Survival Gear and Strategies to Survive a NUCLEAR ATTACK. Renewed Cold War threats, global terrorism, make threat of nuclear attack very real today. Building a Fallout Room and Surviving a Nuclear Emergency.
“If you hear a large explosion, don’t run to the window to see what it was — you’ll get shredded by the blast.”
Here are the plain and simple facts. If a nuclear attack ever took place on U.S. soil, you’d want to know about it. Why? Because if you didn’t, that likely means that you were too close.And if you were too close, that means you’re dead.
A nuclear attack is one of the most frightening things that could happen, period.
A Nuclear Explosion Can Kill Millions
Just the explosion alone can wipe out countless numbers of people. Unfortunately, even after the blast nuclear weapons can do damage through something called nuclear fallout.In essence, fallout refers to a process by which the wind carries radioactive materials through the air and people, plants, and wildlife can all be poisoned; in a large dose death can come soon after.
Unfortunately, nuclear fallout can sicken or even kill people in its path.
So, here’s the question. How can one survive a nuclear attack? SecretsofSurvival.com is here to brief you on the basics.
What Can We Do To Prepare For A Nuclear War?
Because ionizing radiation ionizes what it effects, it’s easy to see that a medium like a gas or a voltage could be used to measure the amount of charge liberated in that medium once it is radiated. These are, after all, the most common methods of measuring radiation. The infamous Geiger Counter, for instance, is really nothing more than a small volume of gas with a voltage applied across it. As the radiation enters the gas, it causes electrons to be formed which are collected and measured to determine the amount of initial radiation present.
Another common detection device actually uses the old Glow-In-The-Dark plastics, paints, and watches we all had when we were kids. This process of radiation detection is called scintillation, which is merely using a medium to see the visible light an object gives off after its interaction with radiation.
Another measure of a radiation’s intensity and energy is to somehow collect and use the light given off by the activity. There are in fact many different ways of obtaining such a measurement, using semiconductors, liquids, superheated bubbles, crystals and plastics.
So how would all this help us if a terrorist nuclear detonation occurs in a populated area of the U.S.?
Since a ‘dirty bomb’ would probably be the closest to a nuke a group like al Qaeda would use on U.S. shores (or Britain’s, or perhaps Saudi Arabia’s for that matter — they hate everyone), it would only release radioactivity around the few blocks in which the bomb was detonated. Serious business, but as said earlier, its bark is much bigger than its bite.
You can of course use the detection devices mentioned above to help you determine if there is some radioactivity in your area after a ‘dirty bomb’ attack, or even after a true nuke attack; Geiger counters and Glow-in-the-Dark plastics can be picked up at several stores, at reasonable prices. (If using a ‘ Glow-in-the-Dark’ piece, make sure it’s kept from a direct light source as you make your basic measurement, in order to get a true reading.)
If you care to know more about ‘dirty bombs’, S.O.S. has an extra article on just this subject, since — if we ever suffer some radioactive attack — this type of bomb will be the most likely culprit. Check it out when you have the time.
The answer for the other, much more serious weapon is of course another matter. In the unlikely (but possible) threat of a true nuclear attack, the two main worries consist of the blast itself, and what are called the ‘thermal pulse effects’.
Most of the energy released by a nuclear explosion is in the form of blast and shock; the remaining 35% or thereabouts is in the form of heat.
A readily portable terrorist nuclear bomb, such as the RA-115 backpack nukes reported missing from Russian stockpiles, would — while still very dangerous — only possess a fraction of the power released by a conventional nuke. For instance, the Hiroshima bomb released a power of about 15 kilotons when it exploded above the city; the RA-115 backpack nukes are one kiloton yield each.
Nuclear blast effects, it should be remembered, also drop off quickly with distance. At Hiroshima a brick building survived only 640 feet from ground zero. And less than a mile away a trolley car remained intact and on its tracks.
For concerns of a future attack, the current thinking is that with the continuing trend towards more accurate MIRV’ed (multiple independently targetable, reentry vehicle-d) nuclear weapons, they are now mostly smaller than in the past, averaging on the order of 500 kiloton or less and for submarines only 200 kiloton. Of course, there are now more warheads per missile (4-10) and they are substantially more accurate than during the height of the Cold War.
