“Reasonable” preparations for a nuclear conflict—picking a place to live…

Hey everyone. Brand new to the forum; really cool to find a site with such comprehensive resources for common sense preparedness.

I’ve been working on some minor preparedness here and there since COVID started a couple of years ago. Events in Ukraine are now causing me to accelerate and take things to the next level. Specifically, and sadly, I am concerned that we have crossed a threshold where the prospect of a global nuclear conflict will be a real possibility for the foreseeable future.

I have two young kids and am determined not to take a passive stance, leaving my family’s fate completely in the hands of the government. I’m also as yet unwilling to go the other extreme (living completely off-grid in a bunker). So I’m asking myself, is there a middle ground?

I’ve started reading Nuclear War Survival Skills by Kearny. I’m finding that there are indeed actionable strategies that any sufficiently determined citizen can take. But the big question I’m grappling with right now is—do I want to relocate my family?

Currently, we live in the southwest corner of the Denver metro. As I understand it, Colorado is a pretty target-rich environment for nuclear strikes. But that brings me to question number one:

Does anyone know of any up-to-date resources available to the public that assess the risk of nuclear strikes by geography? I know that missile silos, air force bases, large civilian runways, etc would all likely be the first targets. Possibly major cities after that. But I’m wondering if any agency or individual has aggregated all these risk factors into one map.

Based on my limited reading so far, it does seem that if one is located outside the primary blast radius, steps can be taken to sufficiently protect against fallout such that one could at least survive the initial strike and the following ~2-4 weeks of heavy fallout. So I’m trying to determine if there are places I’d actually be willing to live that might be far enough from the most likely targets.

Has anyone researched this before? Curious what you’ve found?


  • Comments (80)

    • 8

      Welcome to the forum and welcome to the lifestyle of prepping.

      Please don’t take this wrong, but a relatively new prepper considering prepping for a global nuclear war would be like a first grader applying to enter medical school.  Of all the scenarios we can consider prepping for, global nuclear war would be the toughest.  To survive such an event, if it is even possible, would require much more than most average preppers could afford or even attempt.  There would be so many things to prep for, such as long term pure water source, power generation, farming skills & equipment, seeds & garden chemicals in storage, weapons & training, medical training & equipment, etc., etc., etc.

      I personally don’t prep for such an event as I don’t think such an event is remotely likely.  There would be no winners.   The concept of MAD, mutually assured destruction, has kept the nuclear superpowers from ever fighting.  It is what is keeping the US from getting directly involved in the Ukraine.  If we ever experienced global nuclear war, what remained would not be worth me living for.  I’d hope the first nuke hit my family.  Our planet would respond in such a way that the folks that survived would eventually starve, if not slowly be killed by radiation poisoning. The event is called nuclear winter where most if not all crops would fail.

      Granted, such a war is technically possible and I know the major nuclear powers have the weapons needed.  Back in the early 80’s, I was a Minuteman Missile Combat Crew Commander, in Minot, North Dakota, responsible for a minimum of 10 Minuteman missiles… each with 3 nuclear warheads.  I even launched a Minuteman, obviously without the nuclear components in the warheads, from California out to the Pacific test range.  Even back then, the Minuteman was very accurate.  We aimed at a building on Kwajalein Atoll… and hit it.  On base, we trained in simulators to fight all sorts of wars… from small limited ones to full out global nuclear war.

      What I do prep for and what worries me the most, is a rogue state, such as North Korea, launching a limited attack.  A country ruled by one crazy man, who could care less if his countrymen live or die, is a real threat.  He has the weapons needed to attack us, especially using high altitude EMP warheads.  One or two of those going off in the atmosphere above the US would not kill anyone initially but could wipe out our entire electric grid for years.  Government studies show most Americans wouldn’t survive the first year.

      To potentially survive either event, you would need to live well outside cities.  The farther the better.  However most can’t live a life that far away from others, so the next best option is to live on a homestead somewhat close to a city.  My farm is about an hour outside of Memphis.  You would need to prep for self sufficiency and have a plan to deal with safety from a mass migration after a crisis.

      • 3

        Hey! Thanks for the response, and point taken about potentially biting off more than I can chew. But I’m not necessarily trying to prep for the apocalyptic. Based on some limited research I’ve done, the idea of an unsurvivable nuclear “nuclear winter” is not a foregone conclusion (?). The source below is “Nuclear War Survival Skills.” Granted, I think the edition I’m reading is from the 80’s so it’s quite possible I’m off base.

        Either way, one of my big takeaways has been that if you’re out of the immediate blast zone (and the zone of heaviest fallout) you dramatically improve your chances of surviving at least the initial shock. So if, for example, I can find a desirable location to live that is only 50-100 miles from my current location, I might consider a move.

        What comes after the initial 2-4 weeks is “out of scope” for my current project. I’m just focused on giving my family a chance to “stay in the fight” should the unthinkable happen.

        Screen Shot 2022-03-03 at 5.09.15 PM

      • 2

        Based on some limited research I’ve done, the idea of an unsurvivable nuclear “nuclear winter” is not a foregone conclusion (?). The source below is “Nuclear War Survival Skills.” Granted, I think the edition I’m reading is from the 80’s so it’s quite possible I’m off base.

        I’d say yes, that data is unreliable from that far back.  That is back when I was in the Air Force.  That was back before everything in our life was controlled by computers & micro chips.

        For example, back then we really didn’t understand EMP real well & they would have had little impact on society, as computers & electronics were in their infancy.  With our Minuteman missiles, we had an option called high altitude fusing burst.  It was designed to not reenter the atmosphere but explode up high.  Its job was to temporarily disrupt communications.  Today, with all our electronics, just two properly placed EMP weapons in our atmosphere could send us back to the stone age.

