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How to survive a nuclear attack

Many people are talking about the increased possibility of a nuclear attack. Here’s what I learned about how to survive such an attack and what we can do to prepare for one after a few hours of research. 

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Nuclear bombs can be deployed in many ways such as from a missile from an enemy country or even in the back of a van driven into a populated area. 

Distances in which you will be safe will depend on various factors such as size of the blast and the amount of material between you and the bomb. With a ten kiloton nuclear bomb, all organic matter (that’s you) will be vaporized instantly, wood structures will be incinerated, and glass will melt within 1/4 mile of the blast. 

At 1 mile out you will be able to survive it. If you do see a distant extremely bright source of light, turn away instantly, close your eyes, lay down on the ground and cover your head. The flash of a nuclear blast is brighter than the sun (can cause temporary blindness if you are looking at it) and emits a 10 million degree pulse of heat called a thermal pulse. Fires will still start and buildings will be destroyed 1 mile away from the blast. The flash of light and thermal pulse will travel quickly and hit you first, shortly after that will be the shock wave. Continue to lay on the ground covering your head, cover as much exposed skin as you can to prevent radiation burns, and keep your mouth open to prevent the shock wave from blowing out your eardrums and lungs. Get as low as you can. The shock wave will feel like a freight train going over you.

At 3 miles out, it will take about 20 seconds for the shock wave to reach you after you see the initial blast. If you are driving, pull over and get down low. After the shock wave passes, you have about 20 minutes before fallout starts raining down. Fallout is the powdered pieces of buildings, and everything caught up in the explosion of the blast combined with radioactive material from the bomb which is sent in the iconic mushroom cloud up into the atmosphere.  This 20 minute window is critical to find where you are going to be spending the next days sheltering in place. Common injuries you and others around you may be experiencing after a blast are burns, lacerations, broken bones, head wounds, people passed out, and car accidents. Quickly cover any open wounds and stop the bleeding, if fallout touches a wound it will enter your bloodstream and that could be fatal. Remember, you only have 20 minutes to find shelter, so do not stay and help all the wounded around you or you may leave yourself vulnerable. 

You are responsible for your life. Seconds after an explosion, satellites will pick it up and alert the pentagon and the president who will put the country into Def-con 1 (the highest state of alert) maximum military and local response will take place to assist in your area if the entire nation isn’t going through the same thing you are, but that will take time. You are on your own for the short term (at least 72 hours), possible long term (never receiving help).

When looking for a shelter, look out for downed power lines, derbies in the road, buildings on the verge of collapse, fires, and other dangers. Move quickly but be aware. Vehicles, computers, cell phones, and other electronics within a 3 mile radius of the blast may be wiped by the electric magnetic pulse (EMP) that is caused when the nuclear bomb ionizes the surrounding air. If you are miles away from the blast and have the ability to escape the fallout, figure out which direction the wind is blowing and travel perpendicular to that. 

A standard wood framed house will only stop 30-60% of the fallout, a well sealed basement will block 90%. Try going to dense concrete or metal buildings when searching for a shelter. When entering a building that you are going to bunker down in, remove outer layers of clothing that might have come in contact with the radioactive dust. Use any water you have to rinse off hair and exposed skin. Fallout emits radiation in three ways, alpha, beta, and gamma rays. Alpha and beta are weak and are dangerous when inhaled or on your skin. Gamma rays are the scary ones that travel through flesh damaging cells and causing cancers. The only way to stop gamma rays is to put as much solid material between the fallout and yourself. Head to the center and or basement of whatever building you are in to create as much material between yourself and the radiation. If the building you are in doesn’t have a basement, go up as many floors as you can to get away from the radiation that will land on the ground, but keep at least two floors above you from the radiation that settles on the roof. (Example, go to the 10th floor in a 12 story building) Use plastic, tape, newspaper, or clothing to seal off as many air gaps of the door and the room you are in to prevent radioactive dust from entering the area. Within the room that you have dedicated to be your shelter, place as many pieces of furniture, books, boxes, and material along the walls. 

If you get exposed to radiation for too long you will develop radiation sickness or die. Radiation damages cells that are normally dividing to make more cells and keep you alive, when they are damaged they may not divide properly and you will feel sick. If the cells can’t figure out how to start working again and dividing you will die. Some of the symptoms of radiation sickness include becoming nauseated, vomiting, or swelling from damaged blood vessels. 

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Fallout loses 90% of it’s potency after 3 days, so be prepared to shelter in place for at least that long. Have enough water and food for that time. An emergency radio is helpful to know when rescue teams are nearby and when it is safe to go outside. When it is time to leave the bunker, again cover up any exposed skin you can, wear a cloth or even better a N95/N100 mask to prevent inhalation. 

What are iodine pills that prepping groups talk about and do I need it?

When a nuclear blast goes off, radioactive iodine is released which can be inhaled or absorbed in our food and water. The body can’t tell between radioactive iodine and safe iodine so it will absorb whatever kind it can. Potassium iodide pills can be taken which will flood the body with iodine and accumulate in the thyroid gland. The concentration of this pill is so high that the entire thyroid gland will be saturated and unable to absorb any more radioactive iodine. So if you have these pills, take them ASAP after the nuclear blast to prevent your thyroid gland from absorbing the bad stuff. 

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Educational website:

Check out the Nuke Map https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ and see how large an explosion near you could be. 

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Will YOU ever have to worry about this and implement these steps? 

My thought is it is incredibly unlikely and you probably won’t. But hopefully you have learned a trick or two from this post that will save your life. My greatest realization was that you have 20 minutes after the blast for the real nasty stuff to start coming down. That is more warning than many other disasters such as an earthquake or tornado. 

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  • Comments (104)

    • 6

      Awesome research and article Robert! A fact that was new to me was that 90% of the radiation has worn out after three days. That’s very good news.

      Can I share some related articles from The Prepared that will complement this discussion?

    • 4

      Great info.

      Just posted this on another thread but I’ll spam it here too:

      Nuclear War Survival Skills

      Upshot (in case you need to act within the next 3 minutes) is to avoid radiation fallout through time, distance, shielding.

      Time means avoid contact for as long as possible to allow decay in radioactivity, at least a week or 2 if you are in a direct line of fallout or you hear/see many detonations or they are very near.

      Distance means staying away from fallout as far as possible. Across the country would be preferable, but even additional feet are important because radiation is like light and intensity falls off at the square of distance. 

      Shielding means putting something between you and radioactive fallout wood is at least something, plaster better, cinder blocks better yet, multiple feet of dirt moreso, solid concrete or lead of course is best

      I would try for the most possible of all 3 tactics. Head low in my basement and stay for 2 weeks. Think about fallout as what it is, dust raised by a near ground level blast. It falls primarily on horizontal surfaces, the ground, trees, your roof. Staying low in the basement gives earth shielding as long as you keep your head down below ground level (the most dirt shielding) or behind the foundation wall. Stay in the area with the largest distance to the roof— 20 feet away the intensity of radiation is 4 times less than if you are 10 feet away.

      After 2 weeks, resurface and rebuild society in my own image. Sorry, apocalyptic humor there.

    • 4

      very interesting article. i live in brussels, which is home to nato hq and the european commission. i have never felt like i was in any danger of a nuclear war. as a matter of fact, I have used regularly theprepared.com as a very useful guide to pack my travel gear, first as a backpacker visiting the world and lately (since covid) as my gf, dog and i have discovered camping in a tent. thank you, all the contributors who have helped me choose the best items and pack. But, since crazy people have started bombing the biggest nuclear plant in the Europe in Ukraine, i find myself thinking, not about nuclear war, but more about a second Chernobyl. if, and let’s hope not, there was an big or small accident and wind went west, how long should someone be camping in his basement? how would one know when to emerge? and if you have to stay warm but at the same time block the chimney, what is the alternative without asfixiating yourself in the process? there are many questions i haven’t even thought of and would appreciate some guidance in that respect. thank you.

