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Secrecy in Prepping Part 2: Underground

Not too long ago I wrote an article called “Secrecy in Prepping” that focused on the realities of stockpiling goods. The article discussed how that if other people knew that you were stockpiling supplies like food, water, medicine, weapons, and ammunition, that this could cause you to become a target for those who did not have the foresight to be so prepared in the event of an emergency. I am not only talking about the average citizen, but our own government could target you simply for the goods you have stored.

Shhhh…

Beyond keeping the motto to heart that “loose lips sink ships”, another good adage to live by is “out of sight, out of mind”. What I mean by this is that if you are stockpiling goods, where are you storing them? Do you just have shelving in the basement covered with canned goods? Are your firearms and ammunition merely under the bed, in the closet, or at best, in a gun safe?

Well, there are better things that you can do with these items to keep them safe, especially if you are handy with a saw and hammer. Also, if you own land that you live on (or even if you own land that you don’t live on) there are better ways to store your emergency supplies. What I am talking about here are burial vaults, secret rooms, and hidden doorways.

An example of some food stuffs in a burial cache:

Going to the extreme

Some might think these kinds of tactics would be extreme measures. I mean, come on, it’s just some canned goods and a few guns, right? Wrong. These goods are your LIFE LINE in an emergency, especially one as serious as SHTF or TEOTWAWKI. So you have to ask yourself this question; to what extreme are you willing to go to protect your loved ones and/or yourself?

worm farming

Some people have the state of mind that they would help out their fellow man (human). That’s all well and good, and it’s heartwarming that people care enough about their fellow human to be so concerned. But the reality of it in these types of situations is that you just can’t do it. You will have to ignore those less fortunate and less prepared and leave them to their means. In doing this you are protecting you and yours. But you may have to take even more harsh measures against your fellow human being, you might have to shoot them, kill them, to protect yourself and your family.

Have a heart

If you don’t think you would have the heart or stomach to kill someone, then think about that while you think about your stockpile of goods. Who knows it is there? Who have you told? Who knows what you have and who have they told? Then you have to consider, who have they told?

Information spreads by word of mouth, often in casual conversation. Joe and Jim are playing golf and Jim mentions to Joe that Tom is a prepper and has a whole basement full of food and water, Tom must be crazy, huh Joe.

So then at lunch the next day Joe tells Fred that yesterday on the golf course Jim told him that Tom thinks the world is going to end and so he has a whole bunch of food and supplies in his basement.

So after work that day Fred goes home and tells his wife that Joe told him that Jim told Joe when they were playing golf that Tom is one of those crazy prepper guys and has a whole warehouse full of food and water and all kinds of medicine because he is afraid the world is going to end.

So, the next day, Fred’s wife is at the beauty salon and tells the girls what her husband told her, they all go home and tell their husbands and so on. That’s just two days worth of casual conversation, and already over a dozen people know that Tom has a stockpile of supplies for an emergency.

What do you think those people are going to do if something happens that suddenly thrusts them into a situation where food and water is now more valuable than gold? They are all going to go to Toms house is what will happen.

The moral of this story is, if you don’t want to kill people to protect your family then you should minimize the risk of that happening by keeping your mouth shut and don’t tell anyone what you do. It’s none of their business anyway, right?

If they don’t see it, it isn’t there

So just what exactly should you do with your stockpiles of goods to keep them and everyone involved (or not involved) safe? Well, there are a few things that I have in mind.

Burial vaults

The first thing to consider for stashing away your dry goods and weapons is to hide them in burial vaults.  Another old saying comes to mind here, “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”. Wise advice, it means in this case to spread things around.

A handy way to make a burial vault is with PVC pipe. You can use a length of pipe with a cap glued on one end and a screw on cap on the other end. Be sure to use thread tape on them and then these are very water tight.

You can bury them on their side and it doesn’t take much to dig a little trench to lay them in. Then all you have to do is just cover them with dirt and leaves and there you go, you have a little water tight cache of supplies. Also, since these are so inexpensive you can plant these all over the place. I strongly suggest that you have several and keep similar items in each one.

If you are on a tight budget you can just stash a little $100 pistol like a .22 or get a hi-point if you want a larger caliber. A hi-point is cheap, but they work, and for a 9mm or .45 for around $150 you can bury one of those and a few hundred rounds of ammunition a few times and it won’t break the bank.