        Back then, we were never briefed on nuclear winter… it was not even mentioned.  It was never considered by our planners.  But since then, we know have a much greater understanding on how easy it is to change climate on a global scale.  We are seeing it happen now on a slow scale.  Scientists now can look back in time & see how climate changed due to certain events, such as huge volcanic eruptions or asteroid strikes… such as the one that wiped out every dinosaur.

        Scientists now know our climate is very fragile.  They know there are some tipping points where it just can’t recover.  This happens naturally thru time, think ice ages for example, but can greatly be influenced by mankind.  Someone would have to stick their head in a hole to not believe the results from thousands of nuclear explosions going off all at once wouldn’t have dire consequences for global climate.  If one large asteroid strike could change climate enough to make all dinosaurs go extinct as well as 75% of all other life, do you really thing global nuclear war wouldn’t be worse for climate?

      • 3

        Thanks for posting this Redneck. I really appreciate having your experience and perspective.

      • 4

        One more question for you, Redneck. Are you sure you’re not describing Putin here? 

        “A country ruled by one crazy man, who could care less if his countrymen live or die, is a real threat.”

        Not trying to sound snarky here. It’s a genuine question. I don’t know enough about how Russian government works. Are there enough sane people with enough power surrounding Putin to prevent such a cataclysm? He seems unhinged and I wouldn’t put it past him to just say “fuck it, launch the nukes come what may.” 

      • 1

        I was thinking the same thing. Putin put the nuclear threat on the table for the first time ever. He has said there is no reason to even have a world if Russia is not in it. I don’t know what he means by that. No one wants to obliterate Russia. He is not the man he used to be. He seems to be angry and emotional. Puffy face, possibly from steroid use, either performance-enhancing or to treat an undisclosed medical condition. Possibly Parkinson’s, maybe cancer. He designed this attack very badly, unlike what one would have expected. I’m not sure he’s reasoning in a rational way. I read that he fired one general for refusing an unethical order. 

        i don’t think it will happen here, but I think it might. I would prepare to be locked down at home for two weeks.  But you’re right, the worst case scenario would not be worth surviving. But a somewhat better case scenario is more likely. 

      • 2

        I agree with your reading of the writing on the wall. It’s pretty clear and easy to see.

      • 2

        I think there are plenty of sane people in the military chain of command of both the US and Russia.  I think you are seeing this in the Ukraine as many in their military, especially the ground troops, don’t want to fight against a country they consider kindred.   Even if Putin were to say launch, he doesn’t have the launch codes.  The General Staff is who actually orders the launch… and they would have to agree to destroy the world including all their own families.

        When I look at Putin, I say what circumstances would make him want to destroy everything?  What does he have to gain from such a war?  What does he have to lose.  As considered the richest man in Europe, and possibly the world, why would he want to give that up?  This is a man that wants & expects the best life has to offer.  Do some research on his wealth, his properties, his planes & helicopters… even his watch collection.  You will find a bully that loves life & lives it to the fullest.  In my book, that is not someone that simply throws it all away.  This man always has a plan and a reason for doing everything.  We might not agree with his logic, but he has a reason for doing everything.  Yes he is feared by many in his country but he likewise is afraid of his own people.  That is why he always attempts to control the news they get to see… such as in China.

        Now North Korea is a different story.  Kim Jong-un is a completely different leader.  No one in his country will disobey anything he has to say.  He thinks of himself as a god and all his people see him as one likewise.  Stepping down or being removed from office is not a possibility.  He only loses his job when he dies.  If anyone were to attack him to attempt to remove him from office, he most certainly would strike back with everything he has.  There is no life for him after ruling has kingdom.  IMO, he is our greatest threat.  I think out government sees him the same way.  

      • 1

        He may have a fatal illness. When he said Why should the world even exist if Russia is not in it?, he may have meant if he is not in it. He may choose to pull the walls down around him the way Samson did. 

        I hope those under him would refuse to carry out such an order. 

      • 1

        Remember bullies get their way by threatening people & picking on people that can’t fight back.  They never fight the baddest dude in the room.

      • 1

        Many people here are just saying this to reassure themselves and find any reason to block out the horrific alternative possibility. At this point, it would be like a family of lambs finding themselves in a lion cage and one of them saying “Remember, lions don’t always eat lambs….”  There will only be one option here: Say f you to the lion and be ready to launch missiles.  We have no way to know if he has altered the nuclear control chain or has kidnapped the families of those who are to carry out his insane orders. We have no insight. There is only one choice.

      • 4

        There will only be one option here: Say f you to the lion and be ready to launch missiles.

        Well that is exactly what we do.  The baddest dude, with his allies, has taken steps to kill the Russian economy and are supplying Ukrainians with the weapons of war.  Think Vietnam in reverse.  Hell, even lots of Americans are going over there to fight.

        But please don’t be so cavalier regarding nuclear war.  It is the last option and no sane person wants it.  No one wins and possibly, no one survives.  Our missiles are always ready to launch.  There are two officers in each launch control center every moment of every day… and have been for decades.  Minot has 15 of them, one for each squadron of 10 missiles.  These launch centers are far underground and hang on 4 huge shock absorbers.  The huge blast door only opens rarely and only when a proper code has been given by the security police topside.  Only once in my career did I insert launch keys, and I don’t mind saying that scared me greatly.  The next message we received was either gonna back us down… or end the world.  That is a lot for a young 20 something year old lieutenant to have on his shoulders.  But we were trained to do it.

        Our missile submarines are likewise on constant alert.  The third component of the triad, our land based bombers, are no longer on nuclear alert.  That ended in 1991.  In my day, back in the early 80s, there would be several B-52 bombers parked and ready for immediate launch.  They were fully fueled and armed with nukes.  Their crews, on a normal day could carry on life around base and didn’t have to stay with the planes, but when an alert was given, red flashing lights went off all around base & those crews would hop in their trucks & race back to their planes.  Everyone else got off the roads.

      • 1

        Is there any bad dude besides Putin and the much weaker Zelensky? 

        At what point will the West be willing to send in troops? I agree with the need for caution, but we may eventually be forced to do it. Would any number of Ukrainian deaths be enough?

