FIRES AND CYCLONES - UNDERGROUND SHELTERS

by Anne
(Nightcliff)

On the question of fire, I have had the experience of coming home from work one day to find my five acre block at Humpty Doo burned out. Another time, with a careful firebreak previously rolled and slow burned, I stood and watched a flying ember from a block on the other side of a wide road land in the centre of mine. Within a few seconds my existing native bush and grasses exploded like a petrol dump.


On cyclones, much to my surprise I actually survived Cyclone Tracy but tend to be traumatised ever since by the sound of wind.

We have known for decades that Darwin is not coded for category 5 cyclones, which are exponentially more damaging than category 4.

The NT Government assures us that we need only go to cyclone shelters “if we feel our cyclone coded homes are not safe”. How would we know? And we know we will not all fit into the public cyclone shelters (which are not code 5 either).

Despite my letters to the editor on such subjects in past years, clear direct warnings about the code issue are not made, nor is it mandatory for building designers to at least provide formal awareness and optional code 5 designs to their clients.

I have been therefore been thinking of designing a modular underground shelter for both fire and cyclone use. Americans shelter underground in tornadoes.

Waterproofing and an adequate oxygen supply would be needed, and for safety the shelter would need to be registered with Emergency Services and neighbours in case trees and debris block exit after the fire or cyclone. An EPIRB system might be handy, as would earplugs and chocolate. The shelter should be buried in the ground well away from buildings so that fires pass over it in a few minutes.

Many lives in the Victorian fires may have been saved by underground shelters.

Such shelters would be good for cold storage of wine and dried food. Irreplaceable items could be stored away there during fire and cyclone seasons for good security while you are at work or away.


Not much to lose, plenty to save.


Anne Hayward, Nightcliff

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Underground shelter for Cyclone
by: Anonymous

We we thinking of building in darwin as well.
my wife went through tracy.
and has panic attacks when certain conditions arise.
we were looking at a prefab concrete building under a 1 mtr Raised house.
would love to chat with others like minded and their options.

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Interested Reader Brisbane:
by: Anonymous

Interested reader Brisbane:
Nov 2013

I am interested in your comments regarding under ground shelters. I have been researching the US market lately as I would love to have a "Safe room/fall out shelter/cyclone/storm/fire/flood shelter" etc to protect from natural and un-natural disasters. I then started looking in the Australian market only to find that no one does them. I actually have some ideas myself but am also wondering if there are any rules or regulations on installing something in your back yard or under a new house or existing house.
love to hear your comments.

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I agree
by: Anonymous

Yes, i agree i use to live in Dariwn and there was a small cyclone last year it wasn't bad just a few trees fell down, but it made me think that we should start building houses that have an underground place just in case lots of other places have them and Darwin is a Typoon city!

Yes lot's of shelters save peoples live from the victoria bushfires too it could of been worse but luckily they were there


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Brisbane shelter
by: Anonymous

My Wife and I totally agree and have been researching underground shelters for a couple of months now. The US has many affordable products but will not sell them to us Mere Aussies as they do not have installers in our region.
The most useable and viable option we have found is the traditional concrete water tank with a hatch but costs still sit above 10 thousand making it not an attractive option to everyone. We persoanlly are considering installing this option in a new house we are building and also using it as a wine cellar in good times.
Amazing that all our frineds about 12 months ago thought we were crazy on the idea of a shelter but have now realised the idea of a shelter in country Brisbane area is an investment that they are even considering.

Would love to hear of anyone elses ideas on shelter designs and manufacturers in Australia. One thing we have pondered on with the design is a decent air source as a cyclone may happen over a long period and stale air is not preferable.


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the Bunker
by: Greg

I am building a deck on the hill behind the house and have incorporated a shelter below it. It will be about two -thirds below ground so that I can have windows and ventilation. I will build in a fresh water tank and plumb it to the shelter. We had Marcia go through in February 2015 and the house was fine but I would like to be prepared for another. Let's hope it is another 30 years before we get one.

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