Monday, June 28, 2010

How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

Seek shelter immediately...If you are a few miles out, you will have about 10-15 seconds until the heat wave hits you, and maybe 20-30 seconds until the shockwave does.

Do not look at the fireball and cloud. Under no circumstances should you look directly at the fireball. On a clear day, this can cause temporary blindness at very large distances.[5]

If you can't find shelter, seek a depressed area nearby and lay face down, exposing as little skin as possible. If there is no shelter of this kind, dig as fast as possible. Even around 8 kilometers (5 miles) you will suffer third degree thermal-burns; still at 32 kilometers (20 miles) the heat can burn the skin off your body. The wind itself will peak at around 960 kilometers per hour (600mph) and will level anything or anybody caught in the open.
Failing the above options, get indoors, if, and only if, you can be sure that the building will not suffer significant blast and heat damage...Stay away from any windows, preferably in a room without one; even if the building does not suffer substantial damage, a nuclear explosion will blow out windows at enormous distances.[6]
Wear cotton clothes...Substances like nylon or any oil based material will ignite from the heat.

Remember: it's not the initial blast that creates the high death toll; it's radiation exposure....The fallout may rain down as contaminated black soot known as "black rain," which is very fatal and may be of extreme temperature. Fallout will contaminate anything it touches.

Once you have survived the blast and the initial radiation (for now at least; radiation symptoms have an incubation period), you must find protection against the burning black soot.

Standard clothing will help protect you from Alpha particles.

Beta particles...pose a serious threat, however, to the eyes, should they be exposed for a prolonged period. Once again this is harmful if ingested or inhaled, and clothing will help prevent Beta burns.

...Avoid exposure to Gamma radiation. Try not to spend more than 5 minutes exposed. If you are in a rural area, try finding a cave, or a fallen log into which you can crawl. Otherwise just dig a trench to lie in, with stacked earth around you.

Begin reinforcing your shelter from the inside by stacking dirt around the walls or anything else you can find. If in a trench, then create a roof, but only if materials are nearby; don't expose yourself when not necessary. Canvas from a parachute or tent will help stop fallout debris from piling on you, though it will not stop Gamma rays...Use the following to help you determine the amount of material you'll need to reduce radiation penetration to 1/1000:[8] Steel: 21 cm (0.7 feet), Rock: 70-100 cm (2-3 ft), Concrete: 66 cm (2.2 ft), Wood: 2.6 m (8.8 ft), Soil: 1 m (3.3 ft), Ice: 2 m (6.6 ft), Snow: 6 m (20-22 ft)

Plan on staying in your shelter for a minimum of 200 hours (8-9 days). Under no circumstances leave the shelter in the first forty-eight hours. Ration your supplies. You will need to ration to survive, obviously; therefore you will eventually expose yourself to the radiation (unless you are in a specific shelter with food and water).

Processed foods are okay to eat, so long as the container has no punctures and is relatively intact. Animals may be eaten but, they must be skinned carefully with the heart, liver and kidneys discarded. Try not to eat meat that is close to the bone, for bone marrow retains radiation.
 Plants in a "hot zone" are edible; those with edible roots or undergrowth (carrots, potatoes...) are highly recommended. Use an edibility test on the plants. See How to Test if a Plant Is Edible.

Open water may have received fallout particles and is harmful. Water from an underground source, such as a spring or covered well, is your best bet. (Consider making a basic pit-style solar still, as described in How to Make Water in the Desert.) Use water from streams and lakes only as a last resort. Create a filter by digging a hole about 1ft from the bank and drawing the water which seeps in. It may be cloudy or muddy so allow the sediments to sit, then boil the water to ensure safety from bacteria. If in a building, the water is usually safe. If there is no water (there most likely won't be), use the water already in the pipes by opening the faucet at the highest point of the house to let in air, then open a faucet at the lowest point of the house to drain the water.

