Every shelter owner should prepare a checklist of items for shelter use. Supplies required are specific to the shelter application and occupants. Below are some checklist suggestions adapted from Principles of Protection Appendix E. NORAD does NOT supply food or water with its shelters, but we can help you understand how to acquire what you will need.


During and immediately after an NBC conflict, foods such as milk, fruit, and meat will be unavailable. Chickens, however, have a great tolerance for radiation, and fresh eggs will therefore be one of the first staples available after a nuclear conflict. This unavailability of certain food items, however, is no great problem because the human protein requirement can be supplied by powdered milk, soybeans, navy beans, wheat flour, and peanut butter, which all store well in underground shelters.


  • All food, cans, plastic jars, or packages should be labeled and dated.
  • Food should be rotated either by the month or year, depending on the individual preference and food types.
  • Shelter food should be familiar food. Do not use C-rations.
  • Once a food container is opened, it should be consumed within twenty-four hours, except for dry foods like wheat flour, powdered milk, and so on.
  • Because there is little physical activity while living in a shelter, the rate of metabolism will be considerably lower, and only about l,500 calories per day will be required. The amount of time spent inside a shelter compared to the amount of time that will be spent outside the shelter after radioactivity levels lower to acceptable levels is much shorter, so food supplies should be based on a fully active person. Therefore, shelterists must plan for one quart or thirty ounces of food per person per day. This is three hundred and sixty one-quart canning jars per person per year.
  • Glass canning jars are acceptable to use in fallout shelters. In blast shelters, there should always be cardboard partitions between jars on all four sides and on the bottom to avoid breakage from ground shock and from earthquakes, tremors, and tornado vibrations. In areas where shelters are closer than ten miles from targets, glass materials should be avoided unless very well packed with foam padding. Metal cans are the best for storing food in blast shelters. There are some polypropylene plastic mason jars available that can be sterilized up to 250°F just like glass jars, except that these jars are not recommended for food storage longer than two to three months. Caution: Do not leave anything loose inside a shelter, especially canned foods, because the overpressure transmitted into and through the ground in areas close to ground zero may turn loose articles into projectiles inside the shelter even though the shelter itself is not damaged.


If metal cans are used to store food, the ends can be cut out with a can opener and the can collapsed and placed in a plastic garbage bag. The garbage bag can be stored in the entrance tube of the shelter and taken outside the shelter every week or two. The sink filter, if the shelter is equipped with one, can also be removed every second or third day and placed in the plastic garbage bag. Glass or plastic jars can be cleaned and returned to the food storage shelf. The shopping list below is provided to give some idea of food quantities in various categories. The term “wet” refers to the amount of food with water added according to the manufacturer. The term “dry” refers to just the dry weight of the product without water added. The columns on the right side allow individual tailoring of the diet with the foods listed on the left being suggestions or memory triggers.


One Month Supply at 2,600 cal/person/day


  • Canned Beef Stew
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Baked Beans
  • Chicken and Noodles
  • Chicken Stew
  • Tuna Fish
  • Peanut Butter
  • Ham

SOUPS, 2 gal. (wet)

  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Bean and Bacon Soup
  • Lentil Soup
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Mushroom Soup
  • Pea Soup
  • Tomato Soup
  • Beef Noodle

CEREALS, 32 oz. (dry)

  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Wheat Germ
  • Grape Nuts
  • Natural Cereal
  • Pancake Mix

BEVERAGES, 4 gal. (wet)

  • Coffee/tea
  • Cocoa
  • Milk
  • Prune Juice
  • Fruit Juices
  • Vegetable Juice


  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Spinach
  • Tomato Sauce

FRUITS, 256 oz.

  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Applesauce
  • Pineapple
  • Fruit Cocktail
  • Apricots

SWEETS, 32 oz.

  • Candy Bars
  • Protein Bars
  • Jellies and Jams
  • Puddings
  • Honey
  • Syrups
  • Molasses


  • Seasonings
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Popcorn

STAPLES, 128 oz.

  • Crackers
  • Canned Bread
  • Nuts

STARCHES, 32 oz.