If a terror organization strikes, we may expect structures dear to the American heart — the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Capitol building — to be hit first.
All buildings will suffer light damage if caught in a shock wave of even 1 psi (per square inch) peak overpressure — shattered windows, doors damaged or blown off hinges and interior partitions cracked. The blast wind from a modern nuke can exceed hurricane velocities above 2 psi.
So how much blast or overpressure is too much to survive? It depends on where you are when it comes charging through, but from a 500 kiloton blast, 2.2 miles away, it’ll be arriving about 8 seconds after the detonation flash. (An even larger 1 megaton blast, but 5 miles away, would give you about 20 seconds.) Like surviving an imminent tornado, utilizing those essential seconds after the initial flash to ‘duck & cover’ could be the difference between life & death for many.
Majority Of Nuke Casualties Are Those Caught In Blast Shock Wave
Being caught in either the overpressure of the blast shock wave or the blast wind are the main causes of casualties and damage.For the man-in-the-open example above (2.2 miles from the detonation of a 500 kiloton air burst), this sharp body slap would produce an immense overpressure that might perforate his eardrums. He would also experience a blast of wind of about 295 mph for about three seconds that would launch him into a probably fatal impact, and would probably also likely suffer injuries from flying missile fragments of glass and debris. It’s like suddenly being in the middle of the strongest tornado that just as quickly fades away.
And as in a tornado, prompt protective actions can make a great difference in one’s survivability, believe it or not. For example, it requires about eight times the blast wind force to move a person who is lying down compared to a standing person. Diving into a ditch, depression, basement or anywhere else normally thought of for tornado protection will improve your odds greatly. You are also much less a target for glass shards and debris missiles. This simple change in position and placement can save many lives. (S.O.S. also has a good article on surviving a tornado; you may wish to look at it as well.)
Then there’s the thermal pulse that accompanies the massive burst. This pulse represents 35% of the energy expended in a nuclear explosion. Burns caused by the heat energy of this fireball will produce the most far-reaching consequences.
For our example above of the man-in-the-open, 2.2 miles from a 500 kiloton air detonation, fatal blast injuries would have served in most cases to put him out of his misery. The thermal pulse, traveling at the speed of light, would have already delivered lethal burns and his clothing would have burst into fire if truly exposed in the open. In fact, about 50% of those fully exposed to the fireball anywhere in the 2 psi or greater range would eventually die from the severity of their burns.
However, if there is fog or haze or any kind of opaque material or structure between people and the oncoming fireball, the effects of the thermal pulse can be greatly reduced. With medium haze it can be cut by 50% and with heavy fog down to even just 10%. Smog in the big cities could actually be partly protective for once.
Also, while it delivers most of its energy within the first second, the larger the bomb the longer it’ll take to deliver its full compliment of thermal energy — up to several seconds for some megaton bombs. Quickly diving behind anything creating a shadow could be lifesaving.
Besides fog, smog, haze or clouds, there are buildings, trees, hills and other objects that would also block and reduce some portion of the thermal pulse. In fact, the more densely built-up an area is, the less likely the inhabitants would be to suffer the full impact of the thermal pulse. Of course, they may still have to deal with the resultant fires, as well as any blast damage.
Bottom Line: The majority of Americans, even in a full-scale all-out nuclear war, would survive the initial blast and thermal effects of nuclear explosions. Even with a large 1 megaton explosion and being as few as 8-10 miles away from ground zero, you would likely find that you had survived the initial thermal, blast and shock wave. With any kind of prompt protective action your odds of surviving at even half that distance are quite high.
It should also be mentioned that with the much smaller yield and resulting blast damage area of a likely terrorist nuclear weapon, your odds of being in the wrong place at the wrong time during the attack are even more remote. In these trying times, that’s something to remember.
How To Survive A Nuclear Attack
Well, the first thing is to not be right there when it occurs. What can you do to make sure that happens? Unfortunately, not a ton. However, if there is an alert for a particular event- say a football game- it might be wise to avoid it. On the other hand, doing so allows the terrorists to win.