See also How to Get Emergency Drinking Water from a Water Heater.
Know How to Purify Water.
Wear all clothing (hats, gloves, goggles, closed sleeve shirt, etc.), especially when outside to help prevent Beta burns. Decontaminate by shaking your clothes constantly and washing, with water, any exposed skin; settled residue will eventually cause burns.

Treat radiation and thermal burns.
Minor Burn. Also known as a Beta burn (though it may be from other particles). Immerse Beta burns in cold water until the pain subsides (usually 5 minutes).

If skin starts to blister, char or break; wash it with cold water to remove contaminants, then cover with a sterile compress to prevent infection. Do not break the blisters!

If the skin does not blister, char or break; don't cover it, even if it covers a large portion of the body (almost like sunburn). Instead, wash the area and cover it with Vaseline or a solution of baking powder and water if available. But, moist (uncontaminated) earth will do.
Severe Burn. Known as a thermal burn, as it comes mostly from the high intensity blast heat, rather than ionizing particles, though it can be from the latter. This can be life threatening; everything becomes a factor: water loss, shock, lung damage, infection, etc. Follow these steps to treat a severe burn.

Protect burns from further contamination.
If clothing covers the burn area, gently cut and remove the cloth from the burn. DO NOT try to remove cloth which has stuck or fused onto the burn. DO NOT try to pull clothes over the burn. DO NOT put any ointment on the burn.
Gently wash the burned area with water ONLY.
Put a sterile dressing over the burnt area. In a mass casualty situation, a clean sheet may be used instead.

Prevent shock. Shock is the inadequate flow of blood to the vital tissues and organs. If untreated, it can be fatal. Shock results from excessive blood loss, deep burns, or reactions to the sight of a wound or blood. The signs are restlessness, thirst, pale skin and rapid heartbeat. Sweating may occur even if the skin feels cool and clammy. As it worsens, they breathe short fast gasps, with a vacant stare. To treat: maintain proper heartbeat and respiration by massaging the chest and positioning the person for adequate respiration. Loosen any constrictive clothing and reassure the person. Be firm yet gentle with self confidence.

Feel free to assist people with radiation sickness, also called Radiation Syndrome. This is not contagious, and everything depends on the amount of radiation one recieved. Here is a condensed version of the table:

Less than 5 REM. No visible symptoms.
5-50 REM. REM = Röntgen equivalent man. 1 REM = ~1 Röntgen. Temporarily decreased red blood cell count.
50-100 REM. Decreased production of immunity cells; susceptible to infections; nausea, headache, and vomiting may be common. This amount of radiation is usually survivable without any medical treatment-
150-300 REM. 35% percent of exposed die within 30 days. (LD 35/30) Nausea, vomiting, and loss of hair all over the body.
300-400 REM Severe radiation poisoning, 50% fatality after 30 days (LD 50/30). Other symptoms are similar to the 2–3 Sv dose, with uncontrollable bleeding in the mouth, under the skin and in the kidneys (50% probability at 4 Sv) after the latent phase.
400-600 REM Acute radiation poisoning, 60% fatality after 30 days (LD 60/30). Fatality increases from 60% at 4.5 Sv to 90% at 6 Sv (unless there is intense medical care). Symptoms start half an hour to two hours after irradiation and last for up to 2 days. After that, there is a 7 to 14 day latent phase, after which generally the same symptoms appear as with 3-4 Sv irradiation, with increased intensity. Female sterility is common at this point. Convalescence takes several months to a year. The primary causes of death (in general 2 to 12 weeks after irradiation) are infections and internal bleeding.
600-1000 REM Acute radiation poisoning, near 100% fatality after 14 days (LD 100/14). Survival depends on intense medical care. Bone marrow is nearly or completely destroyed, so a bone marrow transplant is required. Gastric and intestinal tissue are severely damaged. Symptoms start 15 to 30 minutes after irradiation and last for up to 2 days. Subsequently, there is a 5 to 10 day latent phase, after which the person dies of infection or internal bleeding. Recovery would take several years and probably never complete. Devair Alves Ferreira received a dose of approximately 7.0 Sv (700 REM) during the Goiânia accident and survived, partially due to his fractionated exposure.
1200-2000 REM. Death is 100% at this stage; symptoms appear immediately. The gastrointestinal system is completely destroyed. Uncontrollable bleeding from the mouth, under the skin and the kidneys occurs. Fatigue and general illness takes its toll. Symptoms are the same as before with increased intensity. Recovery not possible.
More than 2000 REM. The same symptoms set in instantly, with increased intensity, then cease for several days in the "walking ghost" phase. Suddenly, gastrointestinal cells are destroyed, with a loss of water and excessive bleeding. Death begins with delirium and insanity. When the brain can't control bodily functions like breathing or blood-circulation, one dies. No medical therapy can reverse this; medical help is for comfort only.
Unfortunately, you have to accept that a person may soon die. Though harsh, don't waste rations or supplies on those dying of radiation sickness. Keep rations for the fit and healthy, should supplies be in demand. Radiation sickness is prevalent among the very young, the old or sick.

