What would you do to survive if nuclear war broke out tomorrow? You’re not alone if you’re worried as you scroll through your feed or watch the news. Experts say the risk of all-out nuclear war is unlikely, but knowing what to expect can give you peace of mind and keep you safe. Here are the facts: No one knows exactly what would happen in the case of a large-scale nuclear war.
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However, you can still take steps to prepare for nuclear attacks on a smaller scale. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to prepare and survive—in the days, hours, minutes, and seconds before and after a nuclear attack.
In this blog post, I'll discuss everything from the basics of nuclear warfare, how to build your own underground shelter to more advanced topics like radiation poisoning. So whether you're just curious about nuclear warfare or you want to be prepared should it ever happen, this blog post is for you!
Let's start with the basics.
What is nuclear warfare?
Nuclear warfare refers to the use of nuclear weapons in combat. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons ever created, and their use can result in catastrophic consequences, including massive loss of life, widespread destruction, and long-lasting environmental damage.
The history of nuclear warfare dates back to World War II when the United States used nuclear weapons against Japan. Since then, there have been numerous close calls and tensions between nations with nuclear weapons. Currently, the world is facing a rising threat of nuclear warfare due to ongoing conflicts and nuclear weapons testing.
The potential consequences of a nuclear war are severe and far-reaching. The immediate impact would be the loss of life and infrastructure damage caused by the nuclear explosions. The radiation released from these explosions would also have long-term effects on the environment and human health, causing cancer, genetic mutations, and other health problems. Additionally, the global economy would be severely impacted, and it could take decades for countries to recover from a nuclear war.
Efforts to prevent nuclear war are ongoing and are critical to global peace and security. The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs is responsible for promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, while the International Atomic Energy Agency is responsible for monitoring and verifying the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Additionally, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for ensuring that nuclear facilities in the United States operate safely.
Remember you can always search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a ZIP code to 43362. Example: Shelter 01234 (standard rates apply).
These weapons are capable of causing immense destruction and loss of life, making them some of the most powerful weapons in the world. In a nuclear attack, a nuclear bomb is detonated either in the air or on the ground, resulting in a devastating explosion.
Will you get a warning if a nuclear attack is underway?
The answer is maybe...
If you're ever faced with a nuclear attack, your first priority should be to seek shelter. You will generally only have about 5 minutes to get to safety.
This means finding a place where you can take cover and protect yourself from the blast and radiation. The best place to seek shelter is an underground area, such as a basement or tunnel.
Step 1. Seek shelter immediately.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the first warnings of an imminent nuclear attack will likely be an alarm or warning signal, or in the absence of a warning, the blast itself. The bright light from a detonation of a nuclear weapon can be seen tens of miles away from ground zero. Surviving the blast is almost impossible if you are in the vicinity of ground zero, unless you are in a shelter that provides excellent blast protection. Even if you are a few miles out, you will only have about 10-15 seconds until the heat wave hits you, followed by the shock wave in 20-30 seconds. It is crucial not to look directly at the fireball, as this can cause temporary blindness at large distances on a clear day. The actual damage radius is highly variable, depending on the size of the bomb, the altitude of the explosion, and even the weather conditions at the time of the blast.
For more information on preparing for a nuclear attack, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers helpful tips on their website: https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-blast.
- If you can't find shelter, seek a depressed area nearby and lay face down, exposing as little skin as possible. If there is no shelter of this kind, dig as fast as possible. Even around 8 kilometers (5 miles) you will suffer third degree thermal-burns; still at 32 kilometers (20 miles) the heat can burn the skin off your body. The wind itself will peak at around 960 kilometers per hour (600mph) and will level anything or anybody caught in the open.
- Failing the above options, get indoors, if, and only if, you can be sure that the building will not suffer significant blast and heat damage. This will, at least, provide some protection against radiation. Whether this will be a viable option depends on the construction of the building and how close you will be to the likely ground zero of a nuclear strike. Stay well away from any windows, preferably in a room without one; even if the building does not suffer substantial damage, a nuclear explosion will blow out windows at enormous distances. For an example, one (albeit abnormally large) nuclear test in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in Russia was known to knock out windows in Finland and Sweden.