      • 4

        Richard, I am no expert. I can only tell you what I plan to do, based on what I have read on this website, based on other reputable websites, and based on my thoughts and ideas.

        I plan to stay in the basement for one to two weeks. If I lack information about the risk, I will probably stay two weeks.

        I do not expect to have any heat source if there is no electricity. If there is electricity, I will plug in a “space heater.” If there is no electricity, it will be cold, so I will need warm clothes and blankets.

        My house does not have a chimney. I would hope to turn off the natural gas furnace so that it doesn’t forcefully take in air from outdoors. The entrance to my basement is from outdoors, like an old-fashioned root cellar. I will use duct tape and plastic to seal off the entrance, using at least two panels of plastic with separation between the panels.

        To get fresh air to breath, I will use a flexible tube long enough to extend up the cellar stairs, past the cellar door. The cellar door will have to be cracked to allow the tube through. 

        It’s not ideal, but it’s the best solution I can think of using materials on hand. I welcome comments from any readers.

        Richard, I wish you and your loved ones the very best in these uncertain times.

      • 3

        I thought of a better solution for fresh air if I am in the basement. My home is not air tight, so outside air will be infiltrating inside through gaps around doors. All I need to do is reach the upstairs air from the basement. (As I mentioned, the entrance to my basement is from outside, not from inside the house.)

        HVAC duct cleaning openingI can uncap the holes in ducts made by the HVAC duct cleaning company. I won’t have to run a flexible tube from the basement up the steps and have the basement entrance door cracked after all.

      • 1

        Wouldnt you need to seal all those cracks so air with fallout couldn’t get through? With tarps and duct tape, maybe just duct tape?

      • 1

        Hi, Cia. In my scenario of staying in the basement for a week or two, I will need outside air, even if it contains fallout. I don’t see a way around it. I welcome other perspectives.

      • 2

        You have a better plan than most people, great job! Most homes are not airtight, and even if we try and tape off all points of entry for air, there will still be gaps. So I wouldn’t worry too much about running a tube up for air or tapping into your air vent. Although having the ability to do so if you need to is great!

        Are there oxygen sensors that you could possibly add to know when might be the time to open the air vent? A cheaper more accessible possible solution could be to just light a candle. If the flame is struggling to stay lit, you don’t have enough oxygen in the environment.

      • 3

        Hi, Robert. I’m a bit claustrophobic, so I’m going to err on the side of more air and tap into the air vent sooner rather than later. I recently bought a camping cot, low to the ground. That should help me feel as comfortable as possible, if I ever should need to use it while sheltering.

      • 2

        Totally understand! That’s why it’s impossible to write a one size fits all guide for nuclear preparedness, or any prepping topic for that matter. We each have our own individual needs, abilities, requirements, and more. It’s good to take ideas and then customize it for ourselves. I appreciate you not just going with my advice and for applying what works for you.

      • 1

        You would need to choose a room in a basement to shelter in, preferably with brick or concrete walls, no windows, preferably on the side of the building away from  the direction from which the fallout is coming. A bathroom would be good. You’d have to do without heat and air conditioning and close any vents with sheets of plastic and duct tape. If it’s cold, set up your tent in the room and have your girlfriend and dog in it with you for body heat, also any sleeping bags you have. I linked a good article at The Organic Prepper from several years ago below several comments down. Stock water and ready to eat food now, especially canned food with a can opener. Getting news would depend on what grids are still up. Maybe get a transistor radio with batteries. I saw that Brussels was issuing free potassium iodide tablets: did you get them?

      • 2

        Yes we did, thank you for asking. It comes as a family of 4 box. The pharmacist talked about it being useless when you are over 40, but I find it strange. I still need to read the manual. 

      • 1

        I’m looking for more info on pot iod not working if you’re over forty. This article had interesting additional information, like don’t use hair conditioner. It says “probably” it’s not necessary for those over forty because we are at extremely low risk of thyroid cancer as a result of exposure. I know two women, both well over forty, who developed thyroid cancer, though not from a nuclear incident. The recommendation seems strange to me as well.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.self.com/story/potassium-iodide-nuclear-attack/amp

      • 4

        FYI The CDC says that adults over 40 should not take iodine pills unless directed by public health or emergency management officials because:

        • Adults older than 40 years have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury after contamination with radioactive iodine.
        • Adults older than 40 are more likely to have allergic reactions to or adverse effects from KI.

        https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/emergencies/ki.htm

        Edited to add: here are also in-depth instructions from the FDA on how to take iodine https://www.fda.gov/drugs/bioterrorism-and-drug-preparedness/frequently-asked-questions-potassium-iodide-ki

      • 1

        I saw that. Also that allergic reactions to KI were nearly always mild. I personally would rather take it than not take it in case of a nearby nuclear attack. 

      • 2

        I’ve been reading more. The sealing off windows and doors is to block fallout. You also need to block radiation in the air. I’m thinking card table in the basement closet under the steps in our case. As much mass as possible on all five sides: the floor is at subsoil level. Even aluminum foil taped up would help. Any kind of mass helps: stacks of books, your provision box, bottles of water, also stacked on top of the table as well as all around, the wider the better. Delineate the area on the floor above and when the moment comes, dump at least a foot of mass all over that area. Then go to your fortified table and wait it out. 

    • 3

      Thank you, Robert! I just looked for advice on nuclear incidents at The Prepared this morning. I ordered potassium iodide from Swansons yesterday, on back order, the first company I tried said it was out of stock until May 4. I’m going to get a Sterilite box to keep in the bathroom downstairs and keep no-cook food, jugs of water, the potassium iodide, and some tarps and duct tape to put over the two basement windows and vents. I’m not sure whether to put it over the front door. I didn’t know that you could see the fall out as particles in the air. 

      Great article and advice! Like everyone else, I’m not sure how likely it is to occur here. The mutual destruction thing is still applicable. Still a good idea to keep it in the back of your mind. 

      • 2

        Yesterday I read that the recommended dosage of potassium iodide for an adult over 150 pounds was 130 mg once a day for ten days. Half dose for a large dog, quarter dose for a cat. That would be four tablets of the brand I ordered, although I will research it again to make sure of the dosage for each of us and write it on the bottle. It’s only to be used in a nuclear emergency and can have dangerous side effects. I have a friend who had thyroid cancer and she said she’d ask her endocrinologist, which is a good idea.

    • 5

      Robert,

      Excellent piece.

      I don’t prep for nuclear exchanges for a few reasons:

      1. The US does not have a civil defense infrastructure to ‘survive’ a nuclear exchange whereas Russia does (did?). Russian thinking held that nuclear war was winnable and survivable at the country level.  This was well known a few decades ago when I was familiar with it and while it may(?) have changed in Russia since the wall came down, nothing has been done in the US.

      2. I live 50 and 100 miles from 2 likely targets and while I may be outside the blast radius I will be much more likely to suffer from the fallout coming from the west. Why? Because winds in the US generally blow west to east and there are many targets west of me.

      3. JIT inventory. I may last a few weeks longer that those that suffer a direct hit, but almost nothing I need (food, water, electricity, clothes…) are made in my town; I am a captive of the global economy and the wholesale transfer of manufacturing capacity outside the US.

      If a nuclear exchange occurred and the US was very badly hit my family would share all our preps with our friends and neighbors and prepare for a good death.

      BTW, the best target to cripple the US is New Orleans.

      • 3

        I’m with Shaun on this one.  A nuclear attack would widen quickly to cover a large part of the biosphere, and there are estimates as far back as the 80s as to how much disease,  famine, and disorder would unfold over the next six months. There is no point trying to survive such an event and I think preparing for it falls way outside the bounds of rationality. See this introduction to a classic work, which is only outdated because the consequences it describes aren’t as severe as they would be now:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK219144/

        I have no desire to live in that kind of world, or to compel or even encourage anyone else to.

        (Edit: full text of the above report on the short term consequences of global nuclear war: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK219152/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK219152.pdf)

      • 1

        It’s all speculation. Putin might drop one bomb on the US to see the reaction and what he could get out of it.  Most Americans would survive. And once he started that, most Russians would not support him and some would try to effect regime change. No rational person wants nuclear war. That leaves out Putin at this time, but includes nearly everyone else.

