Not your father's bomb shelter: Interest in terrorist-proof housing grows

With Osama bin Laden releasing a new audio reportedly threatening still more terrorist attacks directed at the U.S., I thought this might be a good time to take a look at a very interesting specialty market: terrorist-proof homes, also known as "hardened homes" or structures.

"These facilities are designed with independent sources of power and water and typically incorporate a substantial underground component," explains the website for a Virgina Beach, Virginia company called Hardened Structures/Hardened Shelters. "They can serve as your primary dwelling, vacation homes, corporate retreat, long term shelter or expanded multi-function compound."

Fear has always been a great sales pitch in this country. At the height of the cold-war in the late '50s through the mid-'60s, there was a booming business in this country for fall-out shelters. Most were pretty crude, though.

Not so these 2010 facilities.

Hardened Structures claims to use guidelines and design standards that are set up by just about every U.S. agency from the Department of Defense to the Department of Homeland Security.

"Stated simply, " says the company's sales promotional, "a Hardened Structure is where you go when external forces are threatening your life ... Terrorism is real ... The unyielding, tenacious and patient nature of the terrorists targeting our country requires us to plan, design and build facilities that deter and mitigate their efforts."

New emphasis on "terrorist-proof" buildings

In the U.K., the emphasis isn't so much on the building of individual terrorist-resistant fortresses, but on how to build high rises, shopping malls and other public structures to better withstand terrorist attacks: Less use of all glass panel exteriors and better construction methods to stand up to explosive forces among some of the things being pushed by various British government officials.

But here, in the U.S., as usual, the attitude seems to be "every man (and woman) for him (her) self," which is where these special construction companies come in.

A Delaware based security company says "in light of world developments concerning terrorism and the general security of both individuals and governments," it has "narrowed" its focus to "security-relevant services and sales."

Saying it can build to any specification, this company claims its products and services are "for people who understand the need for such facilities." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but one can imagine.

They say they can either clean up and modify for your use "existing deactivated, privately-owned, missile silos and bunkers," or can "design from scratch a new facility budgeted at any price point that suits your tastes."

Some of the nifty things you can equip your terrorist -proof "home" or bunker with include: emergency food growing facilities and storage; air scrubbers; electric generation by hydroelectric, solar, diesel, natural gas,and more; and, of course, a variety of water filtration systems.

Who would have thought: 2010 is the new 1955.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think, The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle."

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