Sasha and Olena D. lived in Bucha, Ukraine when the invasion started. The couple and their children had nowhere to go as Russia began bombing.
When the invasion started in February the Russians destroyed schools, stores, and homes.
Sasha and Olena retreated with their kids to the basement of their three-story home. They planned to hide for a few days while the invading troops moved through the area.
After a few days in hiding the family lost internet access. Then, a few days later they lost electricity. Next, the water and gas lines were destroyed.
They survived by boiling food to eat, using water from a neighbor’s cistern.
When they needed light, they used a flashlight with a cup over it to weaken the light so passing soldiers wouldn’t see them.
When bombs would hit the area, the family would all get under a mattress.
Every morning, Olena would sneak up to the top floor of the home to try to get a cellular signal. She wanted to let her family and friends know that they were still alive.
Sasha and Olena stayed underground for over 14 days.
They were unable to move from their home since they knew it would be impossible to get past Russian soldiers unharmed.
But one morning Olena called her father-in-law to check-in. He told her that the family had twenty minutes to get to a Red Cross pick-up location.
Buses were there to take them to the Polish border and Russia had agreed to let families with children leave the area.
Sasha and Olena gathered their belongings and got in their car with their two children.
They put signs in the car windows that said “Children” in Russian. They tore apart white towels and tied them to the car.
The family had stuffed as much as they could into four suitcases knowing they would likely not return home.
After driving over three hours the family arrived at the Red Cross location.
Once there, they were watched closely by Russian soldiers. Eventually, the family was told that the Red Cross would not be allowed in.
Russian soldiers told them to return home.
“Something told me that would not be good,” Olena said.
Sasha spoke to a Russian soldier and asked if they would be shot if they tried to continue driving to the border.
The soldier said probably not…
So, the family continued driving to the Polish border where they were finally able to escape Ukraine.
They eventually made their way to the U.S. with their children, and live with friends while they try to rebuild their lives.
But they would never have made it to the U.S. had they not been able to survive the 14 days in their basement.
They survived because they made smart choices, and they had enough food and water to live in their basement.
Now, when it comes to surviving wars or natural disasters many people think a bunker is the best option.
Yet, if you have a basement, you can turn it into a survival shelter without having to create a new structure.
With that in mind, here are a few factors to consider when turning your basement into a survival shelter.
On average, each person will need one gallon of water per day to survive. Ideally, you will have water storage in your basement.
I would try to stockpile thirty days’ worth of water for your family. You should keep this in your basement if that is where you plan to stay.
Using 55-gallon drums or WaterBricks is a great way to store a lot of water.
Of course, like Sasha and Olena you should use other water sources first if it’s safe to do so.
If your city water is still safe to drink, I would use tap water as long as you can, though you might need to filter it before drinking.
So, use what is available before using your stockpile.
Also, if you have a well make sure it is something you can secure, but access during an emergency.
Plan an escape route:
If you make your basement your survival bunker, you should plan like you’ll be there long-term.
But the last thing you want is to be trapped in your basement…
So, when you are preparing your basement bunker make sure that there is at least one escape opening in addition to the main entrance.
Most modern homes already have two exits in a basement: one into the home and one that leads outside.
Now, because the exit that leads outside could be a window, you need to check to make sure it’s a window that everyone can access and get through.
For instance, if the window is high then you’ll need to keep a ladder near the window, etc.
Add extra insulation:
If the power goes out, your basement could see extreme temperatures. For instance, in the winter it could get really cold.
Being underground already acts as a bit of insulation. Yet, you should add more if you plan to make it a bunker.
Adding extra insulation to your basement will also help keep your food and water storage fresh because the temperatures in the basement won’t be as extreme.
Also, have plenty of blankets and sleeping bags as part of your survival gear in the basement.
And remember to avoid using any type of propane heaters that could release toxic gases.
If you are staying in your basement long-term then you should absolutely have lots of food storage.
In addition, you could consider growing food in your basement.
Of course, you aren’t going to have a huge garden. However, with water and a light source, you can create a little garden in your basement.
One option for a basement garden is to use hydroponics.
This is a garden that uses nutrient water instead of soil. You can set up small solar lights and should be able to provide plenty of light.
Now, the truth is, creating a basement shelter is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to create a safe place for your family.
The factors mentioned above are just a few of the things to keep in mind when creating a basement shelter.
When disaster strikes, having the ability to run downstairs and hunker down can mean the difference between surviving or not.