Thus, there’s no easy answer in terms of avoidance ( other than really solid homeland security, perhaps ). Still, things should be put in perspective. A nuclear bomb emits such tremendous heat and power that it can literally destroy structures and kill on contact within five miles of detonation ( depending on the power of the bomb ). So, if you’re in the general vicinity when a nuclear bomb or missile detonates, that’s not good.
Now if you’re outside when this occurs and manage to survive, take immediate cover ( inside a structure ). Further, if you get debris on you, wash it off with soap and water as soon as possible.
However, in all likelihood you’ll either be at work or at home if such an occurrence were to take place. Therefore, if you pay heed now, you might have a plan in place when/ if it all breaks down.
Planning in advance of a nuclear attack – Why would you ever want to plan for such a terrible occurrence? For the same reason that you want to be ready for that presentation at work. Preparation oftentimes leads to success, and survival during such a tragic situation is no different. Thus, here are some things to consider. That means having a get home bag and a bug out bag ready to go in whichever of the top survival backpacks you picked. These will allow you a better chance to evacuate the area or to get home quickly and safely if you’re lucky enough to not get caught in the initial blast. Planning for such a catastrophic event requires you to think seriously about prepping – those who aren’t prepared won’t stand a chance in a disaster of this magnitude.
Have you been exposed to radiation in the air carried by the wind and blast? – If you’re still alive and standing, congratulations. That means you’re several miles out from the detonation and your chief concerns first are radiation levels. Have a personal radiation detector (personal responders and even the military carry personal radiation detectors; not all of course, just some, but it’s a smart move anyway for civilians to do the same).
One more step to being prepared for a nuclear attack: A civilian gas mask rated for a nuclear or chemical emergency.
Chain of contact – Know how you are going to contact loved ones ( have a chain of contact ). However, don’t waste time and put yourself in danger in order to simply call someone if the danger is intense and immediate ( perhaps you’re right in the path of everything ). Under such circumstances, you and your loved ones should already know where you’re going. If you’re well prepared, you and your family will have reliable two way radios available and you’ll be able to contact them through this radios.
The Fallout Chamber
Nothing is more important than this in terms of protecting from nuclear fallout. The radiation from nuclear fallout can be dangerous for up to several days after an explosion and can seep through any material. However, it loses it’s negative attributes as it passes through things, so the thicker the wall between you and it the better.Hence, a fallout room.
Building A Fallout Room
A fallout room should be as safe as possible. Further, it would be smart to have this within your own home as it may be dangerous to leave. Thus, if your fallout chamber can be within your home, go with that ( and wait to hear from local emergency authorities ).Regardless, here are some best practices and things to consider when designing/ deciding on a fallout room or chamber ( called such because it’s designed to protect from fallout ).
1. Make sure your fallout room is within a well insulated structure. Bungalows, cabins, trailer homes, and the like don’t tend to fit the bill. Therefore, if you live in one of these it might be prudent to make plans to take shelter with a loved one or friend very close by.
2. Choose the place furthest from the outside walls within your home. Oftentimes, this is the cellar or basement. The greater the distance you are from the radiation, the better.
3. Still, the mere walls of your home may not be enough. You’ll want to shut off openings like windows, etc. In addition, you’ll want to bolster the walls around you with dense materials like bricks, sand, concrete, wood, and even furniture. This is why planning is important.
Further, have these things on hand before the event occurs ( in your fallout chamber ). Along with this, it might be prudent to have a hammer, some nails, and wood housed in your fallout chamber in case building or adding on is required.
Of course, if the extra materials are already built in, you’ll be best off. Thus, you’ll have to decide just how worried you are in advance.
4. All of this said, the fallout room may not be enough ( particularly during the first couple of days after detonation when things are most dangerous ). Thus, you’ll want to build some kind of fallout inner shelter within your fallout room. One way to do this is to use doors reinforced on the outside with sand or another bolstering material. Another option is to hide within a closed off cupboard. Regardless, make sure that you take care to close off openings to this as well. Further, build it so that it won’t fall apart.
However, you should also make sure that it and your fallout room will allow a sufficient amount of oxygen in.
All of this said, the fallout inner shelter within your fallout room may only need to be used for a couple of days. However, you can plan on spending upwards of fourteen days or more in your fallout room. Thus, there are some supplies you should definitely have on hand if such an occurrence were to take place.