Most likely, a nuclear attack will not be a singular event. Be prepared for another strike or strikes by enemy nations, or an invasion by the attacking party.

Be prepared for another blast. Keep your shelter intact, unless the materials used are absolutely necessary for survival. Collect any excess clean water and food that is available.

However, if the attacking nation does attack again, it will likely be in another part of the country. If all else fails, live in a cave.

Build a home fallout shelter beforehand. Home fallout shelters can be created using a basement or cellar. However, many new developments no longer have cellars; if that's so, consider constructing a community shelter or a private one in your backyard.

Be sure to wash just about everything, especially food, even if it's in your shelter.

Do not expose yourself. It is uncertain how many roentgens a person can receive without having radiation sickness. Normally, it takes 100-150 roentgens to get a mild sickness which is survivable. Even if you don't die of radiation sickness, you can still get cancer later.
Know if there is a retaliatory attack or a second detonation in your area. If so, you must wait another 200 hours (8-9 days) from the last detonation.

Even after it is safe to leave the shelter, local law and the federal government will be in crisis mode. Incidents of chaos and anarchy may occur, so remain hidden until it is safe or the federal/local enforcement seizes power and seeks stability. Generally speaking, if you see tanks, some type of order has been restored.

Do not drink, eat, or allow object-to-body contact with any plant, stream water or metallic object found in an unknown area.

Never lose your cool, especially if you are in charge. This is important in maintaining a high level of morale amongst others, which is essential in such dire situations.

Take the time to learn all you can about this emergency. Every minute spent learning "what to do, and what is safe" will save you valuable time when the need for it arises. To depend on hope & luck in a situation like this is foolhardy.

Sources and Citations

Ehrlich, R, (1984). Waging Nuclear Peace: The Technology and Politics of Nuclear Weapons, ISBN 9780873959193
Langford, R. Everett (2004), Introduction to Weapons of Mass Destruction, ISBN 0471465607
Wiseman, J, (1986), SAS Survival Handbook, ISBN 9780002727747
1. ↑ Attributed to Arthur Koestler.
2. ↑ Wiseman, p. 279.
3. ↑ Giraldi, Philip (2007). What World War III May Look Like].
4. ↑
5. ↑ Ehrlich 1985, p. 167, gives a distance of 13 miles on a clear day and 53 miles on a clear night for a one-megaton weapon.
6. ↑ For an example, one (albeit abnormally large) nuclear test in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in Russia was known to knock out windows in Finland and Sweden.
7. ↑ Ehrlich, p. 175; Langford, p. 106. For, unlike the blast and heat effects, the prompt radiation dose received decreases in relation to the square of the distance from the blast. Ehrlich points out that a 100 kt weapon would only give 1/500th the lethal dose of radiation at the 5 psi overpressure distance.
8. ↑ Wiseman, p. 280.
9. ↑ Wiseman, p. 280.

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