Friday, December 28, 2007

So a nuclear bomb goes off in your AO...

If you're reading this site then you probably already know how big of a nuclear target your area is. You can check out this site to get a good idea if you're not sure. It's easy to believe that your chances are pretty slim if you're anywhere near a nuclear bomb when it detonates. The thing is that nuclear attacks are a lot more survivable than a lot of people seem to think. Sure you're screwed if you're at ground zero when the bomb drops but even if you're just a couple of miles away your chances are pretty good. The farther you are from the blast the better your chances are. While the blast itself would be absolutely devastating the fallout is also extremely dangerous and will end up killing a lot of people. Just surviving the initial blast is the easy part. You have to know what to do to survive for the days and weeks following the blast.

So a nuke goes off close enough to you that you can see the mushroom cloud but it's far enough away that you're not immediately vaporized. What should you do? It really depends on how far away you are from it. If it's close then get down! If you're old enough you'll remember duck and cover drills in school. The blast creates very hot, very heavy winds that will reach people within a few miles of the blast. Those winds will be pushing debris around like in a tornado or a hurricane. Besides the danger of flying debris the winds can burn you badly. Get down on the ground face first. If you're outside find a ditch or get under your car. If you're inside then try to find a room with no windows. You have to act fast. From the time that you see the flash you'll only have a few seconds before the winds reach you. Stay down for at least a few minutes from the time that you see the blast. The key here is, of course, being alert and recognizing the threat. Most people won't realize that the big flash that they just saw was a nuclear bomb going off. While they stand there dumbfounded they'll be ripped to shreds and burned alive.

If it's far off in the distance then you've still got to act fast. Most people will be dumbfounded, afraid and have no idea what to do. Have a plan of action ahead of time. If you're on the interstate then you need to get off of it ASAP. You need to know several alternate routes to get home. This is just one of the reasons why I keep extra gear in my car. I know that I could very well be walking. First of all the bomb will emit an electro magnetic pulse that will fry a lot of the electronics in the area. If it's close enough your car might not even run and it won't be fixable without the appropriate new parts. Another option is bunkering in place. In some cases where you work may just be safer than your home. If you absolutely must get home then get there as fast as you possibly can. It won't take long for the fallout to start to settle, especially if you were relatively close to the blast. You'll die in no time from the radiation if you stay outdoors after a nuclear bomb goes off nearby. You won't do your family any good if you insist on walking 20 miles to get home ASAP and you end up dead before you make it halfway there. If you can't make it home from where you're at within an hour then DON'T GO HOME.

This leads us to another question. Should you stay or should you go? Seeing a nuclear bomb go off just 20 or 30 miles away would make anyone want to turn tail and run. Guess what? That's exactly what most people will be doing. In a perfect world we'll have plenty of notice. In reality our only notice will probably be a mushroom cloud rising on the horizon. By then it's too late to go anywhere. If you're lucky enough to have plenty of notice before a nuclear attack and you have somewhere feasible to go then by all means go. If you get the news from a trusted source before anyone else hears about it (if you actually have a source like that please feel free to give me a call when he tells you that the bomb is about to drop) then you should have no trouble quickly and quietly slipping out of the city ahead of everyone else. If you're like 99.9% of the population you MIGHT be lucky enough to hear some kind of warning on the news ahead of time. If it's a serious enough warning then everyone else will be panicking to get out of dodge right along with you. In that case you'd be better off bunkering in place rather than being stuck on the highway 10 miles out of town when the bomb goes off.

So how the hell are you supposed to "bunker in place" after a nuke goes off? I can hear what you're thinking now. What kind of whackjob has a nuclear bomb shelter? As nice as a bomb shelter would be in the event of a nuclear disaster, technically you don't need one. You just need lots of stuff in between you and the outside when everything is covered with fallout. When a nuclear bomb goes off it vaporizes everything at ground zero which irradiates it and sends it up into the air. That irradiated dust falls wherever the wind blows it. This is fallout. There are a few things to keep in mind about fallout. First of all it loses it's potency over time. It loses 99% of it's lethal intensity after just a couple of days. Also, the radiation that it emits can be stopped by enough mass. Different materials block radiation more effectively. Lead is obviously more effective than air but if there's enough air between you and the radiation then you'll be safe. In other words, if you're in a spot with lots of mass between you and the fallout then you should be good. If you don't have anything between you and the fallout then you can kiss your ass goodbye.

If your house has a basement then you've already got a good start. You basically want to find a wall, set up a table and just pile stuff up around and on top of it. Even more effective would be to build a large shelf that's high enough that you and your family are comfortable underneath it. That way whatever you store on the shelf will already be there and there would be that much less work involved if you ever have to get a shelter set up quickly. If you don't have a basement then find a room in the middle of your home that's as far from any walls as possible and set up the same type of impromptu shelter. If you have things like bricks or sandbags handy before the event then it will make it that much more effective. These things can be stored inconspicuously in a shed, garage or even as landscaping. You also want to seal all of your windows. Duct tape and plastic garbage bags will work.

Once you get everything set up then you'll want to sit tight for a few days. For the first 7 hours the radiation will be at it's most dangerous levels. After a couple of days it should be safe to leave the shelter for short periods of time. For at least the first few weeks that's where you'll want to spend most of your time and you'll definitely want to sleep there. Staying in a small, enclosed room will be very taxing psychologically. You'll want to make sure that you have certain supplies in place and ready to go. You want food that you don't have to cook. You might want a small space heater. You want lots of water. You'll need a bucket to crap in. Some sawdust or lime will help kill the smell. Have some bags handy to line it with to make it easier to empty. Blankets, warm clothing and maybe a small mattress will be good to have, too. A small radio will help keep you up on the news. Small LED flashlights last a long time and would be an ideal source of light. Books and games will help keep you sane.