      • 3

        Cia, I was not speculating about what may happen, I was outlining what the outcome of a serious attack on the US may mean based on available material and circumstances described elsewhere on this site.

        My comment about New Orleans was based on the work of George Friedman, the founder of Stratfor.

        Friedman’s PhD thesis explored the idea that geography was destiny for nations. He asked why Africa, an area of exceptional farmland, ranching, oil and other deposits has not developed along the lines of the US, another area rich in farmland, ranching, oil and minerals. He posited that the defining characteristic was riverine systems. Africa has no meaningful riverine system, aside from the Nile, whereas the US has a vast system of deep, navigable rivers emptying into the Mississippi river.

        The US system allows farm and other goods to be moved very cheaply and quickly to a deep water port for export to other nations or other US cities. This single feature of geography was a tremendous advantage for the US as it developed over the last 200 years. Unfortunately, Africa has no such system and is reliant on much more expensive rail and air freight.

        This is obviously not the only determinant of development but it is very significant.

        Friedman went on to ask what targets would maximize damage to the US and its economy in a nuclear exchange. Many people would say NYC and Wall St. Others would say Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell to damage the American psyche or air and naval bases.

        Friedman said New Orleans – it would bottle up the American economy for decades and act as the most significant blow to the US.

        Our enemy would likely hit our military bases too. For a great read about the likelihood of that read 2034 by retired Admiral James Stavridis.

      • 2

        Jared Diamond wrote a really interesting book about why the West pulled ahead: Guns, Germs, and Steel. 

      • 1

        I too don’t think that most people should prep for a nuclear exchange. It is very unlikely are there are many other things we should prep for first. 

        The good thing is that by preparing for many other disasters you prepare for a nuclear attack at the same time. My point with this post is to just educate people on what to do and at least have that info in the back of your mind to put into practice the best you can with what you have if in the very rare chance it happens.

        Something I would like to look into more is what is the range in which you need to act. For example, if a bomb goes off in a neighboring state, should all of us immediately go to our basements, pop some iodine tablets, and tape off our air vents? Or is the fallout so dispersed and not a threat after X amount of miles and we just need to avoid being outside for long periods of time for a week.

      • 4

        I appreciate that this is a community where (1) people post thoughtful stuff about prepping for a nuclear exchange, and (2) people are willing to say, “I don’t prep for that.” I’m in the latter camp, but still read and appreciated this thread. Without a basement, I’m irradiated toast unless I’m at work. In that case, my husband and dog would be irradiated toast and I’d be… at work. Shudder.

      • 3

        Isn’t that a great thing? I’ve been watching some other prepping groups and if someone posts their opinion there are five comments saying they are an idiot and other not so nice things. People here are very kind, respectful, and have the courage to say what they do or do not do.

        I do not prep for a nuclear attack myself, but I wanted to learn about it and share what I learned with others. I do not think one will happen (hope I’m right), and do not think that others should focus their energy on prepping for one either. So many other things that are more likely to happen first, and many preps will work for various situations.

        That would be sad to have your husband and dog be irradiated toast. Hopefully they are outside playing frisbee or something nice when it happens.

      • 2

        Agree on all points, here, and hoping that we all avoid irradiation. I feel pretty optimistic that there won’t be a nuclear exchange, too… just less optimistic than I was six weeks ago… :/

      • 4

        I’m also looking for information on range. I think the stacking up of mass in critical areas to protect against gamma radiation is the most surprising thing I’ve learned. Four inches of water or seven inches of books, wheat, etc., will halve the amount of radiation getting through. Another layer of either same height will halve it again. Ideally you want ten, but that seems unrealistic. I read to stack your supplies along the walls of your shelter. Sand bags against its outside wall, or also on the inside. A water bed or wading pools directly above your basement shelter on the floor above. Or last minute piles of books seven inches tall or more. I’m thinking two card tables in the downstairs bathroom with a board across them to lengthen them. Books on top. Several baskets with four or five feet of clothes in them (mass is mass). Then we’d lie on the ground under the tables, surrounded by mass. The bathroom wall is under the deck. I have two Sterilite boxes with burlap to cover plants and three wading pools. I could push the Sterilite boxes against the wall of the house (the shelter on the other side), and fill them with water from the hose. Put wading pools on top of them and fill them too. Maybe put one in the kitchen above the bathroom shelter and fill it right before taking shelter, to protect from gamma rays.

        I think for most people it would be survivable. Nuclear winter is a theory from the ‘80s which has not been demonstrated. 

      • 2

        Great info and suggestions 🙂 I wonder if gamma radiation enters mass and then stays there… So if you lined your bunker/shelter with your food storage or water barrels, and it does half the radiation getting to you, does that radiation stay in your resources and contaminate it? If so that adds a whole ‘nother layer of complications because you now have no food or water to consume. 

        At the end of the day, this all is very unlikely to happen, and any approach to protecting ourselves will greatly help. 

      • 1

        Russia is increasing its nuclear threats and it looks as though our defensive capabilities are not as good as I would have thought.

        i just learned that less-dense shields like clothing scatter gamma rays, while dense ones like lead, absorb it. But don’t make the shield radioactive. Only neutron rays can do that, but this can be counteracted by using a shield with hydrogen in it, like water or plastic.

      • 2

        Robert, it is my understanding that Gamma rays do not stay in your food. Food you find / acquire post nuclear explosion is safe as long as it is in a package that prevents radiation particles (alpha and beta) from getting in. You will want to wipe down those packages/ cans before opening

    • 3

      Another good article about preparing for a nuclear attack.

      https://www.theorganicprepper.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-nuclear-attack/

      Suggestions for stacking mass (sand bags good, which we don’t have), at windows and doors of shelter area to block fallout, taping tarps with duct tape over edges of doors and windows and vents, maybe garbage bags. A couple of tarps over door to outside for someone to put on a hazmat suit to go out momentarily to leave bags of waste. Possibly the toilet in the shelter area would still work. Ample food ready to eat without cooking, suggestions given. Radio if the grid is up to get news. A lot of water jugs. Enough potassium iodide tablets for your family and pets for maybe ten days.

      • 2

        Cia, I am along your ways of thinking for prepping / shielding a nuclear attack. I ordered a pallet of bagged dirt from Lowe’s. I intend to pile it on top of a two heavy duty Lifetime folding tables, that I have reinforced with pvc piping underneath. We will be under that table for a good week or so, with the exception of briefly using a toilet (more on that, later) just outside the area. I bought a 3″ cool foam mattress topper for the floor for comfort. I have many 7 gallon stackable jugs on either side, each one is about a square foot. (Reliance Aqua Trainer). And then bean and wheat pails on shelves above that. Loaded bookshelves are already part of our home on the walls surrounding this area

        Just a thought for you. I saw some of your comments on filling swimming pools, etc. Know that doing that will take some time, time that you may not have and who knows how much water you will be able to get out of your pipes before it stops. Just filling all my jugs for my area took hours.  You don’t want to have too many tasks that you need to accomplish in such a short window of time.

        I am also fortunate that I have a bathtub almost directly above our sheltering area. I have a WaterBob for each of the tubs in my house, but it may not be feasible to fill them all before we must shelter, so that one bathtub directly above us is the priority. 

        Having bagged dirt inside your house already will have an added benefit of being able to possibly use it to grow foods, later, without having to worry about contaminated soil.

        We have a couple of boxes of MREs that are self-heating in that area, as well, as we do not want to have to do any cooking. 

        And, I don’t know if you have one already, but getting yourself a good geiger counter/ docimeter will give you crucial info as you shelter in place and whether it is safe to move about your house, vs. having to anxiously wait to hear from official sources via a radio which may or may not pick up signals after an attack.  There may be a wait time on being able to buy one as they all seemed to sell out this past month, however.

