Take Cover! How to Survive a Missile Attack
Is your country at war or under threat of attack? What you should do when you hear the death-herald of an incoming missile! Learn about a Morrison Shelter from WWII and mobile bomb shelters currently being used in Ukraine war zones. Included: Instructions for a DIY bomb shelter and essential bomb shelter supplies.
Is your state, province, or country experiencing full scale war or currently under attack from a rogue regime or threatening neighbor?
Missiles from the Sky - The Usual Suspects
Israel and Middle East countries like Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria live under constant threat of attack in the modern age.
Ukraine lives under threat of attack, or, depending on the month, is currently a war zone. Considering that Russia has invaded two countries in recent years (Georgia is the other country Russia invaded), any country neighboring Russia should be a bit nervous — will their country be next?
Taiwan lives under constant threat of the Chinese.
South Korea lives under constant threat of the North Koreans.
… and then there’s Radical Islam
And the U.S., Canada, and United Kingdom live under threat of a massive terror campaign by Islamic Radicals and their allies — allies that may include North Korea and possibly even Russia and China behind the scenes.
What is going on?
Never before have we seen so many people in earth’s history so unprepared for what might be heading our way in the near future. While a percentage of the population is taking steps to prepare for disaster, the majority of people simply are not.
Being prepared for a worst case scenario
Even if you live in a “safe” country, you should still be prepared for a worst case scenario. 2,000 years ago Jesus warned that the last days of earth would begin at a time “as it was in the days of Noah…”
Surely we see that time more so than ever before… We are living “as it was in the days of Noah” as Jesus warned would occur once more in the far off future.
That future appears to be here.
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The days of Noah
In Noah’s time, before the flood, it was life as usual in a world plagued by darkness; a lot of people had turned their backs on God. Corruption reigned. Murders happened. Prostitution rampant. Sexual immorality — which means anything from adultery to homosexuality to premarital sex and child molestation and of course rape and prostitution — was out of control.
God judged the world, at that time, and most of the people who were alive were destroyed (except for Noah and his family, for those of you familiar with how the Bible tells of the account.)
Fast-forward a few thousand years
In the modern age, in the eyes of God, the world, and especially the United States, is sitting on a Biblical time bomb. We have more corruption, and murder, and on, and on than any other time in history. Even if you don’t believe in God currently, you should be able to agree that today, more than ever before, the world has more darkness simply due to how large the world’s population has grown and how massive modern media’s reach is across the world. In addition to a world full of government corruption, we have corruption in just about every aspect of modern day culture — the pornography industry is just one example.
At some point the hammer of God is going to come down, we can be sure of that, and the Bible warns us repeatedly of a time of terror and chaos and death (that begins with war) that is coming to planet earth (the only way out, according to the Bible, is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ — it is the only way to be saved as people have been told so many times over the years but many still reject it. If you are sitting on the fences, hopefully you will reconsider that, especially in light of all the Biblical signs taking place in recent years that the world is on the precipice of catastrophic disaster.)
* * *
Surviving A Missile Attack
If you know what you must do in the event of a hurricane, earthquake or even a tsunami, it behooves you to learn how to survive a missile attack, because we’re pretty sure that you’d need something more than a reinforced dining table to protect yourself.
What follows is a survival guide on how to protect yourself when the blue heaven above turns into a bad omen for those on the ground — you hear the scream of jets or you simply hear the sound of an incoming missile.
Once a drug becomes ineffective, increasing the dosage only renders it toxic, the same can also be said of war and conflict. For instance, in its current state the conflict between Israel and Palestine has become toxic. While Israel’s Iron Dome system protects missiles from wrecking havoc in Israel, even one miss can lead to unthinkable devastation.
That is why every building in Israel is required by law to have steel reinforced bomb shelters. These bomb shelters also serve as community centers and housing after-school programs when they’re not protecting civilians from Kassam rockets fired by Hamas or Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbollah.
During the Gulf War, when Saddam was firing Scud missiles into Israel, every family was required to have a “sealed room” (a room where the windows and doors were sealed off with tape.
Enough with the dramatic talk, this article is about survival, and more specifically, surviving missile attacks, so let’s see what history tells us.
During World War II, an air raid was an attack by enemy planes that dropped bombs on targets below. A warning of incoming enemy planes was usually given by sirens. So, whenever the wailing sound of the siren was heard, people made their way to the air raid shelters. While big bombs blew whole buildings apart, the smaller bombs also known as incendiaries started fires. Once the enemy planes were gone the sirens would be sounded once again as an ‘all clear’ signal to those in the bunkers.