Supplies To Have On Hand In Your Fallout Room
1. Have enough food for 14 days. Most people don’t live in downtown areas, which are the most likely places for a terrorist nuclear attack. If you lived downtown, you would need to have a bunker far underground to survive a blast in such close proximity, and then be able to stay down there for up to several weeks, before attempting to exit and flee the area. The reason is because you would be much closer to the site of the detonation, which is where the majority of radiation would be concentrated.In this case, have several weeks of food and water on hand. Though you may have some perishable items on hand, such as those kept in a freezer (that will soon thaw, so eat these frozen foods first), the majority of food should be able to last. Further, you should choose to eat the perishable items first ( obviously ).
2. Have enough water for 14 days, unless you’re in an area that is near a likely strike zone; in this case you’ll want several weeks more. In fact, try to have extra supplies of this on hand ( you’ll almost certainly need to buy jugs of water in advance in order to accomplish this ). Remember, also to cover and secure your food and water. If radioactive dust gets on to it, there’s no real way to get it off.
3. Have a radio and extra batteries as this will be your only real connection to emergency contacts and the outside world. Without this, you won’t know what to do or when to do it. Have a lot more batteries than you think you will need; you can also use these in flashlights and lanterns (see below).
4. Have tin openers, cutlery, bowls, plates, and etc. for obvious reasons.
5. Have warm clothing on hand. Gloves and boots may be especially important in order to protect the outer extremities.
6. Have bedding on hand and a comfortable bed pad or cot (folding cots will take up less space in your fallout room).
7. Have bathroom supply products. Consider knowing where you will toilet in advance. Since you cannot waste water in a toilet- and may not even have one in your fallout room- have buckets, bags for waste, and disinfectants/ cleaners with you as well. It may be smart to have a garbage / dustbin right outside of your fallout room to store human and food waste materials ( consider not putting things out of the room at all until at least two days after the event ).
Additional Tips For Fallout Room Waste Disposal
Invest in a portable 5 gallon toilet.Also invest in several pounds of bulk cat litter. Yes, cat litter.
You see, if there are more than one of you sheltering in your fallout room (perhaps family or friends who live nearby ), it will be important to keep smells to a minimum – which will make the experience of sheltering in place for several days a lot more pleasant than being trapped in a sealed room filled with foul odors.
Imagine the smell of poo and urine in a confined space with no ventilation… Thus the importance of a good waste storage system in your fallout room. The portable 5 gallon toilet mentioned above uses bags under the toilet lid that can be sealed shut and placed in a seperate sealed container (a seperate bucket with a screw top lid, for example, or even a 55 gallon plastic drum, should you be sheltering in place with several people and need a disposal container with much larger capacity).
As a last resort, have Vick’s Vapor Rub ( or a generic brand ) that you can lather on your skin, just below your nostrils, as a way to distract from any possible foul smelling odors.
8. If you have a generator and electricity, have a portable electric stove and pots / pans. However, unless you have a self-powered fallout room with ventilation and recycled air, you should not cook inside as you can die from carbon monoxide poisoning from propane or butane stoves; even candles can be toxic in a room without ventilation; so don’t cook in your fallout room unless you have an electric stove (just a portable single burner is fine). But do you even need to cook? Instead, save on electricity and fuel (supplied by a generator) and eat your food uncooked (that means you need to be stocked with foods that don’t require cooking).
9. Have survival flashlights and one or two lanterns, depending on the size of your shelter and how many people will be inside.
10. Have cloths, brushes, and brooms for cleaning.
11. Have soap on hand with towels.
12. Have a first aid supply kit.
13. And just as important, have things to keep you busy like books, paper, and pens.
14. Finally, have potassium iodide pills on hand. If taken during a nuclear emergency, these pills help protect against a variety of cancers that can result from exposure to nuclear fallout. Better safe than sorry.
In sum, a nuclear attack could happen under several different scenarios. Thus, it’s important to note that dealing with one will take some flexibility. That said, being ready for at least one or two possible scenarios is better than none.
Also remember that the United States has never been attacked in nuclear fashion. Thus, emergency personnel may very well choose to lead us all in a different direction when/ if the time comes. Therefore, it’s important to remember to have that radio on you so that you can follow emergency directives. No article, good, bad, or otherwise will take the place of that.