      • 1

        Those are all good ideas! I’m not able to reinforce the card tables, but looked it up the other day: each of the two should withstand a hundred pounds. We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of books: we could pile quite a few on the tables, and more on the kitchen floor above: seven inches is a radiation halving thickness and hampers of clothes from drawers and closets would add lightweight meters of mass. We have two thick soft old fabric sleeping bags that belonged to my father to put underneath. And a big white plastic cutting board two feet long to set on the middle to extend the two square card tables. A Sterilite box of supplies probably across the door of the bathroom and jugs of water all around. Maybe twenty pound bags of sand on the wall closest to the outside under the deck. More sandbags along the wall across from the bathroom door. We have  bookshelves on three sides of the room next to the bathroom filled with books. On the other side is the washer and drier: we could stuff both with clothes and pile more things on top. 

        You’re right, I was thinking that if we had fifteen minutes between blast and fallout, it wouldn’t be enough time to fill the Sterilite boxes and wading pools. I considered filling them ahead of time, but mosquitoes would breed in them. On the other hand, we don’t know what the circumstances would be. It might be that we would suspect ahead of time that the moment was approaching, also possible that other places would be attacked before here, giving us warning. 

        I’ll think about getting bags of soil rather than sand: you’re right that then you could use them for cultivation in the aftermath. 

        i enjoyed your post: it’s a relief that others are taking the threat seriously and making plans. 

        Is it the case that the gamma rays would follow a straight line so that you’d just need to shield a foot or two at ground level?

      • 2

        It is my understanding that gamma rays can come at you from all directions above ground. That being said, there does tend to be more interference (objects) at ground level, than, say, on your home’s second floor.  That, of course, can vary if your house is on a hill, higher than other interferences in the area, etc., like is your house a few feet from your neighbor’s house or is it out in the middle of a field.

        We have made our preparations based on having NO time, NO warning, just that flash of light with a 0 to mayyybe a 15 min window to get in our shelter. This is because of several reasons:
        1. What if we are sleeping when it happens?
        2. What if we do not get an alert?
        3. If it is launched from a submarine (MUCH less time)

        4. Human reaction/ focus / shock

        For us, I am also not sure if we will be dealing with any blown out windows, which could also cause injuries.  If that happens, then we will be needing to tend to any injuries from glass, and, at the very least, covering windows with plastic sheeting.

        Speaking of which, we ordered a couple rolls of thick, contractor-grade plastic sheeting from Home Depot, along with specialty duct tape that adheres best to drywall.  We spent a whole day cutting the sheeting for each window in our house and labeling them, so they can easily go up under a restricted time after the initial blast wave.

        We have a two-story home, and I do not plan on doing any of the windows up there; it would just take too much time, in addition to there being a large picture window in the stairway that would require a large-extending ladder. So, we plan on “sealing” the upstairs off from the downstairs at the staircase. 

      • 1

        More good ideas! Thanks! I’d like to find out about the Gamma rays. I read that they shoot out penetrating nearly everything. Wouldnt that be shoot straight out from the source? I also thought that we’re miles from any deliberate target. They would have to go through miles of houses and fences. Like Robert, I’m wondering how far they would go before they foundered. Isn’t the reason we want to keep our heads below ground level so that the gamma rays shoot horizontally above us?

      • 1

        Gamma rays follow a straight line at the speed of light, only being slightly disrupted when they interface with objects of different materials.

      • 3

        Gamma radiation is basically electromagnetic light just of a of a different “color”.  Red light is different from blue but exhibits many of the same properties and so does gamma, radio waves, infra red, etc. The difference is that just like visible light acts as if window glass, plastic wrap and clear water are transparent; gamma rays are so energetic most everything is transparent.

        Think of radioactive fallout particles producing gamma rays as if every tiny piece of irradiated dust were producing a tiny amount of light. When the dust lands and stacks up on surfaces the amount of light is multiplied. Since most objects are transparent to gamma to some extent, it takes lots of shielding to stop the light. Just like it would take many layers of t-shirt fabric to block out sunshine. electromagnetic_spectrum

        Prompt radiation is Alpha and Beta that damage the skin mostly because they are not energetic enough to penetrate. Neutron and Gamma rays travel farther and penetrate the body. When the do they damage DNA. The first signs then are in cells that multiply rapidly, Your hair is growing constantly by replication so it is affect, blood cells reproduce rapidly, on and on.

      • 2

        Gamma radiation is basically electromagnetic light just of a of a different “color”.

        I would add …of a different “color” and energy level. Isn’t that how the various frequencies differ? The amount of energy they are at?

        But VERY VERY good explanation about the each little piece of radioactive dust is giving off a small amount of “light” in every direction. And your explanation of layers of a t-shirt to block light makes a ton of sense in regards to shielding from radiation.

    • 7

      FEMA has a really good and concise leaflet about how to deal with a nuclear explosion.

      https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2020-11/ready_nuclear-explosion_fact-sheet_0.pdf

      I like that it distinguishes between bright flash, blast wave, radiation, fire and heat, EMP, and fallout risks. When I think of nuclear threat I always only thought of radiation, EMPs and fallout, but never considered the other threats. It also shows visually where you would be safe or safer and that helped me a lot:

       Screenshot 2022-03-06 090801

      This is also the rest of FEMAs advice: 

      https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-explosion

      https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/practitioners/hazardous-response-capabilities/radiological

      https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_planning-guidance-response-nuclear-detonation.pdf

      • 4

        Thanks for attaching those, and interesting how recent they are. I was a Cold War kid so nuclear war is sort of an obsession of mine.

      • 2

        Thank you for sharing these resources. That infographic is very well crafted at quickly telling people the best places to go.

      • 1

        What would the interior room without windows be? Large office buildings and schools have some. I’ve never lived in a house that had an interior room not along a wall. Do those without a basement have no options?

      • 1

        In our house, it’s our mudroom

      • 1

        How about the neighbors? That’s my plan. Ours is the only house on the block that doesn’t have a below-ground basement or a single room, closet, or pantry with no exterior walls. Fortunately we know all our neighbors… well enough to know who is most likely to be home to let us in… and whose basement is in the best shape. 😀

    • 3

      What I tell myself so I can sleep at night is that most leaders and all dictators are complete if not pathological narcissists and are concerned first, last and always with their own welfare above all else. They will not strike first and would not respond even in defeat by conventional weapons because they know they would certainly die. Only if they were about to be overrun and felt personal danger would they launch.

      Or so I tell myself…

      • 1

        I tell myself that the US is very big  and probably there would be many areas relatively unaffected no matter what. Many have noticed that Putin is very different than he was even two years ago. He may not be acting according to self-interest as we usually think of it. However, those around him probably are.

      • 8

        I tell myself that the US is very big  and probably there would be many areas relatively unaffected no matter what

        You understand just 2 or 3 EMP weapons exploded above the US would destroy the entire power grid for years?  The entire country would go dark.  During a nuclear war, both sides would employ these weapons along with ground bursts.  Very little food is grown locally in the US nowadays, so even if an area was “relatively unaffected”, the odds are there would be no food as there would be little to no transportation.  What do you think happens to society when there is no electricity for years?

        For some reason, people only think of blast & radiation when they think of nuclear war.  Just don’t leave out the impact of EMP.  

      • 0

        There are a lot of variables. Life went on even after Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. I don’t see why we would have no electricity for years. We’d rebuild.

      • 3

        The problem we would face recovering from EMP, or hits targeting infrastructure or even sufficiently damaging cyber attack, is sourcing replacement parts. I’ll say it again, everything comes from somewhere else. In the US we’ve become increasingly like the worlds back-office, the FIRE economy produces nothing but profit, all the manufacturing is overseas. Grid scale equipment like large transformers are custom ordered with 6-month to a year lead times, in good times. Even the tiniest parts are imported. 

      • 5

        Did you by chance catch the 60 Minutes episode last week or so dealing with an attack on an electrical  substation in California?  Gunmen methodically shot at and disabled 17 of 21 large transformers.  They had Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on as a guest.  He let it be known that by taking out just 20 substations across the US, the ENTIRE US would be in a blackout.  Just 20.