- If residing in Switzerland or Finland, check if your home has an atomic shelter. If not, determine where your village/town/district atomic shelter is and know how to get there. Remember: anywhere in Switzerland, you'll be able to find an atomic shelter. When the sirens sound in Switzerland, you are advised to inform those who may not be able to hear it (e.g. the deaf) and then listen to the National Radio Services (RSR, DRS and/or RTSI).
- Don't be surrounded by anything flammable or combustible. Substances like nylon or any oil based material will ignite from the heat.
2. Remember that radiation exposure could cause large numbers of deaths.
Initial (prompt) radiation. This is radiation released at the moment of detonation, and it is short-lived and travels short distances. With the large yields of modern nuclear weapons, it is thought that this will kill few who would not be killed by the blast or heat at the same distance.
Residual radiation. Known as radiation fallout. If the detonation was a surface blast or the bomb hits the earth, large amounts of fallout are produced. The dust and debris kicked into the atmosphere rains down, bringing with it dangerous amounts of radiation. The fallout may rain down as contaminated black soot known as "black rain," which is very fatal and may be of extreme temperature.
Fallout will contaminate anything it touches.
- Once you have survived the blast and the initial radiation (for now at least; radiation symptoms have an incubation period), you must find protection against fallout.
3. Know the three different types of radiation:
- Alpha particles. These consist of 2 protons and 2 neutrons (a helium nucleus) ejected at high speed from the nucleus of a decaying atom. Alpha particles are stopped by the outer layer of your skin or a few centimeters of air. They present a minimal threat outside your body. However, alpha-emitting materials can do serious damage if ingested or inhaled.
- Beta particles: These consist of a high-speed electron, again ejected from the nucleus of a decaying atom. They are more penetrating than alpha particles and may cause "Beta burns" if materials are in direct contact with the skin for prolonged periods of time. These burns are similar to sunburn.
- Gamma rays: Gamma rays are the most penetrating of the three main types of radiation. They will penetrate any kind of clothing and requires large masses of materials for shielding. Therefore gamma radiation will cause severe damage to the body even when outside the body.
- A shelter's PF against radiation will tell you how many times less a person inside the shelter will receive radiation compared to open space. For example, PF 300 means that you will receive 300 times less radiation in the shelter than in the open.
- Avoid exposure to Gamma radiation. Try not to spend more than 5 minutes exposed.
4. Begin reinforcing your shelter from the inside by stacking dirt around the walls or anything else you can find.
As a survival expert, it's crucial to know how to protect yourself from radiation in case of a disaster. One effective method is to reinforce your shelter from the inside by stacking materials like dirt or anything else you can find around the walls.
If you're in a trench, it's essential to create a roof, but only if materials are nearby. To prevent fallout debris from piling on you, use canvas from a parachute or tent. However, it's impossible to completely shield yourself from all radiation; it can only be reduced to a tolerable level. To determine the amount of material you need to reduce radiation penetration to 1/1000, use the following measurements: Steel: 21 cm (0.7 feet), Rock: 70-100 cm (2-3 ft), Concrete: 66 cm (2.2 ft), Wood: 2.6 m (8.8 ft), Soil: 1 m (3.3 ft), Ice: 2 m (6.6 ft), Snow: 6 m (20-22 ft). So, be prepared and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from radiation.
- Steel: 21 cm (0.7 feet)
- Rock: 70-100 cm (2-3 ft)
- Concrete: 66 cm (2.2 ft)
- Wood: 2.6 m (8.8 ft)
- Soil: 1 m (3.3 ft)
- Ice: 2 m (6.6 ft)
- Snow: 6 m (20-22 ft)
If you don't have access to an underground area, try to find a sturdy building and get as close to the center of it as possible.
5. Plan on staying in your shelter for a minimum of 48 hours (2 days).
Under no circumstances leave the shelter in the first forty-eight hours.
- The reason for this is to avoid the "fission products" created by a nuclear blast.
- The other major products of nuclear fission are Cesium and Strontium. These have longer half lives of 30 years and 28 years respectively. They also are very well absorbed by living things and can make food products dangerous for decades. These materials can be carried by the wind thousands of miles, so if think you are safe in a remote area, you are not.