Here is an example of what I am talking about:

I think that you should try to pack them like you would a bug out bag with various items. That way all you need to do is recover one and you will have food, a firearm, and medicine, even a liter or two of water can be stashed in them. You could even roll up a backpack and stuff that in the tube, then put the BOB contents in the tube. Then when you need it, dig it up, fill the backpack, and you are ready to go.

Also keep in mind that PVC comes in bigger sized than just the little 6” stuff in these videos. You can get 24” diameter pipe and bury an arsenal in one of them. Just think about how much stuff you can fit in a pipe 24” in diameter and four feet long. That’s a lot of stuff.

You can fit hundreds of canned goods inside a pipe vault that size, and it will last for a very long time. Keep in mind that canned goods will succumb to winter if you don’t bury it deep enough to keep it from freezing. You will want to make sure there is at least three feet of dirt covering it if you live in an area that experiences freezing winters.

Underground room

If you don’t like the idea of burying your stuff scattered about and would prefer to keep it in one place, you can do that too. If you combine all of the digging it would take to bury several small pipe vaults and do it in one location, you can make yourself an underground room.

Dig it deep, dig it somewhere that you can easily conceal the entrance, and dig it somewhere that you don’t have to be concerned about flooding. I am talking about digging into a hillside. Just start digging straight back into a hillside until you create a tunnel of suitable size to crawl through easily. I would want it about three feet around.

You can dig it big enough to then slide a length of 36” diameter PVC pipe into the tunnel to keep it from collapsing on you. Once you have a tunnel dug deep enough to your liking, and deep enough into the side of the hill for a small room, then make one.

Yes, you heard me right. At the end of the tunnel, start digging a room big enough to stand up in and move around in. This was a common practice by the bad guys during the Vietnam war and by the Japanese in WWII.

Since this room is underground it will maintain a stable temperature and be a very good storage facility for food and water as well as other supplies. You can still seal supplies like firearms inside of air and water tight containers to protect them. You can seal your dry goods, beans, rice, flour, etc in containers like this as well.

You can make this secret room right next to your house if your property layout allows for it, or you can make a room like this hidden away somewhere. A sealed and locked door over the opening hidden by dirt and rocks, etc. or maybe a “fallen log” in front of it to conceal it will keep others out.

I found this video and it’s not a bad idea to keep some things out of sight but still easily obtainable:

Hidden room

You can make a hidden room in your house. Having been in the construction industry for over twenty years I have seen many homes with panic rooms. Some of these rooms were small, maybe 10×10, others were bigger than my house that I lived in, and they were all hidden away behind secret doors.

My favorite one was in a very large home that belonged to a very wealthy couple and due to non-disclosure agreements I am not even allowed to say that he was a leather importer. Oops…

But there was a secret door hidden in the back of the master bedroom ladies dressing room closet. This door went down a narrow staircase into the room. The other entrance was in the basement itself, a mere 20 feet from a walk out basement door that seemed terribly out of place to me in its location to pretty much nowhere outside but the side yard.

Then there was a magnificent book case in the basement, and one of the sections was on a magnetic lock that had a secret latch hidden away that only I, the other carpenter that built it and the homeowners knew where it was and how to unlock it. Inside this entrance was a 2 bedroom apartment within the home. Similar to the picture below, but much more elaborate.

It was about 800-1000 sq ft., had a full kitchen, a full bath, was fully furnished very nicely, and had a huge 4 ton safe right smack in the middle of the kitchen with cabinets built around it to hide it. The safe was actually lowered into the basement by crane at the beginning of construction and then had a protective wooden crate built around it.

This room had a separate utility from the main house that could not be cut off from outside. The utilities service was all buried and the apartment/panic room had a service panel inside it. It had a separate water supply from the main house that had the meter hidden away from the main house water meter. The alarm system for the entire house was based in this panic room as well.

It had an air filter and a fully stocked pantry, and its own HVAC system. They said it was set up for the two of them to stay in for a month if need be, but mostly it was to escape to in case of home invasion to await the police. This was the most elaborate safe room I have ever seen. But I saw others as well, most were just basic storage rooms, but some were very nice.

Here is a secret room behind a bookcase. But this is under a staircase and so it is pretty obvious that there is a dead space there, perfect for a hidden room. So you should be more creative when you make your hidden room:

Another one I liked was also in a pretty big house. It had a large front porch that was about 8 feet wide and 25 feet long. When the basement walls were poured the porch hole was poured separate. I thought it strange to have a porch hole poured like that, because it didn’t need to have a hole there for a porch.