September 1940 marked the beginning of Germany’s air raids on London, also known as “the Blitz.” The targets of the German raids were industrial cities, such as Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Coventry, Hull, Southampton, Glasgow and Sheffield. There were also air raids on many seaside towns, such as Eastbourne.
During the Blitz the government planned to evacuate four million people from urban areas, which also included 1.4 million from London alone. The trial blackouts of August, 1939 were repeated once again and would continue for the next six years.
During the Second World War, if you were out and a bombing raid took place, you would make for the nearest shelter. At the time, the tube stations were considered to be very safe. A good example of a communal shelter is from the Aldwych tube station located in the city of Westminster in Central London, which was used as a bomb shelter in 1940. Communal shelters never housed more than one seventh of Greater London residents, however in mid-September, 1940 an estimated 150,000 people a night slept in the Underground.
Many thousands of public air-raid shelters were built for use on a communal basis, which were located in parks, waste lands and even in the middle of wide public roads. And while they did not provide protection against a direct hit, they did offer protection against a bomb blast, which actually killed more people than a direct hit. These shelters were often times painted black and marked by a large white ‘S’ so that they could be seen during a blackout.
Cellars & basements
While cellars and basements were used to keep safe from air raids, they were only a luxury of large houses, and in those houses which were built up until WWI. This meant that alternatives needed to be found, especially for keeping British citizens safe from German bombs. The basements under factory premises, hospitals and schools were utilized; but these ad hoc shelters could only do more harm than good.
Under the stairs
Under the staircase was, and still is, considered to be the strongest structure in a house. So, taking shelter under the stairs during a missile attack was not something that was unheard of. Later on, the Anderson and Morrison shelters arrived and were widely used during WWII.
The Anderson Shelter
Built to house 6 people, the Anderson shelter was designed by William Paterson and Oscar Carl Kerrison in 1938. However, it was named after Sir John Anderson, who was responsible for preparing air-raid precautions prior to the outbreak of World War II. In the Anderson shelter the main principle of protection was based on the curved and straight galvanized steel panels.
Six curved panels were bolted together at the top which formed the main frame of the shelter, while three straight sheets were place on either side and two were fixed on each end, one of which had the door. This brought the total to 14 steel panels which made up the Anderson shelter. The Anderson shelter was 6 feet high, 4.5 feet wide, and 6.5 feet in length. They were buried under 4 feet of soil and often times covered with flowers or vegetables, which were grown on top to camouflage the shelter.
Anderson shelters were issued free to all those who earned an income of less than £5 a week, while all others had to pay £7. An estimated one and a half million Anderson shelters were distributed between 1939 and the outbreak of WWII. While the Anderson shelters performed well under blast shock, however, it was realized that during winter season Anderson shelters were similar to cold damp holes in the ground and often times also flooded. This led to the development of the indoor Morrison shelter.
The Morrison Shelter
Designed by John Baker and named after the Minister of Home Security, Herbert Morrison, the Morrison shelter came in kits which could be assembled in a home. Morrison shelters were 1.2 meters in width, 2 meters in length and 75 cm tall — basically a wide, short in height rectangular “box”. The shelter was mainly designed to be slept in at night and be used as a table the rest of the time. The shelter had over 350 moveable parts, but it mainly consisted of one steel top and two wire mesh sides, one of which could be lifted up like a door. While the Morrison shelters were not designed to take a direct hit, they did prove to be effective in protecting those inside from the aftermath of an air raid.
On the other side of the divide, the Hochbunker was a German type of air raid shelter that was used during WWII. Hochbunkers were usually built with concrete and had a thickness of 1.5 meters. Mostly located in residential areas or at railway stations, the Hochbunkers were built in many shapes, and were difficult to penetrate with air strikes, but the sturdy design did cost a lot to demolish once the war was over. This is why hochbunkers still remain scattered across cities such as Hamburg and Berlin.
(For photos of an Anderson Shelter, Morrison Shelter, and Hochbunker, see this article.)
Mobile bomb shelters in 2015
Since fighting began in Ukraine in recent months between the state led army and pro Russian rebels around 1.3 million people have been displaced, and countless others have lost their lives. With the threat of missile attacks growing day by day, the use of mobile bomb shelters are becoming more and more common place in Ukraine.
