Surviving Nuclear Disasters

Surviving Nuclear Disasters:

The power of science will never be able to overcome the power of nature and Natural disaster time and again reminds us of the fact that there are many things beyond human control and imagination, the recent earthquake and following chain of events in Japan has showed us how limited are our preparations for a disaster of this scale and magnitude. The most worrying thing that concerns us all is the nuclear disaster and unfolding events, where science and technology goes out of control resulting in a major disaster.

Governments and communities at all levels are planning for the survival in the event of a nuclear disaster. But the survival of individuals also will depend upon the preparation that each person makes. Persons ready to take the right action before and following a nuclear disaster will increase their chances of survival.

This article describes what is to be done before and following a nuclear attack or a disaster. You can greatly increase your family’s and your own protection by taking the Some simple steps to Survival, Knowing the Effects of Nuclear Explosions is essential, as nuclear explosion releases vast amounts of energy in three forms:

  1. Light and heat
  2. Blast
  3. Radiation

The amount of energy released depends upon the size and design of the nuclear fission material used in nuclear reactors or nuclear warheads. A wide range of weapons and delivery systems are available with counties that possess those nuclear warheads and reactors that are used extensively as cheap power alternative.

The effects depend upon several factors, if the weapon is exploded high in the air, or on, or near the ground. An air burst usually produces more fire and blast-damage than a ground burst, which results in a big crater and more radioactive fallout. The effects described below can only be approximate since effects depend upon a number of conditions such as weather, terrain, etc.


The blast wave travels more slowly than the heat flash. Several seconds may pass after you have seen the light or felt the heat before the blast wave reaches you, depending on the distance you are from the explosion. It is like the time between seeing the flash of lightning and hearing the sound of thunder. For example, at ten miles from the center of an explosion, it would take about 35 seconds for the blast wave to reach you. If caught in the open during a nuclear explosion, this time can be used to find some protection from the blast wave.

One gets injured by being thrown about by the blast; therefore, keep low. The greatest danger is from flying glass, bricks and other debris. The blast from a 5-megaton explosion could injure people as far away as 15 miles.

The kinds of damage that the blast can do to buildings are:

  • Complete destruction of all buildings three miles from the center of the explosion.
  • Damage beyond repair to buildings three to five miles distant. They would have to be torn down.
  • Major repairs required to buildings five to 10 miles distant before they could be occupied.
  • Light to moderate damage to buildings 10 to 15 miles distant. They could be occupied during repairs.
  • A 20-megaton bomb increases the approximate ranges of damage described above to five, eight, sixteen and twenty-four miles.

These are approximate distances as the strength of buildings is not uniform. For example, reinforced concrete buildings are more blast resistant than wood frame structures. In some areas four miles away from the explosion, concrete buildings might be repairable, while wood frame buildings would be completely destroyed. Windows, of course, are very vulnerable and are apt to be blown in as far away as 25 miles from the explosion.


A nuclear explosion causes both immediate radiation and residual radiation. Immediate radiation is given off at the time of the explosion. It is dangerous only within two or three miles. If you were near the explosion without adequate protection and managed to survive the effects of blast and fire, you could still be seriously affected by immediate radiation.

Residual radiation is given off by the radioactive particles left as “fallout” after the explosion. The danger from fallout would be so great and widespread, Protection against Heat, Blast and Immediate Radiation.

Know the Facts about Radioactive Fallout:

If a nuclear weapon is exploded on, or near, the ground, danger from radioactive fallout is greatest. The force of the explosion may make a crater up to a mile wide and to a depth of one hundred feet. Millions of tons of pulverized earth, stones, buildings and other materials are drawn up into the fireball and become radioactive. Some of the heavier particles spill out around the point of explosion. The rest are sucked up into the mushroom cloud.

This radioactive material is then carried by winds until it settles to earth. This is called “Fallout”. Under some circumstances you may see the fallout; under others you may not. The radioactivity it gives off cannot be seen. You can’t feel it. You can’t smell it. But fallout doesn’t come out of the sky like a gas and seep into everything. It can best be described as a fine to coarse sand carried by the winds. Because the wind direction varies at different heights above the ground, it is not possible to judge from the ground where the fallout will settle. It can settle in irregular patterns hundreds of miles from the explosion.

Because fallout is carried so far and covers such a large area, it could be the greatest danger to the largest number of people in a nuclear war. Even if a country is not hit by nuclear bombs, those exploding in other countries or close to a border could result in serious fallout in many neighboring countries as well, There are four things, which determine the amount of radiation reaching your body from fallout:

  • The time that has passed since the explosion
  • The length of time you are exposed to fallout
  • The distance you are from the fallout
  • The shielding between you and the fallout


The radioactivity in fallout weakens rapidly in the first hours after an explosion. This weakening is called “decay”. After seven hours, fallout has lost about 90% of the strength it had one hour after the explosion. After two days it has lost 99%; in two weeks 99.9% of its strength is gone. Nevertheless, if the radiation at the beginning were high enough, the remaining 0.1% could be dangerous.

Radiation must be measured by special instruments handled by people trained to use them. But, if you stay in a shelter during the first days following an explosion, you escape the strongest radiation. You should stay in the shelter until radiation has been measured and you have been told aver the radio that it is safe to come out.


The strength of radiation reaching your body is reduced the farther you are from the fallout. Here are some illustrations of the safest place to be when you are in various kinds of buildings.


The most effective protection is to place some heavy material between yourself and the fallout. The heavier the material the better the protection. Many common materials give excellent protection. The materials and design of the fallout shelter recommended in Blueprint for Survival No. 1 will stop penetration of 99% of outside radiation.

These thicknesses of material will stop 99% of radiation:

  • 16 inches of solid bricks
  • 16 inches of hollow concrete blocks filled with mortar or sand
  • 2 feet of packed earth Ä 3 feet if loose
  • 5 inches of steel
  • 3 inches of lead
  • 3 feet of water

A fallout shelter is the best way to protect your family and yourself against radiation because:

  • It keeps the radiation at a distance.
  • It shields you from radiation.
  • The time spent there is the period when radiation is most intense.

By providing your family and yourself with a fallout shelter, you are unlikely to suffer serious effects from radioactive fallout.

Personal Danger from Fallout:

Radioactive particles in contact with your skin for a few hours may produce burns, prevent this danger wash thoroughly with water, particularly exposed skin and hair. But do not scrub your skin as this might rub in the radioactive particles.

Radioactive particles swallowed in food or water might be harmful, hence take extra caution, Radioactivity from an area of fallout may produce illness in the unprotected individual after a few days. Hence stay indoors if possible and be cautious while going out wear clothes that can completely cover your body and carefully remove those clothes while re-entering and wash them thoroughly before using them.

Radiation illness develops slowly. It cannot be spread to other people. Except for temporary nausea shortly after exposure, evidence of serious effects from radiation may only appear after an interval of from a few days to three weeks. A combination of loss of hair, loss of appetite, increasing paleness, weakness, diarrhoea, sore throat, bleeding gums and easy bruising indicate that the individual requires medical attention. Nausea and vomiting may be caused by fright, worry, food poisoning, pregnancy and other common conditions.

There are several measures and precautions, which are to be taken before and after a nuclear disaster.

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