In many cases and in disaster experts’ speculations the reasons why people do not survive a disaster is because people are uninformed and unprepared. Since the Atomic Age is over, schools no longer teach children about the threat of a nuclear bomb and how to protect themselves from a nuclear attack. In fact, most people I know in my generation (late 30s) grew up believing the threat was over. But we never thought a group of militant extremists would fly 767s into the World Trade Center either.
Unbelievably, if you arm yourself with knowledge and add a few extra items to your prep gear, you more than likely will survive a nuclear bomb. Unless you happen to be at Ground Zero when the bomb detonates. At that point, you’ll be toast. The Planning Guidance for Response to Nuclear Detonation says that if you are “close to the fireball, the thermal energy is so intense that infrastructure and humans are incinerated. Immediate lethality would be 100% in close proximity.” Ground Zero can be as far away as half a mile from the explosion. If you happen to be far enough underground in a cement or brick structure, you might survive, but what is the likelihood of that? We must remember that terrorists or a country that wants to obliterate America will not attack when it is convenient for you. They will attack when they can target the most people; densely populated areas such as big cities, large gatherings, and when people are out the most—morning and evening commutes.
We have five countries called Nuclear Weapon States that have all built and tested nuclear bombs. These countries, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1968. Other countries that do not have nuclear capabilities have signed the treaty as well. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is an agreement to disarm the nuclear weapons of the Nuclear Weapon States. However, the United States reported in 2011 that we still have 5,113 nuclear weapons stockpiled.
India, Pakistan, and North Korea have nuclear weapons, but refused to sign the treaty. Further, experts suspect that Iran and Syria have nuclear weapons as well.
On July 16, 1945, the United States performed the first successful testing of the atom bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico at 5:29 in the morning. Not even a month later, we dropped two nuclear 12 to 20 kiloton bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was the first and last time any country has used a nuclear weapon against another country. The results were devastating. Half of Hiroshima’s population died from the bomb, with estimates of around 80,000 dying instantly. A bomb of this size can cause fatal burns up to 25 miles away. What’s frightening is that we know Russia has had 550-kiloton nuclear bombs.
In all nuclear preparation information, including the United States government fact and preparation sheets, experts plan for a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb. Since that seems to be about average, I will also assume the bomb you prep for will be of this size.
A 10-kiloton bomb is survivable from about a mile away from the blast. I’m going to speculate no advance warning if the United States is bombed with a nuclear weapon so you will have no time to prepare. The first indication of a nuclear bomb is a very intense light that is brighter than the sun. This light can cause temporary or permanent blindness. The thermal blast from the bomb will follow just seconds after the flash of light. The heat released from a nuclear bomb is millions of degrees. It is so hot that it turns matter into plasma. Seconds after that, the blast wave will hit. This will be a cloud of dust and debris and will be very loud.
One mile away from the detonation there will be significant structural damage and fires. Power and water lines will be down. Possibly severe bodily injury and death will occur if you are outside. As we saw on 9/11, visibility will be low to zero due to all the dust, smoke, and debris.
From three miles away, after seeing the light, you should have enough time to find shelter.
If you survive the initial explosion, the most important thing to do is seek substantial shelter and remain there. The destruction isn’t over. Next to come is the fallout from the bomb. Fallout and gamma rays can be potentially deadly even up to 26 miles away from Ground Zero. Fallout is the radioactive particles from the bomb that fall back down from the sky.
The best shelter is a cement or brick underground bunker, parking garage, tunnel, or basement. If you are stuck in a high-rise building, move to the core of the building and try to pick a space or an office in the internal part of the building, preferably without windows. A one-story wood structure offers little protection from fallout and gamma rays. If that is all you have, move into an internal area of the house, and build extra “walls” against the doorways and windows. Sand bags or wood, if that is all you have, are better than nothing to cover doorways and windows. Seal off all airways in the room including vents.
The worst of the fallout will be visible, about the size of sand and will come within a 24-hour period. You should plan to hole up for at least 24 hours, if not 72 hours. Do not expect federal response for this same amount of time. Fallout decreases with time and it is best to wait it out if you can.
If you must leave, you have to protect yourself from the fallout. Cover yourself completely with long sleeves and a facemask. Shed your outer laying of clothing before reentering your safety location. Put the clothing into a plastic bag and keep the bag away from people and animals.
Going outside means you are contaminated. Wash your body and hair with soap and if you have a way, use a scrub brush. Blow your nose and be careful to wipe down around your eyes, lips, and ears.
After three days, the fallout will have stopped actually falling and will have lost 90% of its potency.
Besides stocking food and water, add the following to your bug-in gear list:
- Emergency radio
- First aid kit and a way to treat burns
- Duct tape
- Plastic sheeting or garbage bags
- A long sleeve shirt and pants
- Emergency ponchos
- Dust and gas masks
- Emergency toilet
- Hot water heater
- Sand bags
- Radiation detection unit
- Potassium iodide tablets
If you aren’t in the middle of Ground Zero when the bomb goes off, you have armed yourself with knowledge. Add a few extra items to your bug-in and bug-out bags, you have a 90% chance of surviving a nuclear bomb.
Have you already prepped for a nuclear disaster? If so, how? Tell me about it!