Despite being made of plastic these mobile bomb shelters are able to withstand a blast of a 150-millimeter shell. This can be compared to the size of the ammunition fired by a howitzer.
These mobile bomb shelters can also withstand temperatures which range from -58 degrees to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Built to accommodate at least 12 people, these bomb shelters are modular so more sections can be added each one.
The mobile bomb shelters also come fitted with air filters for ventilation, toilets and generators so that people can live in them for extended periods of time.
Preliminary plan for a DIY bomb shelter
Needless to say, before you construct the bomb shelter you will need to have a design for it. While the design of the bomb shelter doesn’t need to be anything too complicated, it should however give you a clear idea of the measurements and how it is going to be built. Apart from that, you will also have to know where you are going to build the bomb shelter.
In most cases, the ideal location to build a bomb shelter is underground and in your backyard. But it can also be constructed in one of the rooms of your house as well. Building a bomb shelter in a location which is far away will not be wise because it would be difficult to get to during an air raid. Remember, you may only have minutes or just seconds to take cover — if your shelter is too far away, you may not get to it in time before the blast.
Once you are ready with your design, it is time to plot the area. You can start off by placing sticks to measure off where you would want to build the bomb shelter. It is recommended that the floor area of the construction site be 8’x16′.
The tools you will need to build a bomb shelter
Before you start, you will need to pick the tools you would need to construct your bomb shelter. Apart from the shovels and picks you can also make a list of the construction materials you would need, such as, cement, bricks, wood planks, steel bars or others. Once you have accumulated the list for the construction and have got all the supplies, it is time to start building the underground bomb shelter.
Building a DIY bomb shelter
Now it’s time to get our hands dirty by building our own DIY bomb shelter. Before you can start, you should be aware of the condition of the soil where you plan on building your bomb shelter. If possible, carry out a soil test to find out its holding capacity. The reason why you should know about the soil’s holding capacity is because you are going to have to dig a deep hole in the ground, so will have to make sure that the soil does not cave in while you’re underground.
1 Assign a single task to each family member according to their strengths. Once you have dug deep enough and removed the soil, you will have to start with the masonry works.
2. You can dig the trench as deep as you like (the lower you are, the safer you will be from a bomb blast up above). (Digging a trench comes with it’s dangers the deeper you go — be aware of safe trench digging practices.)
3. The finishing touches to your bomb shelter do not need to be too intricate, just a simple design would do.
4. Once you have dug the trench you will have to place logs with a measurement of one foot wider than the trench on top of the opening.
5. After you have placed the logs (or poles) on top, cover any cracks you can see with leaves or old clothes.
6. Once you have made sure that no dust can get into the trench, you can place some of the soil that you have dug up on top as well for added protection.
7. Once the bomb shelter is completed, it is time to stock it with supplies, such as non-perishable food and water along with some other provisions that you or your family may need.
8. You can also build a toilet on a separate space and cover it up with a blanket.
9. You can also install make-shift beds if you know how to construct one, or just used old blankets by piling them up on top of each other.
10. It is important to make sure that the bomb shelter has two exits on either side in case of an emergency. The door should be built to swing inward and can be built under a foot of sand and above the ground.
11. A vertical ladder at the entrance will provide access to and from the shelter.
12. When building your own shelter, you will need a plan for ensuring proper ventilation to keep those inside from carbon monoxide poisoning (we’re only talking about a non-nuclear missile strike today — so no radioactive fallout to consider.)
13. It is also important to build the bomb shelter large enough so that each individual has a space of at least twenty square feet to provide a sufficient amount of space for them to eat, sleep and store supplies if they have to stay there for the long haul.
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Consider using concrete for your bomb shelter
Ambitious DIY bomb shelter builders could also build one with concrete. Shelters which are constructed with concrete should have six centimeters or nine centimeters of packed earth.
Consider hiring a local contractor to build your bomb shelter
With the considerable amount of hassle that one would have to deal with, you might be contemplating on why you should bother with building your own bomb shelter. Why not just hire someone to do the dirty work for you?
While there may be many reasons for wanting to build a bomb shelter yourself, it all ultimately comes down to you and your needs. Going the DIY route will certainly mean that you will get to do more customizations to your bomb shelter, although it will be better to complete the bomb shelter as soon as possible if you are living in a war zone. As it is with almost all DIY projects, with the adequate amount of planning and considerable care, you can also save a significant amount of cash by doing it yourself.
