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Fallout Shelters

The concern over nuclear fallout resulted in governments and private businesses issuing printed resources that encouraged citizens to construct fallout shelters in their spare time. These publications encouraged fallout shelters to be built in private residents, schools, and farms.

Do-It-Yourself Atomic Shelter
The cover of a manual that details how to build a personal fallout shelter. The cover notes that these fallout shelter designs are for "ecconomical and easy construction". The standard that these designs adhear to are also noted. The publication comes from "The Office of Defense Mobilization".

This public fallout preparedness movement was directed in three primary ways. The first was to inform the public of the dangers of fallout and how to protect oneself from it. The second was to inform the public of survival methods and the need for supplies. Finally, the government provided the public with designs for shelters.


Frequently, these publications addressed each one of these three topics. Generally, they would follow a set plan of informing the public of the need for fallout shelters, and explaining the nature of radiation. Other uses for fallout shelters would be mentioned in these texts. This would include such things as using fallout shelters as a means of surviving natural disasters, and as extra rooms that could be used as spare bedrooms or game rooms. Stored food would often be compared to a form of "savings", and the added home value from building a fallout shelter was a commonly mentioned benefit. Peace of mind and preparedness were main reasons that were put forward for building fallout shelters.


The descriptions of radiation usually highlighted the silent dangers of it, and explained that fallout was much different than bomb blasts. Frequently, these publications would attempt to dispel myths about fallout shelters. A common myth was that fallout could be spread from person to person much like a disease. Charts explaining the level of protection offered by different building materials, and fallout shelter designs were given a percentage rating that related to the amount of radiation they could keep out. The amount of time it took for radiation to begin to lessen was explained through charts, and many publications listed a two week period as being the amount of time needed to stay in a fallout shelter. This prompted lists of medical supplies and foodstuffs required to survive for that amount of time.


The designs for fallout shelters ranged from detailed to general descriptions. The most commonly mentioned fallout shelter design was a converted basement room. However, more complicated designs were readily available, and DIY fallout shelter kits were available. Average people could send away for blueprints of fallout shelter designs. Designs for schools and community shelters were made in detail with these designs distributed to the public generally in the form of architectural drawings.

Courtesy of Utah State Special Collections

Documents titled: Do-It-YourSelf Fallout Shelters, You Can Protect Your Family Against Fallout, Your One Defense Against Fallout, Fallout Shelter Series.

Utah State University Special Collections, Collection#342 Box#152 Folder# 6 

Farm and Livestock Fallout Shelter

Utah State University Special Collections, Box#19.5 Folder#321-330