      • 1

        I think Putin is the one being cavalier here. If he’s bluffing, he’s convinced me of his insanity. He knows the calculation we are making:If we bow to his demands here, he will not stop. We have no choice but to prepare to engage on his level and that means nuclear, according to the threats he has been making.

      • 2

        Really appreciate you sharing your perspective, Redneck, esp. given your relevant experience. At the very least it’s interesting to learn about and understand. I tend to agree with your threat assessments, albeit based on less information. (I try to keep reasonably informed about global events, but my politics experience and general nerdery have always veered national and sub-national.)

        I also appreciate the whole thread, so thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts… better to worry and parse it with you all than on my own.

      • 1

        If they are more powerful than anyone else in the room, they take what they want. Zelensky is impressive,  but not nearly as powerful as Putin. I doubt that NATO is going to fight even when he invaded NATO countries.

      • 1

        That’s exactly what Putin is counting on and that’s exactly why we are forced to expect a very very rapid escalation to nuclear.

      • 1

        Putin is not irrational. He has made it clear for several years that he will not allow NATO to ring Russia with offensive weapons. Ukraine is Russia’s Cuban Missile Crisis. Read his very public speeches about this over the years.

        I think NATO/US will continue their policy of not directly fighting the Russians. The Germans cannot field a brigade, the French needed commercial airliners to get their troops to North Africa a few years ago  (no airlift capacity) and President Biden made it clear we won’t fight or give the Ukranians aircraft.

        It is becoming more likely Russia controls Ukraine going forward. The big banks are already looking to scoop up the fantastic bargains in Russian stocks and bonds.

        Putin began moving troops to the border in February 2021, right after Biden became president. Biden was seen as weak and the Afghanistan debacle gave Putin confidence he would not be a decisive leader if Russia made it’s move. He is being proven right.

        Biden wants to keep oil flowing from Russia and will not start WW III over Ukraine.

      • 1

        He had valid security concerns about NATO. But on Wed, Feb 23, Zelensky gave a speech emphasizing the linguistic, historic, and cultural commonalities between the two countries, and the willingness to work together. I heaved a sigh of relief. But Putin immediately responded by invading Ukraine, unleashing totaler Krieg. That was irrational and guaranteed the hatred of most Ukrainians. I would wait and see what Putin does. If he uses the atomic bomb, which would be irrational, reaping nothing useful from it, then we would be forced to use it in return. I hope that his own people would remove him from power before it came to that.

      • 1

        Really interesting sub-thread, guys. Re: if the US/Nato will intervene in Russia, impossible to say, obviously. Have you guys watched this talk from 2014? I highly recommend it if not: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrMiSQAGOS4

      • 1

        I concur, to be brutally honest I think NATO has probably had its day,  If russian attacked NATO  I honestly believe it ewwould probably end up with the UK, US and Poland doing the fighting, perhaps the Baltic states as well, but the main european countries probably will balk.

      • 2

        Many experts on Russian and Eastern European Studies would agree with you. For instance, Fiona Hill who basically echoes what you just said. He’s not the calculating Putin of even 5 years ago. Putin is not only unhinged, but he’s receiving terrible intelligence from within his own military. In an effort to squash dissent, he’s surrounded himself with yes-men, which undermines his goals abroad. Yes, he would sacrifice his own people. Not to mention, Russia has a long history of leaders who sacrifice and starve Russian-speakers – by the millions. 

        Who knows where his head is. I don’t think even Putin knows. Possible cognitive decline? Years born and raised into a war zone can induce physic trauma that is hard to shake. 

        Not be alarmist on Putin. Though the situation in Ukraine has caused our family to increase our preps (food, water and durable goods) in the event of a global food shortage or famine. I still remember being hungry as a child under the former USSR. And there was no food to be found because dear leader shipped it all abroad. Even local farms were raided for the “cause.” 

        For now, I’d say global food shortages and shortages on raw materials for medicine, construction, electronics, etc. is within reason. Anyone’s guess though. 

    • 5

      Really great to hear you love the site!

      Many are feeling concern about a possible nuclear conflict right now. Here’s a VICE.com article that was released today which include a few words from The Prepared: Steel Bunkers, Iodine Pills, and Canned Food: Fear of the Nuclear Apocalypse Is Back.

      • 1

        Thanks, Gideon. I will definitely check this out. 

    • 6

      I’ll repeat what Redneck had to say: Welcome to the forum and welcome to the lifestyle of prepping.

      I also agree with Redneck in saying that you should start by focusing on the basics of food, water, fuel, heat, light… for that 2-4 weeks of heavy fallout and sheltering in place for that time. No need to go out and get hazmat suits and building a special decontamination room, start with the basics first. Those basics will cover you for many disasters such as unemployment, winter storm, power outage, earthquake, or even bunkering in during a nuclear bomb.

      I used to live in southwest Denver metro. What gave me a bit of reassurance is by exploding a few simulated nukes with https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/. To me, the most likely target in CO is Colorado Springs (where NORAD is) and then Denver. By using the nukemap, I saw that I was outside of the blast radius and I mostly had to deal with fallout.

      Today I am going to research more into fallout strategies and what we can do about it. I like to research topics I don’t know much about and share it with others to help others and cement it further in my mind. I’ll post on here once I get that written up.

      Oh, and I follow The Prepared’s on reddit (r/ThePrepared) and saw this post a few weeks ago talking about potential nuclear targets. I also see various maps going around on Facebook prepping groups. I don’t think there is any definitive list of targets and it’s more of people just making up their own maps/ideas with what they think are targets. So take any you see with a grain of salt. It would be safe to say thought that if you live in a major metropolitan area with alarge population and an international airport, have a military base nearby, nuclear power plant, or other valuable target area, you should be a little more weary than the farmer in rural Kansas.