This type of shelter won't help you if you're really close to the blast and your home is severely damaged. If you feel like you're in a very high risk area then you can either take your chances or you can build a dedicated fallout shelter. This can be as simple as a giant steel tube buried in the ground. The cheap ones start at a few grand. These are just a 4 foot tube with a couple of entry points welded onto it and buried several feet under the ground. If you want to spend more you can get bigger ones (around 10 feet in diameter) built with things like blast valves, air filtration systems, plumbing, beds, underfloor storage and the whole nine yards. Expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $50k for a setup like that. I've seen several other designs ranging from buried concrete rooms to large tanks. What they all have in common is that they're buried at least a few feet underground (around 8 feet underground is generally accepted as 100% protection) and the more comfortable it is the more expensive it gets. If you're preparing for the absolute worst case scenario then this is what you'll want.

This is by no means a complete guide. Do a google search for things like nuclear fallout, nuclear shelters, nuclear disaster, nuclear protection and things like that and you'll find a plethora of information on the subject. I encourage you all to do your own research and to take the threat seriously. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when. Just look at the news and you'll see plenty of evidence for another Cold War in the making.


theotherryan said...

I guess this all comes back to your individual worst case scenario. If you are really worried about a nuclear blast I suggest that you move to a place where a nuclear blast is less likely. I think this is a pretty solid basic guide to surviving a nuclear explosion from a reasonable distance.

The Urban Survivalist said...

I'm not worried about a nuclear blast. I just recognize it as a threat. If I were really worried about it then I'd invest $50k in a shelter. If it does happen then at least I know that I won't be completely screwed. Making an impromptu shelter in your basement won't completely shield you from the radiation but if you do it right and actually STAY IN THE SHELTER for a few days after the blast then you shouldn't receive a lethal dose of radiation poisoning. Just don't be surprised when your future children are born with 6 limbs.

fallout11 said...

Major Nuclear Attack
Odds - very low
Impact - incredibly high

Let me make this crystal clear.
In the event of a major all-out nuclear exchange (full scale nuclear attack), those at GZ will be the lucky ones. Yes, I'm old Airforce, from back in the days of SAC. Believe me when I tell you that the concept of a survivable, winnable nuclear war was and is unadulterated bullsh*t from the ground up. We knew this, the scientists at Los Alamos knew this, the technicians working at Tacoma and Savannah River assembly knew this, and those in charge of civil defense here knew this as far back as the early 1960's (when mutual assured destruction officially replaced overwhelming nuclear superiority as our defacto stratagem). Hell, even the soviets knew it (it turned out after the Soviet Union collapsed).

What I can only describe as a kind of stoic fatalism was emphasized and characterized those responsible for ensuring a first strike/counterstrike capability.
In short, we knew we were all dead (for the most part), as were our loved ones should this horror be unleashed, but we were obligated and duty bound to see it through.

"Civil Defense", much like the concept of a 'winnable' nuclear war, was a sham, pure and simple.
Like hiding in a basement or doorway, duck and cover bullsh*t was going save you from a 25MT (SS-18a) airburst ten miles away?!? Classic, feel-good governmental propaganda, perpetuated upon a gullible and frightened populace. It existed to inspire faith and confidence in the government, that they were "doing something" to protect civilians, and that civilians could somehow do something to protect themselves. Useful busywork, which made people feel more secure in a time of insecurity, and less fearful.

Some of this latter-day revisionism you're hearing (from the same folks who deny peak oil and global warming, incidentally, i.e. "Nuclear War Survival Skills") is just junk science with an clear axe to grind, pure and simple. Hell, even the "survivors" of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (targets of tiny, tactical nuclear weapons by today's standards, under 15kt....30 times weaker than a typical individual MIRV warhead) didn't - Survive, that is. Within a two years, 90% of the survivors themselves were dead.

Look at D.O.D's own official, internal casualty predictions (1989 - available in print). Assuming the US population remained in place and utilized only locally available shelter (i.e. they was a warning/alert), DOD predicted the estimated number of prompt (within 30 days) fatalities at between 80 and 100 MILLION, with an equal number injured via burns, irradiation, flash blindness, etc. If urban centers were evacuated in advance (how long would that take today?), they further postulated 45-55 million dead in the initial attack alone, with an equal injured. This, when the population of the US was only 220 million. I.e. 90% killed or wounded in the initial exchange alone. Then comes the long term effects/aftermath....disease, famine, irradiated crops and livestock, fallout zones, etc.
600 rems = 90% probability of death.
400 rems = 50% probability, with lingering longterm problems assuming you survive.

Now compare this with the rosy Civil Defense/Nuclear War Survival Skills propaganda. Which is lying? Should be obvious.

In short, don't waste your time and resources fretting over trying to survive "nuclear doomsday". You won't. Or wish you hadn't.

The Urban Survivalist said...

I'm not talking about a major nuclear attack where the US unleashes it's arsenal on Russia and Russia responds in kind. Obviously you're not going to get through something like that unless you have a REAL bomb shelter in a semi isolated area with a few years supply of food and a lot of luck. I'm talking more along the lines of another major terrorist attack or even an attack from a country that we're at war with that thinks that they can hurt us worse than they actually can.

fallout11 said...

Ah, gotcha. Quite right, then.
One still finds the occasional nut who has bought into the "we'll be fine!" <*crazed eyes*> mentality.

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