        You see, our electric grids are not self contained little units.  They are all interconnected.  Damage to one section can cause cascading damage & shutoffs in many other sections.  So obviously terrorists and other state sponsored groups have the capability of putting our whole country in the dark, without resorting to nuclear war.  You could do it via limited small unit action or hacking.

        As you said, we don’t make most of these units in the US and don’t have a stockpile of replacement parts to bring back lots of substations.  Our electric grid is very vulnerable to all sorts of attacks, as well as coronal mass ejections from the sun.  IMO, the long term loss of electricity is our greatest threat… by far.

      • 3

        Some preppers might say “Oh, I have my solar panels and I’ll be good if the grid goes down.” 

        But that’s not true. Sure your lights will be on, but if everyone else’s is off, first off you will be a target (people want what they don’t have). Second, where do you get your food and supplies from? Like Pops said, EVERYTHING comes from somewhere. Even the most prepared preppers will eventually need to get something from the store.

      • 3

        I have a few large solar panels, about half are enclosed in Faraday enclosures.  Having lights on at night would not be the best use of solar electric during an extended crisis.  Powering my well to pressurize my water system is top of the list.  Running a smallish freezer is 2nd.  Having hot water is pretty far up there too.

        Yes, I’d mostly agree even the most prepared would need to eventually get something from a store.  I prep for that.  I prep for a North Korea or some group to detonate one nuke that impacts our country greatly, but where that within a year or so, there is a rescue or recovery.  I don’t prep for all out nuclear war.  As I’ve said before, IMO it is not winnable or survivable… by anyone.

        My food and supplies come from what I currently keep in storage.  I have thousands of pounds of food in long term storage, much more than my family needs plus I keep hundreds of pounds of garden seed in stock.  Each year, I fill another 6 gallon pail with the seed varieties I know grow well here, that provide complete nutrition and extend the growing season as much as possible.  Soon as my 10 pounds of pole bean seed come in I’ll have everything here and I’ll seal up that container & put it in cool storage.

      • 4

        Thanks Red, I’m going to look up that episode right now. Back when that happened I really figured something big was about to go down. The scary part was the bad guys knew how and where to disable the alarm, and or monitoring signals, cutting a fibre cable I think.

        I’m much more concerned about infrastructure sabotage, cyberattacks, ransomware, etc than direct confrontation. We are totally dependent on fragile electronics. A pin prick in a few of the right places to let out the magic smoke and we’re all toast.

        Asymmetric attack is about the only way to trip us up because we’re so military heavy. Bin Laden did a few hundred million in damage to us and took a few thousand innocent lives, but our own actions against countries who were not even involved, or barely so, resulted in perhaps a million deaths, $6-8 Trillion in wasted dollars, a shameful suicide rate among our military, not to mention the tragedy of our lost privacy and trampled freedoms. And all with a few $5 utility knives. That was true Jiu Jitsu!

        We may never recover. 

      • 1

        I agree completely

    • 5

      I live less than 2 miles from the Pentagon.  My prep for nuclear war is making sure that I have the ingredients for a good martini on hand.

      • 4

        Sorry to say this, but that is a pretty bad location against a nuclear attack. I find your preps to be worthy of your situation.

      • 4

        Well hey, at least your exposure to seismic and wildfire hazards is low! 

        I sign this on behalf of the entire West Coast. 

      • 1

        LOLOLOLOLOL 😂. Shaken or stirred? Bitters?  I want details! hahah

    • 2

      Good article on blocking Gamma radiation in basement shelter after nuclear attack: https://survivalblog.com/2005/10/31/radiation-protection-factors-f/

    • 3

      Thanks Cia, here’s another oldie but goody, lots of ideas for improvised basement shelters.

      Basement Shelters

      • 1

        Thanks, Pops! Is it correct to say that if you’re several miles from ground zero the two main direct dangers are fallout, which may be visible, and invisible radiation? Seal edges and pile up any kind of mass in all directions around yourself? 

        Some things say you can come out in twelve hours, others increase the time up to a month or two, although there’s probably no really safe time.

      • 1

        From what I looked up, fallout loses 90% of it’s potency after 3 days. That would be the soonest in which I would feel comfortable leaving my shelter. Perhaps go dump the toilet bucket at day three and then head back in for another few days if I had the supplies.

      • 1

        Thank you. Does it matter how powerful a bomb it was?   90% reduction of a 100 KT bomb might not mean much. It’s really just too much to worry about. How likely is it that it be 10 KT? More? Less? I read the other day about the many improvements, so to speak, that Russia has made to the genre. There’s a medical research nuclear facility four miles from here, but I don’t know what that means in terms of its being a likely target.

      • 3

        I believe many warheads are of the Multiple Re-entry type, several independently targetable bombas. I guess they are harder to hit and more efficient in their destruction even if all hit one general target. 

        There is a 7/10 rule I’ve read about. For every 7-fold increase in time, there is a 10-time decrease in radiation.

        But you’re right, decrease from what is the question. In a nuke exchange there will likely be ZERO information available due to EMP. Just your senses. If you see the sun appear instantly where it should not be, start counting and take cover. Five seconds to the mile. If I make it to 30 seconds I’ll be hopefull I’m out of the main blast, and radiation zone. After a minute I’d guess I’m not gonna get killing fallout—if I only see one fireball.  Depending on how many, how big the yield, how near ground zero you are, prevailing winds, ground or air blast, and on and on. Play Thermonuclear War here.

        I think if I stick my head out, maybe my homemade periscope (gotta do something) after 2 weeks and there is a thick layer of grey ash over everything I’d probably lay low for another 2 weeks or more if possible. Maybe a quick trip upstairs to grab a book.

        Also by 2 weeks you will probably have an idea if you received a good initial dose of radiation. Few of us are going to have anywhere near a perfect shelter so we all would be exposed to some extent and should plan on being sick. Prompt symptoms will include diarrhea and vomiting so be prepared for lots of that.

        Long term low level radiation can get you too. So even fallout depleted by time can eventually add up to a lethal dose. After I come out of the basement for a bit I’d sleep down there for a long period. It isn’t comfortable but it is safer.

      • 1

        Interesting information. Our population is much larger now, but it really hasn’t been that long since the introduction of electricity and cars here. My great-grandmother in Elrod, Alabama, wrote her son that she wanted to spend the winter in Tuscaloosa with her daughter so she wouldn’t have to pump water in her yard all winter. The son bought an early automobile. They continued to use horses on their farms and for deliveries for decades. My neighbor, 94 now, grew up on a farm in Iowa that didn’t get electricity until after the War. We live in mid-Missouri, in a prime agricultural area, with lots of rain.

        i hope nothing cataclysmic will happen, but there are many intelligent, resourceful Americans who will figure out solutions, whatever happens. 

      • 2

        I really like Alice Friedman, she brings together lots of information, mostly from the standpoint of declining energy. Here is a search on her site for “horses”.

        In their hayday (wink) in 1920-ish there were maybe 15 million draft horses in the US. I doubt there are more than a million or 2 now. I’m no horseman but I doubt a saddle horse would be much good. If I were in a position to need muscle-power and had the grass to support one, I would approach a dairyman (person) to acquire a holstein bull calf or three just as soon after [whatever] as possible. You might be able to get an old milker pretty cheap as well depending on the situation. Buy as many as you can carry. Train those calves to a halter and pony cart just as quick as you can and you’ll be Henry Ford! Holstein are pretty docile, big boned and more manageable than Guernseys, and Jerseys for sure, and any beef breed I’ve been around. Here is an ox link.  If you could get a milking Shorthorn and you had some grass you would be golden!

        Sorry, getting a little off topic, but you got me started, LOL.

      • 1

        Cia, I think the 90% reduction in the amount of radiation will be true no matter the size of the bomb. A 100KT bomb would be significantly larger and have more fallout generated from the blast than a 10KT, but 90% of the radiation generated from either bomb will wear out after three days.

