You are living in 60s America. They are teaching you to duck and cover in kindergarten. Your daddy digs a hole in the backyard. Then one day the hole has a cover on it. The next night your parents are sitting in front of the flickering boob. They wake you up and you take your cap gun or barbie doll to the hole in the back yard. They close the cover. The neighbor comes and bangs on the cover and your daddy screams at him while your momma says it's all right kids. The End.

Large ones were built by the Office of Civil Defense. They were in the basement of large buildings. They were fully stocked with cots, geiger counters, blankets, medicine, sugical supplies, generators, light bulbs, etc. For food, the survivors were supposed to live on crackers, hard candy, and water.

Some of these are still around. The candy is quite good, I'm eating one right now.

Tips for building your own fallout shelter

The main purpose of a fallout shelter is protect you from the fallout radiation from a nuclear blast. The following amounts of material will protect you from 99% of the radiation:

You'll need one gallon of water per person per day. You'll need to be underground for at least 14 days.

Source: Canadian Department of National Defence, 11 Steps to Survival, 1969.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine is indeed a fallout shelter, created during the Cuban Missile Crisis, not to protect its employees, but to protect the books. In fact, the library is constructed such that if Washington D. C. were ground zero for a nulclear blast, the second floor of the library would cave in. The stacks would remain undamaged, protected by a 100-foot concrete barrier.

The second floor contains all the offices of the personnel department.

Ha. A fitting end to red tape and collective ineptitude. :)

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