  • Instant Potatoes
  • Noodles
  • Rice


  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Multiple Vitamins


  • Unbreakable Plates
  • Unbreakable Bowls
  • Unbreakable Cups
  • Unbreakable Glasses
  • Small Pots and Pans
  • Mirror
  • Forks
  • Knives
  • Spoons
  • Salt/Pepper Shaker
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Can Opener (two)
  • Funnel
  • Dish Detergent
  • Dish Brushes—no sponges
  • Hot Pad Holders
  • Napkins (paper/cloth)
  • Ninety Sink Filters
  • Carving Knife/Fork
  • Measuring Cup and Spoons
  • Stove
  • Wash Sink
  • Disinfectant


  • Toilet Paper
  • Soap
  • Counter Brushes
  • Lip Ice
  • Lotion
  • Hair Pins
  • Combs/Brushes
  • Shaving Cream
  • Razors
  • Nail File
  • Deodorants
  • Shampoo
  • Dental Floss
  • Toilet Bowl Soap
  • Toilet Chemical
  • Toilet Brush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tooth Brushes
  • Sanitary Napkins/Tampax
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Garbage Bags
  • Aspirin/Tylenol
  • Thermometer
  • Enema
  • Band-Aids
  • Antacid Tablets
  • Laxative
  • Burn Ointment
  • Toothache Drops
  • Styptic Stick
  • Eye Drops
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Nail Clippers
  • Baby Washcloths
  • Body Bags


Once in the shelter, it may be necessary to leave the shelter for a few minutes in an extreme emergency; a pair of overalls or paper jump suits should be stored for this purpose. The jump suit can be discarded outside of the shelter. Because the level of physical activity is restricted inside a shelter, thought should be given to the type of shoes that one will wear. Sneakers or a soft, gum sole shoe would be the best choice for inside the shelter. A medium to high shoe such as a work shoe or cowboy boot may be the best type of footwear for outside the shelter when radioactivity levels are down to acceptable levels. One-piece type of construction in a shoe would be a great advantage. Special consideration should be given to children’s shoes because they grow out of them so fast. In this case, a number of shoes can be stored in ascending sizes for the children of the family. Heavy socks can also be worn to make up for some of the extra room in the larger sizes. A two- to-three year supply of clothing should be stored in the shelter. Choose clothing based on function rather than appearance. Children’s clothing poses the greatest problem because the children grow out of clothes so quickly. Therefore, store children’s clothing that is too big for the children to wear at the present time.

  • Undershirts
  • Underpants
  • Socks
  • Shirts
  • Pajamas
  • Hats
  • Pants
  • Coats and Raincoats
  • Gloves
  • Scarfs
  • Belts
  • Overalls
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Mattresses
  • Boots
  • Shoes
  • Sweaters
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Brassieres
  • Diapers
  • Pillows


  • Can Opener
  • Large Blade Screwdriver
  • Small Blade Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Nylon Cord
  • Batteries (radio, flashlight)
  • Flashlights
  • Radio
  • Flat Bar
  • Clock (spring wound)
  • Chisel
  • Open End Wrenches
  • Crescent Wrench
  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Fiberglass Patch Kit
  • Duct Tape
  • Collapsible Chairs
  • Sewing Thread
  • Sewing Needles
  • Thimble
  • Patches, Buttons, Zippers
  • Air Filters
  • Water Filters
  • Sink Filters
  • Lamp Mantles
  • Survey Meter
  • Dosimeter
  • Lamps
  • Lamp Wicks
  • Electrical Wire
  • Broom


  • Cards
  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Games
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Calendar
  • Children’s Toys/Books
  • Special Books
  • Shelterist’s Professional Books
  • Gardening/Farming Books
  • Medical Books
  • Construction Books
  • Automobile Mechanics Books
  • Bible
  • Principles of Protection
  • Public Health/Medicine
  • Cookbooks
  • Shelter Owner’s Manual
  • Baby Books
  • Children’s School Books
  • Portable Tape/CD Player
  • Craft Supplies
  • Model Kits
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Music

Note: After emerging from shelters, shelterists will probably be able to procure most supplies at local stores outside of the severe impact area.