      • 1

        But the 10% left from the 100 KT would be the same as 100% from the initial radiation of the 10 KT. And they might use 10 MT hydrogen bombs. Just stay in longer, if possible. 

    • 5

      In regards to protection from nuclear blast and fallout I believe the following Army Field manual (FM 3-4, Nuclear Protection) circa 1992 is helpful

      https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/policy/army/fm/3-4/Ch4.htm

      Sandbags are very effective and inexpensive ways of shielding from radiation, Home Depot sells empty sandbags 55 cents each. r

      Here are more useful resources

      Nuclear Protection video 1 (a bit old but useful)

      Nuclear Protection video 2 (army film)

      • 1

        The first video was good and provided many helpful tips. There are two things I don’t agree with, but maybe they know better than I do. The first is the improvised test to see if fallout is present by placing a white plate outside and check on it in 15 minutes to see if fallout dust has accumulated on it. While that would tell if fallout is present, I would be exposing myself more than I would feel comfortable doing. The same goes with the other tip that you can go outside for brief periods of time as long as you cover your skin from dust, again I wouldn’t risk it.

        The video also says to go to your local civil defense office and they will give you plans on how to build a fallout shelter and that it’s easy enough to build one that anyone can do it. I wonder if that is still an available service in 2022.

        It also mentions to keep your radio tuned to 640 and 1240 on the AM radio. This was implemented as the first emergency alert stations called CONELRAD and has since been replaced with the Emergency Alert System.

        Great video and I wonder how much of it is accurate or has been changed with updated info given over 60 years of science since the video was made.

        I haven’t had a chance to watch the second video yet.

      • 3

        Funny, I recently found a Civil Defense pamphlet from the same era that accompanied a booklet about constructing various shelters.  The then principal of my kids (now) elementary school was the lead civil defense coordinator.

        60+ years later, we still haven’t learned our )(*#@#@ lesson about nukes.  I grew up, in part, in the Fulda Gap.  11 year old me absolutely expected to be incinerated one day.  I cannot believe that’s something my kids could now face.

        (I don’t think they will, of course, but that it’s even on the table . . . )

    • 4

      I don’t prep for nuclear war – too hard and too unlikely. I’m more of an “every day” type prepper. But it’s fun to put your thinking cap on and try to imagine what you might do in that scenario, so here it goes.

      I figure that nuclear winter would be far harder to survive than the bombs themselves if you live in a rural area and aren’t wiped out by the blasts/immediate aftermath. So what does a rural prepper do when you emerge 2 weeks after the bombs have stopped, the radiation has dropped, and you are staring down an oncoming nuclear winter?

      My understanding of “realistic” nuclear winter is that 1- you actually have a few weeks to months before it descends which buys you a bit of time to get better equipped, 2) sunlight is dramatically reduced, 3) temps drop, 4) precipitation drops. Since most of our food system relies on sun loving and water hungry crops, the result is mass crop failure, famine, and a rapid wipe-out of most of the people on the planet. But unless we are talking about nonstop subzero arctic temps and perpetual darkness, it’s actually likely that a decent number of plant species could survive at least for a while. With a whole lot of luck (ie: cold but not persistent sub0 temps, some sunlight just not as much) there could still be plant options that adaptive and knowledgeable people could use as food sources…

      1- shade and drought tolerant grass/weed/forest floor species

      2 – mosses and lichens

      3- Fungi (mushrooms)

      4 – Frost hardy/cold tolerant vegetables like the cruciferous veggies, root veggies, and some leafy greens (especially if protected in a greenhouse to maximize warmth and light exposure and reduce water evaporation)

      5 – Seaweed

      6 – Pine and other cold hardy trees (will probably die over time but not right away)

      And where these species still hold on, there will also be insect and small wildlife species around as potential protein sources.

      Also – and this might seem really morbid – the extremely rapid die off of the population caused by the war would mean that there would be alot of supplies (including jarred and canned foods) readily available in abandoned homes which could be scavenged. So between the left behind products of the big ag food system and the more hardy plant/animal species that can stick around for a couple years, rural communities might be able to come up with a better plan for long term survival even under these horrible conditions (ie: biodomes that magnify light for crop growth). The key might be to just survive long enough for that better plan to materialize.

      So as a homesteader, if I were to prep for nuclear winter, I wouldn’t just go out and try to save 10 years worth of food in my basement. Instead I’d get real familiar and comfortable with winter foraging, growing frost hardy crops, learning local seaweed species, starting mushroom stands on my property, etc.

      • 3

        So as a homesteader, if I were to prep for nuclear winter, I wouldn’t just go out and try to save 10 years worth of food in my basement. Instead I’d get real familiar and comfortable with winter foraging, growing frost hardy crops, learning local seaweed species, starting mushroom stands on my property, etc.

        From what I’ve learned, the 3 best crops in such an environment would be seaweed, potatoes and mushrooms.  Seaweed ain’t an option for me in north Mississippi.  I just don’t see how anyone could rapidly ramp up production of mushrooms, even if you grow some now.  Imagine how many mushrooms you would need for a 2400 calorie diet per person.  One cup of mushrooms only has 15 calories.   Potatoes grow from cuttings, so they can’t be in long storage, as you would corn & beans.  Very few people grow potatoes & few keep their own seed  potatoes, so what are the odds anyone would have enough potatoes on hand to feed their crew?

        This is why I don’t prep for all out nuclear war.  If we have such a war, I want the first nuke to hit me.

    • 3

      I found this an informative and sobering read:

      https://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/blog/2022/03/what-the-science-says-could-humans-survive-a-nuclear-war-between-nato-and-russia/

      Basically, even a limited nuclear exchange (say, between India and Pakistan) would have devastating effects on climate and food production. 

      As others have said, the luckiest might be those who are vaporized in the initial strikes. Survival is possible but it will be a long and bleak recovery. 

      • 2

        Hi Naz, thanks for the link, very bleak.

        But for myself, hoping the bomb falls on my head really isn’t a viable plan. Simply because one doesn’t want to suffer in living, doesn’t mean they won’t suffer greatly in dying. 

        I choose to live as far from ground zero as possible for lots of reasons but one was growing up in the cold war. Everyone says they remember duck and cover drills in school (although they ended in 1962-ish) but somewhere along the line I got enough of a  dose to have an aversion to the bullseye, or being at the mercy of crowds. So no easy out for me.

        And I’m stubborn. I can’t see myself checking out voluntarily unless the prognosis is void of any hope whatsoever, mostly because I don’t expect a great reward afterward, this is it. I don’t do anything extravagant to prep for NBC specifically but I do try to educate myself, have plenty of long term food, water and stuff stored and know how to shelter as best as possible. 

        I’ve read the greatest survival skill is attitude, hoping to be the first to go doesn’t sound like a winner, but that’s just my take.

      • 1

        I’m a child of the duck & cover generation and I agree attitude is a great survival skill, but I firmly believe all out nuclear war between superpowers is not survivable.  I believe your attitude, in such a war, won’t make a bit of difference.  Now if we are talking an EMP event or say a single warhead detonated by terrorists in New York City, then that is survivable.  Won’t be easy and attitude, location and amount of long term preps just might see you thru it.

        I think it important for preppers to be realistic.  Not every event will be survivable.  And sometime luck is just as important as preps.

      • 5

        I hear you Red.

        But fatalism isn’t realism, it’s just fatalism.

        Realistically, an all out exchange could well be a slate-wiper. But just as realistically, what do you do if you’re “unlucky” and the bomb doesn’t come down on your head?

        At what point does one quit trying? The first threat? The first confrontation? The first blackout? The first reported detonation? The first EMP? The first flash and distant mushroom? The first grey ash? The first day in cover, week, month? The first day after?

        I’m no spring chicken, have imperfect preps, am in no way exceptional and would likely succumb quickly. Regardless, planning to not survive is still a plan, just as much as not planning (as most do) is still a plan. Neither are appealing to me.

