Shelter or Bug-in-Room Preparation Basics

In this article, we want to discuss what we call a “Bug-in-Room” in our household. It’s a basement room, with a single door, that we plan to assemble in if anything were to go down that would require us to shelter in place. We will go over what we store here, and for some of the more colorful things, we will explain their uses in different scenarios.

Location of your Room

Let’s start with the location of the room you choose to stock as well as feel safe in. Many different types of homes exist but we will try to cover as many as possible.

During most catastrophes or scenarios that would require you to hunker down a basement is your best option in 90% of cases. Some go as far as building bunkers but we haven’t yet found the need of building a full fallout shelter and our basement must make do.

Most basements are at least partially underground and the location that it’s the deepest should be your first choice. This gives you the effects of a bunker without having one due to the block and dirt that will shield you from many things. Basements put you below ground level which would even give you some distance from the dust of fallout that could collect on the ground outside. They also normally have very few ingress/egress options and an enclosed basement room could narrow that down to only one to make it a very secure location.

For an apartment or single-story living a central room on the lowest floor possible. Upper floors make egress harder and can put you in harm’s way. It’s good to put as many walls between you and the outside as possible.



For the room, you have chosen, we suggest doing some simple reinforcement of things. If at all possible replace a standard indoor hollow core door with a metal or clad door. Replace any dummy door knobs with actual outdoor locking knobs. Most indoor locking knobs can be unlocked with a flat-head screwdriver so opt for ones with actual keys.

The highest point of failure will be your door jamb, strike plate, and hinges. Reinforcement of this using door armor or another product is always advised. Adding a deadbolt will reinforce your door even further by providing more connectivity between the door and jamb.

If you are on a tight budget and/or not allowed to make these modifications, a very cheap and effective way to reinforce your doors is to replace the included screws in both the strike plate and hinges. Most included screws for these are 3/4″ to 1″ and are only connected to the edge of your door frame. Adding 3″ security screws will not change the look or function of the doors at all but provide more bite into a stud that would be much harder to breach.


Since windows are normally made of glass and higher security windows are very expensive we suggest not choosing a room with MANY windows. If your windows have a small tab to prevent your window from opening more than a few inches we suggest always having this engaged. A window grate can be great for defense but we always suggest that everyone in the household is trained on how to operate the locking mechanism in case of fire.

In the event of fallout, ash, smoke, or other contaminants windows will be the failure point that would let in those contaminants. Plastic sheeting can be placed over them with duct tape that can prevent those contaminants from entering the room.


The focus on supplies to store in your bug-in room will be much like your regular prepping and first aid supplies but will require a few more creature comforts for an extended stay.


If this room is separate from your regular prepping storage ensure that you have enough food for a minimum 2-week stay. Shelf-stable items that do not require cooking and/or heating are preferred here. Most people require 2000 calories a day but this will be a very sedentary 2 weeks in which you may require fewer calories to make it through. Attempt to stock only things you know you or your family enjoy for morale reasons as well as being able to rotate these supplies later into your regular meals.

  • Canned Foods such as Soups and Stews that can be eaten directly from the can
  • Canned Foods such as Fruit and Cocktails also provide an abundance of liquid
  • Granola Bars, Cereals, Snacks, and Candy
  • MRE that have an included heating element or can be eaten as-is
  • Mylar Bagged, freeze-dried or dehydrated food that can be eaten as-is or rehydrated with water

Each person in your group will need about 1 gallon of water per day. This should all be treated and potable water that can be used for drinking, preparing food, and washing. Store your treated water in food-safe containers that have a spout or other method of easily getting water as needed. For smaller spaces, we suggest camping jugs or food-safe 5-gallon buckets. You can purchase the 3-5 gallon sealed water cooler jugs and a small hand pump or spout as well. If using clear containers store them in a darker area such as a closet or cover them with a tarp/blanket to prevent light.


Sanitary options will be limited in this confined space so it’s smart to make yourself as comfortable as possible when business needs to be done. Be sure to stock up on the following.

  • 5-gallon bucket with a removable lid
  • Pool Noodle (slice long ways and fit around bucket rim) or Bucket Seat attachment
  • Toilet Paper
  • Sanitary Wipes
  • Feminine Supplies
  • Tooth Brushes and Tooth Paste
  • Wash Rags and Towels
  • Soap
  • Wash Bucket or Pan


This section will be a catch-all for various things that may or not be needed but are good to have. Since every situation is different we will try to explain some use cases that are not obvious.

  • Thick Plastic Sheeting (sealing windows)
  • Duct Tape (sealing windows, cracks around doors, repairing items)
  • Radio with Emergency Band (entertainment and information)
  • Flashlight(s)
  • Extra Batteries (for all electronic devices)
  • Charged Battery Banks (for charging your phone or tablet)
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Pillows
  • Extra Clothing
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Multi-Tool
  • Small Tool Kit (things tend to break at the least opportune time)
  • Paper Plates and Paper Bowls (conserve water by not having to wash)
  • Plastic Cups (conserve water by not having to wash)
  • Plastic Utensils (conserve water by not having to wash)

First Aid

Most standard first aid kits will be fine in a pinch here but we do have some suggestions of things that could be added that aren’t included in most. We will again explain some of the reasoning behind some of these.

  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (has many uses but mainly for sanitizing purposes or cleaning wounds)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (can be used as a mouthwash and for cleaning wounds)
  • Potassium Iodide (KI) (protects the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine by the thyroid)
  • Tourniquet (to prevent blood loss in case of a more grievous injury)
  • Chest Seal Dressing (mainly used for puncture or bullet wounds)
  • Suture Staple Tool or Suture Kit (for deeper and longer cuts that require closing)
  • Extra Doses of your Medicine (2-week supply)
  • Antibiotics (ask your doctor for a survival supply or purchase something like a JaseCase)
    • These can cover anything from a toothache, infection, pneumonia, or even Anthrax

Entertainment/Morale Support

Last on our list is entertainment and things to support your morale during these trying times. This is especially so if you have kids which are notorious for short attention spans and the need to burn pent-up energy.


While each situation can be different we hope to have covered all of our bases when it comes to basic preparedness for your bug-in room. As a living article, we hope to adjust and add to these lists to ensure we fill any further gaps we find. Leave us a comment if you find anything we may have missed and happy prepping!

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