      • 9

        Believe me, there is no definitive list of targets.  Back in the day, all of us launch crews for the 15 launch control centers would meet for a pre-departure briefing, prior to heading out to the sites.  Often the intelligence officer would brief us on a given missile’s target package (we had 150 missiles).  Obviously, I can’t say what the targets were but they were very varied and some made little sense.  I personally didn’t want to think about where mine would go in event of a war.  I most certainly knew all of us were targets.

        Like you, most people consider blast radius and maybe wind carried fallout.  What most folks don’t consider is what happens to the planet if hundreds or thousands of nuclear weapons were to be used.   Read up on the year without summer, which occurred in 1816 and lead to food shortages, or other discussions on volcanic winter.  IMO, even the best prepared wouldn’t survive a full nuclear exchange.  My point is, if your locale is targeted, then it is very likely you are talking all out nuclear war.  I’m afraid if you initially survived, you would end up wishing you hadn’t.

      • 6

        I just finished a forum post about what I learned today on how to survive a nuclear attack.

      • 3

        Awesome, Robert. I’ll check out your post. Totally aligned with your point about focusing on the basics. 2-4 week timeline and many of the things I’ll be done will serve multiple purposes (eg get me prepared for other scenarios for which I’m not already adequately set up). 

      • 2

        Robert – I’m curious, when you used the Nukemap, what sources did you use to plug in targets? I see that it allows to select locales but doesn’t seem to give any guidance about likely targets (eg missile silos in the area). How did you approach this? 

      • 2

        For potential targets, I thought “If I was an enemy country, where would I hit…” 

        In Colorado I came up with Colorado Springs with NORAD, Denver with its big population, and it doesn’t look like there are any nuclear power plants here.


        I then used NukeMaps to drop simulated bombs on those two locations, trying different sizes, going into the advanced settings and setting a high wind speed in the direction of my house, etc… Just running through various scenarios I could think of. 

        In the future I may do more research on where other military bases or other targets of interest near me.

      • 1

        Makes sense. Thanks for clarifying 🙏

    • 2

      I think you are right on target, so to speak. The unspeakable is no longer unspeakable and your analysis is sound, as are your questions. I hope someone here will provide some answers. Your experience in this field or lack thereof has nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of your inquiry.

      • 1

        Thanks, Bobcov. Appreciate the feedback. 

    • 4

      Welcome to the forum and the world of preparedness. I’m no expert in this realm, but I heartily agree that preparation work for a nuclear strike is a HUGE task. But one thought did pop into my head. When I did the research to move to my current home, I ran across a book called “Strategic Relocation – North American Guide to Safe Places” by Joel and Andrew Skousen. ISBN 978-1-56861-262-1. I don’t mean to run afoul of any forum rules, or to “endorse” this book over any of the other material available out there. But the book does have state by state maps for the whole USA that show (stationary) nuke targets (bases, silos). And it does a pretty good job of covering a lot of other factors that go into making the decision about a possible move: land, water, politics, transportation, taxes, crime rate, etc. The book was helpful to me in a lot of preparation realms when I was new at this. Also, the Sane Prepper Principles on this site are great for not letting the task seem overwhelming. Remember also that if you have enough water in the house to handle your family’s needs for 24 hours, you are far better prepared than 90% of the people in our country. And I heartily agree with the other posts on this site from our friends with military experience, start with the basics! Peace of mind about protecting your family WILL become real as you go along. Welcome!

      • 2

        That book sounds awesome. I will check it out. Thanks for the rec. 

      • 1

        This link discusses Homestead property selection, but talks about the selection process which can be applied to any relo decision. Also mentioned is “Strategic Relocation, North American Guide to Safe Places, 4th Edition by Joel M. Skousen and Andrew Skousen “. Their whole website also has so good info in general.

        How to Choose a Homestead Property

    • 6

      Hi. Folks make a choice about where to live based on many things (proximity to work, warm weather, water, mountains, cities, farms, blah blah blah). If you have the luxury of living anywhere, there are certainly other situations to consider (e.g. coastal flooding, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.) Seems nuclear attack would be pretty far down the list of reasons to move away from a place. Still, as a bit of a sidebar, I can report that a couple weeks ago I started checking my first aid kits and went on Amazon to get some ThyroSafe potassium iodide tablets. They were not then but are currently sold out and the ThyroSafe website posted this

      “UPDATE AS OF MARCH 2, 2022: We are currently experiencing high order volumes of Thyrosafe. Delivery of your order may be delayed.

      At this time, we are not taking new orders. Please check back on March 9, 2022 to check on the status to place an order.”

      This tells me the herd is afraid. And, you know what? The herd may be right! But, I want to make sure I don’t let the frenzy dictate my actions.  If you have the means and desire and capacity to move, you should certainly do what you think is best for you and yours.  I’m just saying, moving is pretty disruptive (assuming there isn’t an imminent nuclear attack), so you may want to consider the long list of other things you can do.

      • 4

        Very good points about picking a location. Wouldn’t want to move to avoid a nuke only to put my family in harm’s way with several far more likely scenarios. I hadn’t considered this explicitly. Appreciate it. 

        Wasn’t aware of Thyrosafe but sounds like something I should read up on. 

      • 4

        Case in point, I believe it was the Deputy Mayor of the city of Mariupol was on BBC saying they had no power, no heat, no water, no wastewater treatment… the city is reportedly surrounded and now w/o those services.   Semi-relatedly, I saw reports that the nuclear power facility that had been taken over (?) by Ru forces is now indicating higher than normal radiation levels.  Facing either of those scenarios (failing infrastructure, nuclear power facility on the fritz) is probably more likely than all out nuclear war… it’s just that the stakes are higher if the latter occurs : /

      • 1

        That’s what I was saying up above. Living near a nuclear plant makes you a target.