Controlling the temperature
Needless to say, a bomb shelter obviously needs to have an efficient cooling system mainly because after a while underground, the temperature rises and the shelter begins to get hot. This is why you should build openings with heavy flaps which you can swing open from hinges on the ceiling of the bomb shelter.
If you are building one out of concrete, stick a small PVC pipe through the cement before it dries. Most people are not likely to invest the funds for an air filtration system for a backyard bomb shelter, though that would be the best avenue to take (especially one that can be wired to run off solar power first and then a fuel powered generator as a backup, if the solar panels fail at some point).
To avoid heat stroke and suffocation due to the heat inside a bomb shelter, proper air-intake and air-exhaust pipes at opposite ends should of course be included during construction.
An air pump can be operated manually to remove stale air and usher in fresh air from the outside.
Supplies for your bomb shelter
A bomb shelter should have certain supplies such as containers of water (pack more than you think you need, if you can), a hammer and shovel, and non perishable food that does not need to be cooked. You could also keep a radio so that you can get updates on the situation outside while you are in the bomb shelter. Other items such as flashlights, backup batteries, and a first aid kit can also be useful following an air raid. (We detail a number of other essential survival supplies on our survival gear page.)
First aid essentials
First aid kits (and essential supplies) should be stored in a place where one or more are easily accessible and within reach (in the event of a partial collapse of your shelter) and in containers unlikely to be damaged. The following are some of the supplies you would need in your first aid kit.
Bandages (including bandages for severe trauma)
Safety razor blade
Antiseptic or hydrogen peroxide
Prescription medications as needed.
Supplies for DIY suturing (be prepared — you may have to stitch someone up if an injury is severe enough and to save them from bleeding to death).
The rule of three
This comes from the number three rule which is a method used to measure the duration in which people can survive an emergency. While this is a guide to build a simple bomb shelter, it is important to know that people cannot survive for more than three minutes without air, three days without water and thirty days without food.
During a missile attack, if the only place you have for shelter is your home then you’ll be safer with no glass around. But, if you do need some sunlight coming in then you could always use a substitute for glass instead. You can make a temporary substitute for glass which can be used on window panes by using a double thickness of muslin or cheese cloth, which can be fastened over the window pane and coated with varnish. If you do not want to remove the glass from your window panes then the least you can do is keep it from flying in. The easiest way of doing that is by pasting light colored cloth on the insides of the window pane. You can stick the cloth on by using a paste;
Mix two tablespoons of flour with one teaspoon of washing soda and three tablespoons of water. Once mixed into a paste, add half a pint of boiling water while stirring briskly for ten to fifteen minutes. You can also add half an ounce of borax for the prevention of any mildew. Now, stick the paste to the window frame and any glazing bars as well and on the glass. Using the paste properly will prevent the glass from flying inside your home and being scattered in hundreds of dangerous pieces once a bomb goes off (you can also simply just use duct tape on both sides of your window panes, especially in worst case attacks).
While the window panes covered in cheese cloth will not look attractive from the outside, it does address an important issue; that glass is not your friend, in hurricanes, earthquakes and certainly not during air raids.
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Out in the Open
If you’re stuck in the open during an air raid or missile attack there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe. One of them is to avoid making your body act like a biological shock absorber by staying away from any solid walls, this is so you can keep yourself from getting injured due to a violent earth shock because of the blast.
You should also keep your mouth slightly open to protect your lungs.
Also, splinters from the blast usually fly upwards, so you will be safer near the ground. Therefore, it is safer to sit than to stand, and lie down instead of sitting down during the event of a rocket attack. The best position to take when a rocket has hit somewhere nearby is by laying down on your face and supporting your head with your arms.
There is good news …
While missile attacks are dangerous, their effectiveness is somewhat limited. For example, after Britain, with a population of 45,000,000 was bombed for two years during WWII, the death toll was less than a thousand. That’s because all direct hits do not result in civilian casualties, and not all rockets are able to register a direct hit.
Since a large area of any city consists of open ground, with other areas consisting of buildings which are evacuated with the sound of an alarm, even a direct hit would not cause much loss of life. That being said, the best place to be when the missile strikes is of course indoors or better still, in a bomb shelter.