Then when I had a private meeting with the builder and homeowner and they explained what was going on, I had to build a support system in the hole and put corrugated sheet metal over the hole. Then I built a concrete form 6 inches thick (thick for a porch) and placed heavy wire mesh in it, also unusual for a porch. Then I had a concrete crew come and pour the porch and do an aggregate finish on it, a very nice looking porch.

The real fun came when the house was finished and all the crews were gone. I went into the basement and cut a doorway through the concrete basement wall into that porch hole. Then I removed all of the wooden bracing that held up the corrugated metal and several tons of concrete that capped it.

This created a 200 sg ft. room, with 10 ft ceilings, underground, with thick concrete walls. I turned it into a modest safe room, not fancy like the other one. It was addressed as a “storm shelter” in the plans, but no one knew about it but me, the builder, and the homeowners.

It was stocked with food, water, a filtered ventilation system, a chemical toilet a sofa and some cots for sleeping. It covered just the basics, but was a very secure shelter.

The ventilation system was one of those NBC filter systems and the inlet was routed several yards away and hidden in some shrubbery out of sight. If you didn’t know it was there you would never find it.

They didn’t have running water in there but they have a giant water tank, I’d say it was 200-300 gallons. They had it filled up with just tap water I guess, it’s not like it’s going to go bad sealed up in a big plastic water tank in a basement.

The entrance was in the basement, it was a steel door mounted in a steel frame that I bolted into the concrete wall with 8 inch long bolts. It had a couple of deadbolt locks on it and then that door was hidden behind a book case that I was rather proud of the way I made it open and close. It had no lock on the books case, but if you didn’t k now it was there you would never know to try to open it.

The one thing these two rooms had in common (and there were several more that I did) is that they were SECRET. Sure, I told a few people about making a cool secret room, but they have no idea where they are located. I can say they are in Kentucky, mostly in the Louisville area, and that narrows it down to about a million homes, so good luck finding them.

Digging in

I always thought it was a good idea to have a double basement, and yes, there was a house I built with one of those, and it was huge, but most of it wasn’t a secret room, only a portion of it. But I always thought that would be a good idea, if you were building a new house you could dig the basement hole deeper (or even just a half basement on the second level).

Then you could either put a wooden floor between the basement levels, or you could put a concrete cap on the lower level, which would be the floor of the first basement level, thereby not raising any eyebrows. A wooden floor in a basement would make someone wonder why and what was under it.

You could also put a wooden floor and then use thin-set concrete over the wooden floor to make it seem like a regular concrete basement floor and that would also help to sound proof the lower basement room.  Any method like this would work, but to have a double basement would be a great secret room.

I would make the addition of having an escape tunnel that goes out away from the house and had a manhole cover type thing, but one that is water tight and locks for just in case you needed to get out secret like.

Final dig

But whatever you choose to do, do it SECRETLY. There are companies that build underground bunkers and they will keep it “secret”, but the fact remains that they will have records for their business practices for tax purposes etc.

The fact is that within those records someone could find out that you have a bunker. So doing it yourself is the best way. If you live out in the country then just do it. If you need the hole dug then just rent a back hoe and dig it yourself. It isn’t hard to do.

Worst case scenario if you are digging and someone gets nosey you can either tell them you are digging a pond or lake, or you can toss them in the hole under the bunker.

You can read part 1 here.

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About Eric W. Eichenberger

Eric W. Eichenberger
Eric Eichenberger is an avid outdoorsman, skilled marksman, and former certified range officer and instructor with nearly 40 years experience handling and repairing firearms. A skilled craftsman with a strong love for working with his hands, Eric spent 20 years as a carpenter and custom woodworker in high end homes. As a gold and silversmith he has created hundreds of pieces of jewelry over the years using the lost wax casting method. The grandson of humble country folk, he was raised with the “do it yourself” mentality and so is accustomed to coming up with unique solutions to problems utilizing materials at hand.

2 comments

  1. Very good info I have also thought of this . I’m leaning more on this in more than one place like BOL If need to

  2. And from the sub-basement, a tunnel to a point distant from the house. Shored with treated lumber and cased in plastic sheet or fiberglass sheets, it ought to last along time, and lead to an angled stairway , also shored and planked for steps, that would lead to an opening just under the root system of the wild roses you put there to keep the weight of people and animals off it. It is not inconceivable that any number of reasons it could provide entry or escape for any number off reasons. Simply discourage visitors for some time, and keep that hole in your face shut about it to all but your very closest relatives, unless they are the yappy sort.

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