        Russia attacks Ukraine nuclear plant as invasion advances

      • 2

        Ordered my potassium iodide January 19. Now no longer available. Reading your post leads to think of another scenario: The chaos from convincing the populous of a nation that your intention is to strike. If Putin does that, but doesn’t strike, you have a whole other set of on-going problems. No nuclear winter, just complete societal breakdown. That’s when you would want to have made agreements with like-mind people ahead of time on defenses, restoring order, and so forth until government can bring civil control back into line. It could be a very violent period, but maybe not more than 6 weeks max? Not sure. Never thought about this particular problem.

      • 1

        That’s a really interesting take, Bobcov. Thanks for sharing. 

    • 7

      This is a topic that has been on my mind as well lately (for obvious reasons), and after spending about half a day of searching, the most up-to-date “official” maps of potential nuclear attack targets I could find are from a 1990 FEMA publication. (I found more recent maps produced by individuals and organizations not affiliated with the U.S. government.)

      The FEMA publication is titled “FEMA Risks and Hazards: A State by State Guide (FEMA-196/September 1990)”. It’s challenging to find a PDF of this document, but you can find the maps for each state here: https://imgur.com/a/Q6o01

      As others have already mentioned, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to a nuclear attack (e.g., number of nukes launched, yield of the warheads, number of nukes intercepted en route, etc.), but based on what I’ve seen and read, if I were to pick a place to live based solely on maximizing my chances of (initially) surviving nuclear war, it would be somewhere along the southern half of the Oregon coast. There are no obvious targets there, and because of the prevailing winds (i.e., the fact that they generally go from west to east), exposure to fallout is likely to be much less of a concern. Of course, there are other concerns in Oregon (wildfires, tsunamis, etc.), and even if you survived the initial nuclear exchange, there is the issue of nuclear winter (in addition to societal collapse, at least in the targeted countries).

      A good, relatively brief (~15–20 min. read) reference on what to expect from a nuclear attack can be found here: https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/devastating-effects-of-nuclear-weapons-war/

      As for myself, I live between two potential targets (an Army ammunition plant and a research university that does research for DoD), and based on NUKEMAP, my house is within the 5 psi overpressure zone for a moderate-sized warhead that strikes either target, meaning it would likely be destroyed. I fervently hope that the current situation does not spiral into nuclear war, but I’ve accepted that there’s not much I can do to change my situation. (I still do prep for other scenarios though.) That said, I don’t have any children, so it’s probably easier for me to accept this than someone who is a parent.

      Regardless, best of luck with your preparations.

      • 2

        I think that reference on what to expect was exceptionally well written.  Thanks for providing the link.

      • 2

        Yes, thank you for that link, very level-headed.

    • 3

      One source I came across is from a guy named David Teter, who appears to have a background in nuclear matters, but I admit I have not dug into his bonafides. He is compiling some info at https://github.com/davidteter/OPEN-RISOP and shared some graphics via social media. You can read about his data sourcing for this on the site. I am not an expert so cannot vouch for the methodology.


    • 4

      Hello and welcome. Kudos on taking steps to improve your situation. I also hope that you like it here.

      You are correct that the decision of whether to relocate is both a fundamental, ‘first’ consideration – in that it affects nearly everything you do. Yet it is also a ‘later’ decision, in that moving large distances can be costly or difficult.

      I think Redneck’s advice is good; I would also suggest starting with the basics. I’m a fan of the phrase:

      > Start where you are
      > Use what you have
      > Do what you can

      If you are just getting started, it may be easier and more helpful to begin with the basics. Perhaps:

      Actions like these may be faster and easier to work on. And they may be more likely to be helpful or needed.
      If you have kids, for example, storing some extra food in the house – that they will eat – could be useful any time you can’t make it to the store, or don’t want to go to the store (e.g. bad weather; to avoid a crowd).

      If you haven’t read it already, the Getting Started Guide is quite good.

      You may also be able to work on both in parallel. As you are starting out, get some of the basics covered – food, water, and discussing plans with your family. You can continue to research good places to live while you are learning skills or collecting supplies. There is nothing wrong with doing research so you can make a more informed decision, and choosing to stay where you are until later.

      Best of luck to you.

      • 2

        Thanks for your input! I’ll check out the resources you’ve linked. At to your point about doing things in parallel, that’s absolutely my approach. I’m a “think big, start small” guy through and through. So the nuclear research is just that at this point, research. I’m actively working on more actionable basics. 

    • 4

      Hi, J,

      Lots of good advice. I’ll just add that the difference between now and back when is the communication is much better. In fact the military has opened a deconfliction line between US and RU to avoid a mistake. The big fear on either side is a first strike, there is a short fuse for launch so as not to be disarmed. Being able to communicate quickly eases that tension some I’d think and helps avoid 3rd party troublemakers instigating a confrontation.

      I’ll also add that while nuke winter is a threat with high consequences, the odds are low, it is called Mutually Assured Destruction for a reason.  As well mitigation would be high cost for low odds and in a truly apocalyptic exchange there really wouldn’t be much place to hide. If you must live near a city, it is likely to be a target because war is about economics and so are cities.

      But general prep is multipurpose and reasonable measures are never wasted! In fact any planning and preparation you make for say, a winter blizzard, or pink slip in your pay envelope will likely be applicable to a slatewiper too. Work on shelter, water, food for 3 days, then 3 weeks, then 3 months.

      By all means study NWSS, it can be downloaded free here in PDF, WayBack Machine (archive.org)

      Another resource is windy.com. It shows lots of weather data and, not surprisingly, wind at surface to high elevation. Right now it shows low elevation winds blowing almost north out of W. TX. toward Denver along with the normal west to east high level jet. Of course you may not have time to consult the web while shoveling dirt through the window onto the bedroom floor for a little extra shielding but it gives you an idea of where your exposure is ahead of time, though again, a limited exchange seems pretty pointless.

