17 Items I Keep in My Fallout Shelter at All Times

by Tommy Grant

A fallout shelter is designed for one thing: to keep you and your family alive and safe from nuclear radiation in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

In the event of a nuclear blast going off in your area, it will be unsafe to spend time outside up to two weeks at the bare minimum.

This is because the radiation needs time to subside and become less harmful, and even after two weeks, it may still be dangerous and you’ll want to do so at your own risk and take extra precautions.

Regardless of when you choose to venture out into the outside world in this scenario, you’re going to need to be prepared to spend a fair amount of time in your fallout shelter. That’s why your shelter will need to be well stocked.

Here are the items I keep in my fallout shelter at all times to give you a few ideas for what you should include in yours. Note that in this list, I’ll be talking about specific items that go beyond the basic essentials, such as food and water:


I think a small library of books are among the most overlooked items that one can keep in their nuclear fallout shelter. Not only is reading a healthy activity, but books provide a wealth of information and can help pass the time.

In my family’s shelter, we keep a copy of the Bible, famous novels, children’s books, and books relating to survival and disaster preparedness. I believe books demonstrating (with pictures) how to build shelters, identify poisonous plants, and how to survive different survival scenarios are among the most important to keep.

Container For Contaminated Items

If any clothing, items, or tools become contaminated in any way, you need to get rid of them. To do this, I recommend having a large container that you have purely for the purposes of storing contaminated items. The next best thing would be a trash bag.


17 Items I Keep in My Fallout Shelter at All TimesA dosimeter is used for measuring radiation levels on your body.

I highly recommend keeping at least two and with an extra pack of batteries for them in your fallout shelter at all times.

Related: Rich In Iodine: 5 Foods That Help Manage Radiation Effects

Duct Tape

Duct tape can be a lifesaver in many situations. Besides being used to repair just about anything, you can use it to seal off any holes that may develop in your shelter.


I like to keep at least two large flashlights in our shelter, along with a smaller flashlight for each member of the family. I also recommend you keep an extra pack of batteries for each flashlight as well.


You’re going to need some fun items in your shelter to help pass the time and boost morale. This is why I include a couple of decks of cards as well as some of my family’s favorite board games in our fall out shelter.

Hazmat Suits, Goggles, and Gas Masks

17 Items I Keep in My Fallout Shelter at All TimesThe image of people emerging from nuclear fallout shelters wearing hazmat suits and gas masks with goggles is a cliche, but there’s a reason why it’s a cliche.

When you re-emerge out of your shelter, you need to ensure that every square inch of your body is covered and shielded and that you can safely breathe.

Remember, even after two weeks it may be dangerous to re-emerge out of your shelter, so you don’t want to take any chances. Cover up!


If you have any prescription medications or medications that you take regularly, you’re going to want to stockpile a very healthy supply of them in your shelter.

Remember that you likely won’t be able to resupply yourself for quite some time (or even ever) after a nuclear blast has gone off. Since antibiotics are typically not available over the counter, here is an ingenious way to stockpile antibiotics without a prescription, before it’s too late.

Personal Documents

I’d recommend you keep copies of birth certificates, passports, insurance, and documents that serve as proof of ownership over any assets you have. I keep our documents stored in a lockbox in the shelter for extra security.

Self-Defense Tools

You must be prepared to defend your fallout shelter at all times. Besides firearms, I also recommend that you keep non-lethal self-defense weapons in your shelter as well.

Sleeping Items (Cot, Sleeping Bag, Blanket, Pillow)

17 Items I Keep in My Fallout Shelter at All TimesA good ground rule to follow is to have one cot, sleeping bag, blanket, and pillow per person.

I do recommend that you go with cots rather than actual beds, just because they can be broken down or folded up to stash away easier just in case you need to create extra space.

Potassium Iodide Tablets

You can use potassium iodide tablets to protect your thyroid glands against radioactive materials. I’d keep at least a few bottles in your shelter.


You’ll need a shovel for digging latrines, burying items, or making defensive fortifications after re-emerging into the outside world.

Maps and Compasses

17 Items I Keep in My Fallout Shelter at All TimesYou won’t be able to rely on your phone or a GPS for navigation after a nuclear fallout.

The older style map and compass will become your new best friends when it comes to navigation.

Related: 6 Essential Maps to Store Before an EMP

Warm Clothes

Something about nuclear blasts that people often forget about is how much colder it’s going to get outside. That’s because the soot and ash from a blast will block out the sun.

Make sure that you have more than enough warm clothes for every member of your family in your fallout shelter.

Water Filter

In addition to our water storage, we also store a family-sized water filter as well as small personal water filters for each member of the family.

In the event of a nuclear incident or a powerful solar flare, electromagnetic pulses can wreak havoc on electronic devices critical for communication and safety.

The EMP Cloth is a specialized material engineered to effectively shield against all forms of electromagnetic waves. It has been in such high demand lately that it’s rarely in stock anymore, so secure yours before it’s too late.

If you’re currently planning a nuclear fallout shelter, deciding which types of items you will keep in that shelter will be a big part of your preparations.

I highly suggest that you consider keeping each of the above items in your shelter like I’ve done, while still thinking about what further items could be useful depending on your circumstances or where you live.

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