        In the long run everyone’s odds run to zero but I’m gonna play to the end.

      • 1

        “At what point does one quit trying? The first threat? The first confrontation? The first blackout? The first reported detonation? The first EMP? The first flash and distant mushroom? The first grey ash? The first day in cover, week, month? The first day after? […] I’m gonna play to the end.”

        Pops, that is exactly how I feel, too. I do respect others’ opinions/ choice for themselves, and I appreciated the respectful tone of this forum.

    • 6

      Robert wrote up a great guide, especially the first section about duck and cover and finding improvised shelter.

      Here is a write up from Ki4U that has probably been linked somewhere already, The Good News About Nukes.

      And another: Guide If Nuke attack Is Imminent.

      These are current write ups by people with knowledge. Print them out at your first opportunity and keep them handy.

      P.S. Personally I don’t see global thermonuclear war as the best time to go shopping as is suggested in the guide, but I understand it is a guide designed for non-preparedness folks. In my case I would spend the first minutes rounding up whatever snacks, meds, clothing items, books and relocating them downstairs. Then I would drag whatever toolboxes, furniture, books, —anything with mass— to a location on the first floor over my basement shelter. Then, downstairs I’d rearrange supplies and whatever else is there to provide additional shielding; pile the workbench with tools and stuff, rearrange water jugs, food buckets, canned goods, whatever to make a little hidey-hole for the first few days. Set up water/ food and the bucket-loo and stretch out. After a couple days, we would crawl out of the bean-cave periodically but still stay in the basement—and still keeping our heads below the ground level for 2 weeks.

      If one already has the preps to last for a few weeks or months then the hard part is done. The key then is protecting from fallout and further blasts. Both are accomplished by just piling up everything you can in the most protected location you can.

      Remember the 7/10 rule of thumb: this is the most important “knowledge”: For every 7x increase in time there is a 10 fold decrease in radiation exposure for the same period

      If the exposure rate is 1000 (units) per hour after the first hour, after 49 hours (7×7) the exposure per hour is (10×10) or 100 times less = 10 (units).
      After 343 hours (7x7x7) or 14 days, exposure per hour is (10x10x10) or 1,000x less or 1 (unit).

      Obviously the original amount depends on lots of factors: number of burts, yield, distance, direction, weather, etc and the only way to know for sure is with a meter but the lesson is: Avoid radiation with Time, Distance, Shielding.

      (sorry had to edit my math for clarity)

      • 1

        Thank you for your links! Very helpful!

      • 1

        Would it be a good idea to fill the boxes and wading pools with water if the DEFCON level goes to 2?

      • 2

        I’m pretty sure the actual defcon level is classified or at least not publicly announced. I’d guess much or our capability is teed up 24/7 anyway.

        There are all sorts of sites that will tell you they know things, especially the GREAT deal they have right now! (on some-prepper-thing) but I wouldn’t put much store by them. I’d actually be surprised if inbound would even be announced via EAS, all that would do is make a bunch of people head outside to be fried by the fireball. There was the accidental announcement about inbound NK missiles to HI, but that was an accident.

        If one is inside the blast overpressure radius they won’t care, but everyone outside the circle of prompt vaporization will certainly have notice.
        • The fireball & Mushroom will be visible from a long distance
        • The blast wave and sound wave will reach many miles
        • EMP effects to grid and/or electronics may or may not be widespread
        • If they survive EAS will sound

        Depending on proximity you might have minutes to hours before lethal fallout.

        “It has been estimated that a weapon with a fission yield of 1 million tons TNT equivalent power (1 megaton) exploded at ground level in a 15 miles-per-hour wind would produce fallout in an ellipse extending hundreds of miles downwind from the burst point. At a distance of 20-25 miles downwind, a lethal radiation dose (600 rads) would be accumulated by a person who did not find shelter within 25 minutes after the time the fallout began. At a distance of 40-45 miles, a person would have at most 3 hours after the fallout began to find shelter. Considerably smaller radiation doses will make people seriously ill. Thus, the survival prospects of persons immediately downwind of the burst point would be slim unless they could be sheltered or evacuated.”
        Worldwide Effects of Nuclear War; Chapter 2, Radioactive Fallout

        FWIW, I don’t have anything staged beyond normal preps. But then I have quite a bit of those. The reason to not go to defcon 1 full time is simply doom-fatigue. I’d say do what you can, have in mind what you will do “if” and proceed as normal.

      • 2

        I get the doom fatigue. I just read about cobalt and neutron bombs, both of which Russia has, and thought What’s the point? 

        The commercial sites to which you refer think we’re at DEFCON 3 now. DEFCON 2 was Cuban Missile Crisis and 9/11. 

        I can’t see even an unstable Putin launching nuclear weapons at us or Europe. I don’t think he’d have anything to gain, given the global fallout ( so to speak). 

      • 3

        Yeah, I’m with you, when it comes to nukes I try not to dwell too much on all the worst possibilities. If I stay there too long I feel the same hopelessness. I stock up and plan what I might do simply because we won’t be lucky enough to be at Ground Zero. Perhaps “only” a fifth or quarter of the population of the US would go in the first minutes, everyone left will have to cope, like it or not. I’d rather be a little prepared than not at all.

        The thing about narcissists like Putin is they definitely look out for number one. And you know, if was hearing from his crew that he was pretty tough before this little foray, he may have a different outlook now. He’ll surely get the warm water Black Sea ports he’s after but he may be a little bit chastised. If he must send whatever generals he has left to  Siberia for misleading him on this easy task in Ukraine, he’ll perhaps be more skeptical about going nuke on us.

        Perhaps. 

      • 2

        From what I’ve read, I think he had unrealistic expectations and ordered hesitant generals to do it. No one told him they were unrealistic. I said here two months ago that Russia had spent centuries trying to get a warm-water port and finally did so with Odessa  (Ukraine) in the late eighteenth century. I’m not saying anything about morality, but you can see where he’d want to control the Black Sea coast. And it’s a land bridge to the Crimea. 

        So maybe this is all because of cowed advisors. Or maybe everyone underestimated Z. But not because of insanity. Not much point in being  Number One in the world for five minutes. 

      • 1

        Russia just introduced a new kind of long-range missile today, Sarmat, capable of evading current air defenses. Says not a threat to US, but two months ago said not planning to attack U. I’d appreciate your opinion.

        https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2022/04/20/missile-sarmat-la-russie-affirme-avoir-reussi-le-premier-tir-d-essai-de-son-arme-intercontinentale-washington-relativise_6123005_3210.html

      • 2

        I’m pretty sure the actual defcon level is classified or at least not publicly announced. I’d guess much or our capability is teed up 24/7 anyway.

        Actually, on a day to day basis, most of the military is at Defcon 5… normal day to day readiness.  Certain organizations, such as our missile forces, are always at a higher state of readiness and can go to Defcon 1 in a matter of minutes.  Other forces might take weeks to achieve that readiness.

      • 1

        I hope they would be able to take effective measures. We’ve never gone to DEFCON 1. I realized it would not be public knowledge unless it were imminent. I just paused, fearful but not knowing what to say.

      • 1

        Defcon 1 means the war has already started or is imminent.   At that point, I wouldn’t expect too many public disclosures.

        Our military trains for moving to states of enhanced readiness constantly.  The units that need to take effective measures will be ready.  We have the finest military in the world.  The members are highly trained volunteers and they have good leadership, especially in the non commissioned ratings.

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        You’re experienced and well-informed, had a career in this area. Would they warn the public if they knew an attack was imminent? Or try to neutralize it without warning the public? I saw a map yesterday with triangles on many cities, with other symbols for nuclear power plants and Air Force bases. A  triangle on my city. I guess population centers are targets in themselves.

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        I was not a decision maker, so my guess is as good as anyone’s.  But I really doubt there would be any public warning.  All that would do is spread panic.  Where would the people go?  We no longer have a Civil Defense organization, that setup shelters with food & water in storage.  That is all in the past.

        IMO, just as well.  The world won’t survive all out nuclear war.

