After the recent false alert in Hawaii, many people have been left wondering how to survive a nuclear attack. Bestie.com has read through government websites and pdfs to bring you 8 of the most basic survival tips!
1. Required Reading: In 2010, the National Security Staff Interagency Policy Committee For Preparedness and Response to Nuclear and Radiological Threats (really rolls off the tongue) published “Planning Guidance For Response To A Nuclear Detonation,” an informative guide on, basically, how to plan for a nuclear attack. While you might want to skip the bits aimed at government policymakers (unless you’re actually a government policymaker in which case, why are you getting your research here?) there’s some really good stuff on surviving a blast. I’ll summarize the biggest points here, but if you’d like to go into more depth than a listicle can give you, I seriously recommend it.
2. If You’re Caught Outside: The Department of Homeland Security’s advice on what to do if you’re caught outside during a blast is relatively self-explanatory, but worth keeping in mind: take any cover possible, drop to the ground, make sure any exposed skin (like your hands) is covered and for god’s sake, don’t look at the fireball!
3. Duck and Cover (The Right Kind Of Cover!): One of the most useful things in the “Planning Guidance For Response To A Nuclear Detonation” (which will henceforth be called “The Nuclear Bible”) is a diagram showing exactly how much specific kinds of cover reduce the radiation dose that you receive.
The numbers represent how much being in a specific kind of building will decrease your radiation dosage (so, hanging out in a one-floor house with a wood frame will cut your radiation to ½ of what it would be outside). The takeaway? Get underground, and get somewhere where you’re shielded by brick or concrete
4. Number Crunching: Personally, I’d rather die in a nuclear blast than do math, but not everyone agrees. Michael Dillon, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory came up with an equation to determine when it’s best to leave mediocre shelter in search of better shelter. If your apartment building or sub-ground parking lot is less than 15 minutes away, it’s worth braving the potential radiation damage from going outside. But if it’s more than that, you’ll be better off holing up where you are.
5. Suggested Emergency Preparedness Kit: If you’re looking to put together a nuclear preparedness kit and not pay $100 for one of those nuclear backpacks, the Department of Homeland Security has you covered. Their list for a basic kit includes
– enough water and non-perishable food for three days (plus a can opener)
– hand-crank radio and flashlight
– first-aid kit, including a whistle
– dust masks
– maps of the surrounding area
– a cell phone with a backup battery
They have a suggestion for a more complete kit at their website (which you can get to by clicking on the photo source)
6. Stay Put: I know, you’re asking, “Wait, aren’t we supposed to evacuate?” Well, yes … but not without information. See, there’s something called a “fallout tail” extending away from a nuclear blast, which basically means that radioactive material gets spread downwind in a long, thin line. If you don’t know where the fallout tail’s going, you could be evacuating right into it. And, if you simply must leave the area, make sure you stay inside for at least the first 24 hours, by which point the very worst of the radiation will have dissipated (according to the Nuclear Bible).
7. Decontamination: If you’re caught outside there isn’t much you can do about the radiation that you’ve potentially received. However, you’ll still want to lessen the radiation damage that you might get from particles of fallout (radioactively-charged dust or debris) that might have settled on your skin. To do that, you’ll want to take off the clothing you were wearing and clean your skin (either with a shower or with moist towelettes. Try not to scrub or scratch at the skin, as that could create entry points for radioactive material.
8. Stay Calm, You’re (Probably) Fine: The plain fact is, despite the nuclear sabre-rattling that world leaders have been doing lately, no one really wants a nuclear war. Certainly not North Korea, whose leaders know that they will absolutely be destroyed if they launch a nuke at the continental US. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the likelihood of a nuclear event is “unlikely.”
So yeah, we’re probably not going to die in a nuclear blast. Just stay calm, and if you live somewhere where your leader is going on unhinged nuclear rants on Twitter, don’t forget to vote in the next election!