      IIRC the keys to avoiding radiation are: time, distance, shielding—some reading sticks with you, LOL

      • 4

        Another way to phrase MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, is if any power were to launch a nuclear strike, all parties will most certainly be destroyed.  Russia has the arms to destroy our country, but what good would it do them?  Their country would most certainly be destroyed in return.  Why have a fight where there are no winners… and most likely humanity would cease to exist?  Keep in mind, a single asteroid caused all dinosaurs to go extinct as well as 75% of all other species.  Nuclear winter, from global nuclear war would be much worse.

        IMO, the only real threat is from lesser powers or groups that either use the few nuclear weapons they have or gain a weapon from the black market.  Imagine what a small weapon detonated from a cargo ship in New York harbor would do to our economy.  How would you know who did it?  Who would you strike at?  Now that is something to worry about & prep for, IMO.

      • 2

        MAD fails if a major nuclear nation is controlled by someone who literally is mad. Putin is delusional and has threatened other major powers with nuclear force. He either doesn’t believe the results of full nuclear exchange or doesn’t care.

      • 2

        IMO, Putin is a thug and a bully… but not delusional.  He has a plan for everything he does.  Now that doesn’t mean every plan works & I think his attack on Ukraine is going to be a failure.  It will be his Vietnam, with us now providing the constant flow of arms & goods to the fighters opposing him.  I believe he is considered to be the richest man in Europe, so no matter what, he has a great life ahead of him.  There is no reason for him to destroy his own country or the world.  His military leaders could always refuse any order he gives.

        Now North Korea is different.  Kim Jong-un is truly delusional and everyone there worships him as a god and will do whatever he says.  If he were to lose his position, he has nothing to live for and I feel he would attack with everything he has if threatened.

        But you are right.  MAD only works with rational decision makers.  In the past, you wouldn’t include North Korea in the MAD discussion as they didn’t have enough weapons to destroy the US.  However with their super EMP weapons and missiles now with the distance to reach the mainland US, things have changed.  Our hope against him is our newish anti missile defense system.  This system is nowhere near large enough to remotely stop an all out attack from a major player but it could shoot down what few missiles he has.  If you note, that is where our missile defenses are located.  Not to stop an attack over the north pole from Russia, but to stop an attack from the Pacific region.


      • 3

        If Putin is only pretending to be a mad man, he deserves an Oscar.

      • 1

        The Organic Prepper has a new article up this morning with links to disquieting news. Belarus is reported to have voted to remove its nuclear sanctions, which would permit Russia to move nuclear weapons there, presumably to use against Ukraine. Also another link to a source reporting that Putin moved his entire family to a bunker city in Siberia in the last few days.

      • 1

        Not such a credible source:”Putin ‘moves family members to Siberian ‘underground city’ designed to survive a nuclear war’, says Russian professor who also claimed Vladimir is suffering from secret illness”  The Daily Mail using a source that seems questionable. Not saying it isn’t possible, but confirmation from another source would be good before believing this.

      • 2

        Daily mail reported a few days ago that Putins family had been shipped to an underground city in Siberia .

      • 2

        Thanks Pops. I picked up a copy of NWSS on my kindle a couple of weeks ago. Working through it currently.

        Your points about prep being multi-purpose really resonate with me. 

    • 2

      It has been suggested that Putin may be performing a bit of the “Madman Theory”… maybe, maybe not.  but it has all of us talking!  MSN.com compiled thoughts on nukes from Warren Buffet… some of them go back decades.  seems the smartest guy(s) in the room think it’s inevitable…even if not right now.  Be prepared!


      • 4

        Be prepared!

        Who here is even remotely prepared to survive after a nuclear exchange?  Are you?

        Let’s set aside the real possibility of nuclear winter for a bit, where even the best prepared are unable to grow crops.  Lets just talk EMP first.  Just 2 super EMP weapons detonated in the atmosphere above the US would knock out all power & much electronics.  A super power would detonate more.  Government studies show up to 90% of the US population could perish in the first year.  90 %.  Just from EMP that kills no one directly.  Are you prepared for even that possibility?

        Then throw in a couple of hundred or thousands of nuclear weapons exploding on US soil.  Tens of millions, or more deaths immediately.  Much more within the next year.  All major and many minor cities destroyed.  No power, no transportation, what little food that is grow rotting in the fields, water supplies contaminated, etc. etc.  You prepared for that?

        OK, so you are super prepper, and you survived all that and your property is secure.  You have plenty of garden seed in storage… but for some odd reason the sun isn’t shinning real bright & it is much cooler than normal.  UV radiation from the sun is much greater too.  Your crops fail.  You die.  If you don’t think nuclear winter is possible just research volcanic winter.  Just one big volcanic eruption can greatly impact the entire world’s climate.  This has happened numerous times in recorded history.  Do you not think climate would be impacted by many thousands of nuclear explosions along with thousands of cities on fire, all refineries on fire, forests on fire, etc.

        My point is, even the best prepared will more than likely not survive such a war.  The best prepared would not survive a very simple EMP attack.  Would you want to survive in such a world?  Please folks, don’t equate nuclear war with any other war fought in history.  

    • 3

      We are ASSUMING there will be fallout, which as the case in the 60s 70s, 80s, But since then ALL sides realise the stupidity of Ground Burst nukes, thus most are now AIR burst which produces little or no fallout. Next in the Cold war era missile technology was fairly primitive and ICBMs and other nukes were in the MULTI MEGATON range in order to hopefully take out a target. Nukes back then were lucky to be acurate to within 30 miles of the target. So they needed to be huge. These days most nukes are so accurate thanks to advances in technology they are now SUB KILOTON devices that can take out a much more precise target.

      Even if there was some fallout out, it is assumed it will cover everything, everywhere, but as Hiroshima and Cherbobyl proved most fall out travelled directionally. Instead of mistaken fears about fallout which BOTH sides know would affect them as well as their enemies, we would be wiser in focusing on low energy, enhance EMP devices going off at VERY high altitude ( no fallout) that would cripple most modern electrical systems.