      • 1

        That’s what I was afraid of. I wouldn’t want a warning based on speculation, but I think that if it were known with probability that nukes were on their way in the near future, I think the public should be warned. Most people could do something to protect themselves, maybe take jugs of water to the basement of a local school. Most people here have basements and could probably take some protective measures with furniture, books, containers of water, mattresses, food and water, on short notice. I measured yesterday and the basement non-garage northern side has two and a half feet underground. I think a lot of houses are like that. But the further ahead warning was given, the more people would survive, initially. 

        Russia and the US continue to be the only players with enough nukes to engage in all-out nuclear war, which would be insane. Russia seems to think that just a few might be all right to achieve an objective. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be all-out, and a lot of lives would be saved by giving fair warning before people actually saw the blast. Might even give me time to fill all our boxes and wading pools with water from the hose.

    • 4

      WHERE DO WE SHELTER? I am living in a new home, and in addition to the prepping everyone else is doing, I learned we live a few miles from a nuclear power plant, so I’d like to be prepped on this one. We are also in direct line of fallout if the MAJOR city near us gets hit in a situation. My issue now is I have a small pet and family of 5 who needs to shelter together in one room, so a closet or bathroom wouldn’t last long.

      I have no basement. My only central area without windows is an under the stairs closet and a pantry. Should we use the pantry or closet for a few hours then move to a shelter in place room after a few hours? Or should we just head to the room, seal off the windows, and hope for the best? (The room has space for all our stash.)

      The bedroom has 2 small exposed walls with small windows, the other 2 walls are bordered by house and garage. In this room, the closet is the safest, and we can come out with gas masks and use the bathrooms and have enough food and water for weeks. What do you think? Thank you Preppers!

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        Couple thoughts… You may want to prioritize bugging out vs bugging in because of your particular situation of being so close to the danger site. But your bug out will have to be swift. What are your thoughts on that?

        When bugging out, try and figure out the direction of the wind and incoming fallout. For example, lets say that major city is the the north of you and the wind is blowing southwards which means the fallout is going to be coming straight towards you. Instead of travelling north (towards the blast) or south (in the direction the wind is blowing the fallout), you will want to travel east or west. Know your escape routes if you need to evacuate east, or west.

        If bugging in is the better option, then create your own rooms. Get to the center most area of your house, and use book cases, ward robes, dressers, and mattresses turned on their side to create a new room that provides as much material between you and the outside. Make it like a game with your children and say you are building forts.

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        Thank you Robert. Good idea. There are two most likely scenarios here and one could be us in direct fallout with typical winds and likely targets, the other a possible bug out, but again more likely have to stay in. I have looked at a route. There is only one due to the nuclear plant location and where we are in that case. 

        For the room idea, I am looking into that, but it would be harder to access water and a toilet, so my other option was to use the room I was looking into, possibly keeping sandbags or concrete near the area for a reinforcement, but time is of the essence. The scenarios I saw with people stacking seemed to take along time. Maybe it’s more time that I am aware of. We have our wildfire evacuation drills down to about 5 minutes. In a shelter situation with radiation, I’d need 1 parent just to wrangle the kids and the other to sandbag and seal windows. I’ll look into what possible furniture we can use. The logistics of our particular architecture make it tricky. 

        Thank you again Robert. Appreciate the reply! 

      • 3

        In one of the video clips linked to up above by John G., it says to place a white dinner plate outside and wait 15 minutes and then go out and see if fallout has accumulated on the plate. To me that sounds very casual and that you can spend some time out of your protected bunker. 

        I personally would want to avoid any and all radiation, but if you can absorb a bit and still be alright, then you should be okay to take a quick bathroom break in the other room.

        It’s incredibly unlikely you will have to go through any of your nuclear prepping plans, but good to have in the back of your mind. 

        I also agree with you that staking sandbags will take some time. 

      • 3

        Great points Robert! It is a little tricky with this house as all the rooms are built on the perimeter walls and the center of the home is a staircase and all open spaces exposed to windows and vaulted ceilings. Come to think of it, many homes I have ever lived in (new or old) have this style where a closet or pantry would be the safest place away from exterior walls. Maybe it makes the most sense to try to stay in one of the interior closets like sardines for the first few hours, then expand to a room with reinforcements. We have a couple HASMAT style suits and we already have gas masks for other emergencies common here. Thanks for the feedback. That’s kind of you to respond. 🙂 

      • 1

        Robert,

        i read parts of the UK Prepper’s website linked here, maybe under a different comment thread, and learned many things. The atomic bomb is fission and measured in kilotons. The original one. The hydrogen bomb is fusion, measured in megatons, and is much more powerful, capable of destroying an entire city. Most countries which have the atomic bomb also have the hydrogen bomb. Which are more likely to be used now? Are prepping strategies the same? I’m wondering if the invasion of Ukraine was done in order to go on an unprecedented war footing as a justification for using nuclear weapons. Although when you go rogue, why bother?

      • 1

        That brings up another good topic. Would it be safe to use your running water and flush the toilet? How could you be sure your city water was not contaminated? I decided you couldn’t be and you should only use your stored water and turn off water to your toilet. Daisy Luther suggests using heavy plastic constructor bags with scented kitty litter added. She says that you could periodically suit up to put the sealed bags in a trash can outside, but I thought we have a side door from the garage to the outside. At first I thought I’d take the bags outside, then thought I’d just leave them inside the garage next to the door for when it was safer to go out. 

        Are your windows liable to break from the initial blast? Would using duct tape to put up trash bags over them be enough? All windows and doors or just those in the basement?

      • 2

        Cia, I’m pretty sure H2O itself can’t become radioactive. Of course if it is contaminated with radioactive fallout ash it would be. Many locales use treated surface water but if you or your municipality use well water it could be OK. OTOH, if it is stored in a water tower exposed to fallout, there may be other impurities in the water that may absorb radiation.

        CDC says only drink stored water until the scientists tell you it’s OK. Not sure I’d be holding my breath (or water) for that. Water in heaters and toilet tanks should be good. You could filter contaminated water, reverse osmosis works. But of course you are concentrating the radioactive material in the filter. Ditto distillation.

        Personally, I would not plan to go outside for as long as possible. Eventually one will need to come out and there may well still be radiation, albeit hopefully at lower levels. But exposure is cumulative. A little every day before levels fall is gonna get you too.

        As far as yield size goes, a bigger boom at the same elevation obviously equates to more fallout. I’ve read that as yield rises the increasing blast radius eventually exceeds the distance that direct radiation is a factor but a big one is gonna kick up more than a little one.  But at least as importantly, the amount of fallout depends on whether a device goes off at altitude, at ground level or even below ground level. Fallout is mostly dust kicked up by the pressure wave that is then irradiated by the ongoing nuclear reaction. An air burst at hundreds or thousands of feet allows the fireball and pressure wave to destroy a larger area but the fallout is less than one set off at ground level. In the event it is designed to produce EMP rather than blast damage, it would be detonated at many thousands of feet I’d think.

      • 1

        What could this news mean?

        https://www.theorganicprepper.com/nuclear-capable-bomber/

        Possibly tactical attack on U?

      • 1

        I think you should fortify the pantry or closet and then stay there for fourteen hours. Listen to your radio to see what they advise. You’ll still need overhead shielding, you might think about our plan to use card tables with several feet of mass on top. 

        I wouldn’t use the toilet or running water until you know it’s safe to do so. 

      • 1

        It would be very hard for five people and a dog to lie low under the shelter for several days, but it might be necessary to survive. I’ve thought of that too regarding us. I think we’d have to put the cats in cat carriers in the bookroom next to the bathroom and tie the dog up there too. We wouldn’t all fit in the bathroom.

    • 1

      I don’t want to believe that we live in a time when we need to learn how to survive a nuclear attack.

      • 1

        We’ve lived in such a time since 1945. We’re lucky that it hasn’t happened so far, but isn’t prepping in order to prepare for possible negative events? Planes have been spotted on the U border possibly carrying nukes.