> TEOTWAWKI Blog: A look at Swiss bomb shelters



A look at Swiss bomb shelters

If there's any country that comes across as well prepared, it's Switzerland. Along with cheese, wine, cows, skiing, and army knives, the Swiss take theirnational security very seriously. This stems back to the days of WWII, where the threat of Nazi invasion forced them to build up their defences and prepare for the worst. Switzerland, despite their neutrality (or perhaps because of it) has not let up on their preps in the years since. They take their national security seriously, and theirnational bunker/shelter system is a good example.

By Swiss law, all inhabitants of the country must have access to shelter space. For many Swiss citizens, this space is in a large civil defense shelter, but for others, and specifically non-Swiss, this shelter space comes in the form of a heavy-duty basement shelter. The bomb shelter isn't a nice-to-have or a government recommendation, but mandatory. Yep, mandatory. If you or I were to move into a Swiss house, it would have a bomb shelter in the basement. Not bad, huh?

These aren't just namby-pamby, feel good shelters, they're serious, heavy-duty bunkers. Most Swiss houses are ruggedly constructed from concrete, and this continues in the bomb shelter, with thick, reinforced concrete walls. Thick steel and concrete, vault-style doors. Air-filters. Exactly the kind of thing most surival-minded Americans aspire to--standard in a Swiss home.

In the image below, you can see the big, heavy duty, vault-like door to the shelter.

Another image, the blast door open. Here you can see the locking mechanism and the thick concrete walls. The door is heavy and requires a fair bit of effort to move.

Another image, a close up on the steel hinges. These are solid.

The shelter seals shut with a simple, but rugged and high strength lock. These can be opened from the outside, but the large screw and wrench (see the "door open" image) can be used to lock the shelter from the inside.

The opposite wall of the shelter, where the locks nest to seal it shut.

Finally, an air filter inside the shelter to provide fresh air in case of nuclear, biological, or chemical attack.

These shelters are typically converted to a storage room (this particular shelter is full of stuff), but if well stocked and supplied, a family could be ready to outlast most any attack or natural disaster. And yep, once again, these are standard for Swiss houses.


  1. rhyderstormJanuary 31, 2008

    Would you happen to have the specs on the air filtration unit? Also what is the required/recommended amount of food, water and fuel?

    How many days per a person can the shelter support?

  2. AnonymousJune 11, 2008

    sup peeps, by the way ive no idea...

    not many comments are there? all well i doubt anyone will answer your question lol.

    hehe, cya good ta commnet =]

  3. AnonymousJune 21, 2009

    I live in Switzerland and my home does not have a shelter. So this is really not 100% true. Plus, apart from the concrete shelters, the building materials and construction of homes, which can range from 500 years old to easily 100 years old, are quite out dated and poorly insulated. T

  4. Hey--sorry! This is an older posting and I haven't been keeping track of the comments left here. I have turned on e-mail alerts, so I should get a notification if someone leaves a comment.

    To answer the question posed by Rhyderstorm-

    I don't have any specs on the filtration unit. It was in a rental that I stayed at for a few weeks.

    The owners of the building used the shelter as a storage room for misc basement junk--not really stocked properly. It was a fairly small room, but if stocked properly, could probably support a family (3-5 people).


    I was told that they were mandatory, but apparently this is only true if you're a foreigner. Swiss Citizens can head for the shelter of their local commune--foreigners apparently have to supply their own. I'm not sure how this applies to very old houses--maybe they are exempt from the rule.

  5. Different Anonymous :-)

    The shelters are supposed to be regularly inspected every 4-5 years I think. The laws regarding compulsory build changed in the last few (10) years, and so it is no longer "obligatorisch". The need for "foreigners" to house themselves is also shelved, as far as I know. I never heard that rule before, and I've been here for >10 years.

    My first inspection is tomorrow. All the doors/windows/seals and apparatus will be tested for correct functionality. The filter will be tested against both electrical and manual operation. This means extra room around the filter for the hand crank!

    The "dry toilet" and bunk beds should also be nearby, and easily accessible. When I bought the house, it came with all this. Modern Swiss housing is well insulated, and heated. IMHO there is nothing wrong with Swiss building standards, but then I used to live in the UK! The concrete ceiing of the bomb shelter is at least twice the thickness of the other basement areas!

    So if you store junk, be ready to empty it. We were given several weeks notice, but are only just nearly ready, after I emptied the room and decided to put in a new floor, and ceiling, painting walls etc. Hopefully, I will not be told to remove it all.

    The air filter is a Mengeu Type VA 40. Filtered air would be 40 m^3/hour, and twice that for plain fresh air. It has a couple of seals on it, which are only to be broken in time of war (or perhaps during the inspection). It is designed for 4 people, but we are a family of five. If the bombs come, I'm not too worried about "overcrowding" laws, and I think the Swiss will be rather more busy than needing to worry about me and my kids. In fact my only concern is that the dry toilet quite clearly says it is limited to only 17 uses. How do they check that?