      Loads of outdated and misinformation about nukes floating around, much of it dating back to the 70s when nukes had to be HUGE megaton devices, basically because the guidance systems were so innacurate you needed to flatten an area up to 30 sq miles to ensure you destroyed the target. Now with GPS etc nukes are sub kiloton and can be delivered very accurately right over the top of the target, detonated at height, thus taking out the target, with little fallout.

      And the greater tragedy is that because they are smaller and more accurate it actually INCREASES the chance some idiot will use them.

      • 4

        Bill, I couldn’t agree with you more regarding low yield, high EMP weapons that go off in the atmosphere.  As I’ve stated in a couple of discussions here, they are IMO the most serious threat we face.  Even a small nation such as North Korea has the weapons and the means to get it above our country.  These are actually the easiest nukes to deliver.  You don’t have to worry about reentry into the atmosphere, which takes a lot of skill.   As you state, most electrical systems would be crippled as would our electric grid.  That would be more than enough to send us back to the stone age.  It would not be pretty.

        I will disagree with your assessment of ground bursts.  Even our first weapons were air bursts.  Little Boy was detonated 1500 feet above Hiroshima.  Even back then, our military knew air bursts would destroy more of soft targets, such as cities.  However back in the cold war and I’m sure even today there were plenty of ground bursts planned.  They were, and are, used to take out hardened targets such as underground command centers & hardened missile silos.  So take my old base, Minot ND for example.  There were and are 150 underground missile silos and 15 underground launch control centers.  That is just one base.  Each one of those would have been targeted with at least one ground burst weapon.  And guess where a bunch of our nukes were targeted?

        I will also disagree with your assessment of accuracy and yield in the cold war.  Our first solid fuel ICBM, the Minuteman I carried a single W59 warhead with a yield of 1 megaton.  It was not terribly accurate.  But by 1970, we had the Minuteman III that carried three W62 weapons with a yield of only 170 kilotons of TNT each.  Starting in 1979 some missiles were switched to the W78 with yields of 350 kilotons each.  These were MIRVs, meaning multiple Independent reentry vehicles.  Each warhead could hit different targets.


        In 1979 I started my service at Minot as a launch officer.  Each launch control center controlled 10 Minuteman III missiles.  We had the CDB version which stood for command data buffer.  CDB was a method to transfer targeting information from a Minuteman Launch Control Center to an individual missile by communications lines. Prior to CDB, new missile guidance would have to be physically loaded at the launch facility; the process usually took hours.  Using a keyboard, which was brand new technology back then, we could retarget our missiles within minutes as opposed to hours and days.

        Accuracy was classified, but your statement regarding accuracy of 30 miles is WAY off.  Maybe somewhat accurate with the first liquid fueled ICBMs but not with Minuteman.  I’ll give you an example.  In 1981, I was lucky enough to be selected to launch one of our missiles.  Periodically the Air Force selects an operational missile from the field to be tested.  It is removed from the silo, the nuclear component of the warhead is removed & replaced with telemetry data and a self destruct devise, and shipped to a silo at Vandenberg AFB on the California coast.  Three 2 man launch crews go with the missile and we rotate shifts over around a month’s time to bring the missile back up.  Then on launch day, 2 crews are selected to turn launch keys.  I was in the first crew.  We turned keys & while the 2nd crew changed out panels to give the missile its 2nd launch vote, we scurried up the ladder in time to watch the missile erupt from its silo.

        In that test, one of our warheads was aimed for a building out in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  We hit the building.  That was not luck.  As our accuracy improved, our weapon yield was able to decrease.  Missile accuracy is measured in CEP, circular error probable.  The first Minuteman IIIs had a CEP of around 200 meters, thus the sub megaton weapons.  It has steadily improved thru the years.  The liquid fuel Titan I missile, which started service back in 1961 was less accurate, with a CEP of 1400 meters and carried a single 3.75 megaton weapon.

      • 3

        Glad to be corrected my friend :),   Our Polaris missiles were supposed to be fairly accurate, but the Russian stuff coming the other way was reported to be far less accurate. But in fairness to me it was the 1970s when I  was trained as an NBC (US CBN) specialist. The main thing I was interested in was as the bloody things got more accurate everyone appeared to reduce the yield. 🙂   I also note that modern Cruise missiles tipped with nukes can even pick which door to go through 🙂

      • 4

        Yep, the more accurate the weapon, the less yield required.  Nowadays, some weapons even have adjustable yield, where you set the yield dependent on the target chosen.

        Didn’t think I’d ever be able to correct you.  🙂  Here is a picture of the Minuteman I launched.  Seems the older I get, the more I fondly look back on those days when I served my country.

        Minuteman Glory Trip 82GM

      • 2

        Thank you for your service to keeping the peace.

    • 2

      Good article I read today related to this discussion. Poses the question: Are we, as a society, being too blasé about the threat of a nuclear attack. Draws some interesting parallels to our complacency about epidemics prior to COVID: https://adjacentpossible.substack.com/p/the-day-before?s=r

    • 2

      The White House issued a warning yesterday about Russian cyberattacks on the US based on intelligence they had gathered. I have a government job (VA healthcare) and we have been getting a steady stream of emails warning about cyberattacks.  I am particularly concerned about EMP attacks with the current political atmosphere.  With all the warnings, I feel something is in the works….and I worry EMP attacks would devastate the nation 

      • 2

        A very good article which I can no longer find, reported that three small EMP devices at high altitude  would do massive harm the north American civiilian power / telecoms infrastructure ( military is well hardened)  and it would take 2 to 3 years alone to replace those funny power transformers that are mounted on top of poles in many US cities , and up to ten years to rebuild damaged power station generation equipment. It would only take ONE small EMP device to cripple most of the UK civilians systems.

        Its the greatest possible advert for each individual to have back up PV/ Wind/ etc basck ups stored in containers acting as faraday cages.