The sound of war
A missile is always followed by destruction, especially in places such as Israel where residents have become experts in recognizing the different sounds of combat, from the Apaches and drones that fly by on a regular basis, to the F-16 missiles and the Fajr rockets that are fired by Hamas. Depending on the size of the rocket, bottle rockets normally make a “fwee” whistle-like sound, while something larger would make a roaring sound during takeoff, which would be followed by a whooshing sound.
Do’s & don’t’s during a missile attack
During a missile attack there are a few do’s and don’t’s that you would want to get yourself familiar with since it could most probably save your life and the lives of others.
- Don’t try to watch the air raid or the rocket strike (instead, tell people to take cover and run for cover yourself).
- Don’t take photographs of the missile attack to share on social media.
- Don’t take shelter near windows.
- Don’t lean against walls, even inside your home.
- Don’t congregate in large groups in a house or out in the open.
- Do try and identify the safest room in your house.
- Have cheese-cloth or some other covering ready to put on the windows (or simply use duct tape if you’re not concerned about the pain of removing it from the glass after the fact).
- Do build an ad-hoc bomb shelter out of a table and mattresses if that is all there is handy.
- Lie on the ground with your hands over your head and close your eyes till all is clear.
Be prepared for evacuation
As many countries have seen in recent years, war zones have created large numbers of refugees who have fled for neighboring nations, when possible. At best they are out of the immediate reach of missiles and at worst they now have to accept life under rules similar to martial law, sometimes confined to large scale tent cities catered to by international care and emergency relief groups like the Red Cross.
But some countries being bombed, like Yemen, leave civilians with nowhere to evacuate to. Most cannot afford to fly their families from the country; it was an email from a reader in Yemen that inspired this article in the last few days. This reader and his family are unfortunately in a very bad situation, I hate to say.
A look at history shows though that it may not be impossible to survive in a war zone when evacuation to a neighboring (or distant) country is not an option. At least for several months or even possibly years.
Taking refuge in mountainous terrain
Native Americans, during and after the Civil War in the United States in the desert southwest states of America, notably the Apache tribe, were able to survive by taking refuge in harsh mountainous terrain, where they would send groups out to raid supplies from Union outposts and transports (and of course settlements, which boiled down to murder and robbery on many occasions — which we do not advocate in anyway).
During a time of war, if you have to survive and provide for your family, taking refuge in the mountains and raiding military supply lines comes with a risk — the Apaches showed though that even if your land has been invaded that invaders are not likely to follow you into the harshest of terrain. The Apaches were some of history’s most notable survivors — that is until they were finally undone in later years by sheer power and reach of the U.S. government.
Surviving and living off the land
With that in mind, rather than raid government supply lines and risk bringing the military after you, it would be a better plan to learn how to live off the land, and how to procure food and water for yourself and family as well as how to avoid and circumvent known dangers.
Circumventing dangers to refugees
Those dangers could include:
Guerillas - Murderous guerilla groups or rebels operating in terrain that you hope to travel through (unless these groups have a reputation for being charitable toward refugees, they should be avoided at all cost — historically, many guerilla groups and rebels have been thieves and murderers who you would not want to encounter in remote country).
Climate - Set out on your journey during a season of the year with the mildest climate for traveling through harsh terrain — so that extreme temperatures of either hot or cold are avoided, as well as things like sand storms, or snow, or flash floods (unless you have a strategy for dealing with the weather). For example, refugees fleeing Yemen currently may want to evacuate during the winter months when desert temperatures are lowest, as well as travel at night for even cooler temperatures (and to avoid patrols and possibly being seen at night from the air).
Seek help online from an international relief organization
Christians fleeing Middle East countries due to the spread of Islamic violence and persecution toward Christians can seek help from international organizations like Open Doors.
In some countries of conflict, such as Israel, attacks are so frequent that bomb shelters are everywhere. Most residential, public and industrial buildings have these bomb shelters, which was mandated by a law passed back in 1951. In fact, bomb shelters are even found on the beach in Israel.
In South Korea, another country under constant threat of attack from its neighbor in the north, many subway stations in cities such as, Seoul serve as bomb shelters. That’s the reason why in many large subway stations, there are specially placed cabinets with “relief goods storage” written on them and contain gas masks and other emergency supplies. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, there are around 3,919 underground shelters in the city.
While bomb shelters in South Korea, Israel and so on can save precious lives from missile attacks, in other countries such as Yemen, Palestine and Ukraine the citizens are left to fend for themselves. Hopefully, some of the information in this guide will help the readers come up with better ways to be prepared when destruction comes from the skies.