists of a 10- or 14-inch sheet metal tube that acts as a giant mirror, funneling sunlight down into the earth.
Typically, architects put a weatherproof plastic globe on top of the tube. However, this option may leave you vulnerable to zombies or whatever else is lurking around up there. Thus, if you’re worried about someone infiltrating your fort, it’s best to stick to artificial lights. Luckily, you can purchase ones that imitate real sunlight so you never miss a day aboveground.
Many luxury bunkers feature smart technology and LED lights that mimic real sunlight. Others use phyto-equipment to grow plants underground and highly sensitive screens to display outdoor scenes to occupants. This innovative new technology even allows you to feel a slight breeze with open window settings, so you can forget about being underground for a while.
5. Entertainment Area
Life in a bunker can be incredibly boring, especially if you’re stuck in there for weeks on end. Don’t let extreme boredom quickly push you to the surface. Plan ahead and establish your own entertainment area within your shelter. It should be separate from where you sleep, eat and cook to create a more peaceful atmosphere.
Stick with one theme to design a more cohesive space, and write down all your ideas. Consider what you’d put in a man cave or family game room. Maybe you want to include a foosball table or similar games that don’t require power. Perhaps your interests include knitting and writing poems, anything is fair game. Regardless, you should fill the room with cozy seating options like bean bag chairs, couches and recliners to help you relax.
While these entertainment items might seem frivolous, they’re essential to maintaining good mental health. If you aren’t stranded with a friend or good family, things can get pretty lonely, which can make you more susceptible to illness. Being alone can also have severe psychological impacts, which can include anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks. As such, it’s important to keep your brain active.
6. Sentimental Items
If you thought things like games were frivolous, you’ll probably roll your eyes at this suggestion: take sentimental items. Yes, you should pack that old photo of you and your mom and the teddy bear you’ve cherished since you were ten years old. Sure, it may look a little silly next to your gas mask and switchblade, but you’ll be happy to have them when they’re all you have left of the world.
Instead of storing them in a box in the corner of your bunker, take them out and display them on shelves and countertops. Put a photo on your bedside table to remind yourself of the good times. While these items might coax a tear or two out of you from time to time, they’ll also give you someone or something to look forward to seeing again.
Are you worried about saving space for weapons, food and water? Take photographs of most of your sentimental items and get ready to leave them behind. That way, you still have memories to look back on and reminisce about.
7. Smart Storage Solutions
Whether your survival shelter is 50 square feet or 1,000, you’re going to need to implement smart storage solutions to ensure you have everything you require to survive. Stock up on totes, bins, shelves and organizational items. If you want your place to look like home, use decorative baskets and other aesthetically pleasing containers to store your survival supplies.
You might also purchase or make a few pieces of space-saving furniture. Add a bit of ease and function with a smart wall bed, multipurpose stackable racks and a sleeper sofa. You can even install a convertible folding desk or nesting tables to maximize space and make more room for belongings or other people. This will also help the place to feel less cluttered when you’re up and moving around throughout the day.
8. Reusable and Compostable Items
Unless you have an endless supply of water, you’ll likely stock your shelter with bottles or jugs. Unfortunately, plastic materials can take hundreds of years to decompose, leaving future generations with trash and debris you created. If you don’t want to live among your own garbage, consider packing or storing your resources in compostable or reusable containers. When you’re finished with them, you can use them as fertilizer in your bunker garden.
You might also consider reusing plastic jugs as planters, bowls, or other items that may come in handy during your time hiding out. Repurposing these non-compostable containers will minimize the amount of garbage lying around and shorten your packing list.
9. Fitness Area
Sure, you might be stuck in your shelter for weeks, but that doesn’t mean you should let yourself go. In fact, spending months in a bunker is even more reason to prioritize a fitness routine. If you let your muscles atrophy, you’ll lose your strength in weeks — and risk your life in the process.
Improve your endurance and maintain your strength by adding a fitness area to your survival shelter. Install rubber tiles or foam mats and include a few pieces of gym equipment. You might even stash a fitness machine like a Peloton or rowing machine in your bunker. These shiny new additions will motivate you to work out and prevent your muscles from atrophying while you’re in sheltering.
If you don’t have the space for machines or lots of equipment, bring adjustable free weights or resistance bands. These fitness tools are still very effective and take up minimal space. You can also use your own body weight in cardio and strength-building routines if you’re short on storage space or don’t want to lug heavy dumbbells into your bunker.
10. A Friend
Some survivalists head to their bunker to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy some peace and quiet. To them, being alone is paradise. However, if you need to lock yourself away for more than a few days, you might want to bring a friend along, especially if you’re a social butterfly. Whether you have to use survival skills or not, you’re bound to make lasting memories and get to know each other on a much deeper level.
Harboring a friend will also fight off boredom and keep your mind active. In intense situations, they can even keep you from going crazy. Instead of making up imaginary friends or talking to yourself as you slowly lose your mind, you’ll have someone you can share your thoughts and fears with. Engaging in such therapeutic conversation will help both of you cope and ultimately survive whatever event put you in the shelter in the first place.
Inviting a friend to tag along will also improve your chances of survival, especially if they’re a survivalist like you. When it comes to problem-solving, two heads are better than one. In this case, social butterflies have the upper hand.
Preparing for Anything
Before you strap on your bug-out bag and hunker down, remember to include these essentials that you may not have considered. These are necessary items in their own right and are well worth including in your survival bunker.
If you do all the above and make it your personal mission to be the best survivalist there is, you’ll have no trouble fitting both essentials like food and water and “nonessentials” like those discussed above in your shelter.
[Note: This was a guest post.]