        I have some small portable PV panels that generate 12VDC and 5VDC plus some dry cell power packs up to 5000 Milliamp than I keep in full metal containers so at least I can run small stuff if their is an EMP or Carrington type issue

      • 5

        Bill, when not being used, I keep one of my solar generators in a Faraday enclosure.  My understanding is that solar panels, if not connected to a system, should survive an EMP or Carrington type event.  However to be extra safe, about half of my solar panels are in homemade Faraday enclosures.  I put two panels together, wrapped them with thick wrapping paper, then wrapped that with aluminum foil.  Repeated that again to have two layers of protection, then wrapped the whole with cardboard, to protect the foil.




      • 3

        EXCELLENT, absolutely 1 million percent EXCELLENT, best reply I’ve read EVER.    Total common sense prepping, no fannying around worry about EMP, just getting on and planning practical mitigations.  10/10 for forethought and planning Sir. Wish folks were more like you.

      • 4

        They mocked my tin foil hat. But they’re taking me seriously now! Seriously, excellent prep there.

      • 3

        Thanks guys.  Seems to me every prepper should have a good supply of heavy duty aluminum foil on hand.  It would be handy in any crisis plus can be used to make Faraday enclosures.  Costco or similar is a great spot to get the really big rolls for a good price.  For an even bigger & better roll, I got a huge one at a restaurant supply.

        Any cardboard box wrapped in foil makes a perfect Faraday enclosure.

      • 4

        I saw this as well Holly. Attacks on .gov, businesses and infrastructure could have a wide range of effects, like the ransomware attack on the Colonial oil pipeline last year, or the DDS attack on Ukraine banks and government a couple of days before the invasion.

        putin was almost certainly misinformed about his own state of readiness, and perhaps about America’s desire to have a dictator just like him. And definitely about how easy it would be to roll over Ukraine —high level people in his mob are already under arrest.

        Certainly he must know that he has 2 options with respect to the US, either wipe us out at a stroke or keep us out of it. Any large scale attack on the US of any kind would would certainly result in the end of putin—everyone saw what happened to saddam hussein after an even he had no involvement in. I’m not as sure about our government’s willingness to fight for NATO but he will probably keep hands off there as well.

        I think he’ll keep it limited to UA, be as brutal as he needs to be and keep talking about nukes to keep us at arms length. But I’m just some guy on the internet so …

        Having said that, some extra cash on hand and a full tank might be prudent. As a start…   ;^)

      • 4

        Pops, I am praying your assessment is correct. My main worry is that Putin is not thinking clearly and is in fact delusional. Only time will tell. Our family will continue our preparations in the mean time.

    • 3

      Yeah I think you’re totally right, and it’s not so much about the long-term, it’s about being in the right place to begin with so a nuclear war doesn’t affect you so much. You have to survive the initial stages of a nuclear war first of all, but then also have the supplies and knowhow to move forward after such an attack.

      I created a nuclear war survival guide here trying to explain that and other aspects of what this kind of attack would actually be like in reality. It’s different for the UK, granted, but I think the world would somehow pick itself back up even after global nuclear war. A nuclear winter or ‘autumn’ in some cases, don’t think would last for decades. It just sucks that a handful of politicians aroudn the world, the 0.00001% of people on this earth, make stupid decisions to ‘protect’ us that would literally cause millions of deaths.

      No citizenry on earth wants nuclear war, yet the MSM and governments keep pushing for it.

      • 1

        I’m reading your nuclear war survival guide: it’s really well-written and thorough. I mailed it to myself for easy retrieval. It looks to me from what you explain that it would be very unlikely that those living far from the sea would be hit. I hope that’s the case!

    • 2

      The Fimbul Winter

      Not directly related to this but an interesting read on the effects of a sudden drop in crop yields and how the people of the time adjusted.

    • 1

      I’m interested in this too. If you Google “US nuclear targets.” You’ll instantly get a lot of depressing maps. I just did: this was one of many: https://selfsufficientprojects.com/us-nuclear-target-map/

      It looks to me like the western half of Kansas would be your best bet. 

      We’re just going to stay here in central Missouri. Nuclear plant in Fulton, research medical reactor in Columbia, and an air force base west of here. I was wondering today if gamma rays usually fall from above or move horizontally along the ground, and if going through miles of houses and fences didn’t slow it down. 

      • 2

        We’re in SW MO. USAF Tinker is a big fat target not shown on that map. Tinker is the largest worldwide logistics hub and AF repair unit in OKC, they maintain nuke cruise missiles,  base E3 AWAKs, and who knows what. They are perfectly upwind from us. But you’re right, Whiteman is the big bullseye. It is the B2 stealth bomber base. Dyess, TX and Ellsworth are the other bomber bases.

        Although, if we’re talking about RU, they are not necessarily partial to military targets, anywhere with a large civilian population has an X on it I’m sure.

        As long as you are outside the initial blast and gamma range (initial radiation isn’t as worrisome with large yield because the blast gets you first) you might make it a while if you can get to shielding.

        More than anyone wants to know… specifically: EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS.

      • 1

        Thank you. I noticed last night that there was a target in SE Oklahoma and wondered why. You have told me. I was looking last night to see if winds west to east from Whiteman AFB would affect us here. 

        In the face of these new nuclear threats and the unprecedented current footing of Russia, it seems likely that they’ll use the atomic or hydrogen bomb somewhere. Maybe a lot of them at once. What they’ve done in Mariupol is shocking and hard to understand. 

        I don’t know what the world should do. Most of us are appalled by the effects of nuclear radiation. Are the Russians not? They know there would’ve massive retaliation.

      • 3

        As I understand, RU still has many tactical nukes vs strategic. Meaning dumb bombs or short range shells or missiles, with “lower” yield. The US has fewer if you can believe the PR, because we theoretically don’t think there can be a limited nuclear war. This pretty clearly indicates RU considers them still to be a viable small battlefield weapon, just another boom.

        This could lead to a really tough situation for the US. How do we respond to a little nuke here or there? The Princeton Plan A simulation starts out with just one tactical hit on a NATO country.