Home Skills & Knowledge Prepper Skills 5 Steps to Prepare for & Survive a Nuclear Attack

5 Steps to Prepare for & Survive a Nuclear Attack

We’ve seen many apocalyptic movies showing the devastation left from a nuclear attack. But how does one survive when the bombs start to fall? Countries are becoming more powerful each year. Advancing technology and more destructive war capabilities make nuclear attacks a likely doomsday scenario. Nuclear weapons do exist. The fact that international conflicts could arise anytime should be enough to remind us that a nuclear conflict is a definite possibility. Remember the destruction caused by atomic bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Modern thermonuclear is now a hundred times more powerful than that.

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  A. Effects of Nuclear Blast
    Step 1: Get Away
    Step 2: Protection
    Step 3: Seek Shelter
    Step 4: Stay Inside
    Step 5: Cover Up
  B. Treating Exposure
  C. Prepping for a Nuclear Blast


A) Effects of a Nuclear Blast:

You may be wondering- if nuclear attacks are so devastating, is there any chance that anyone can survive it? In this article, we outline the steps you can take to improve your chances of surviving a nuclear attack. The truth is that there are many factors that go in a nuclear conflict to determine how survivable it is. Even if you survive the initial destruction, how would you go about surviving from then on? First, there’s the nuclear blast.

The radius of nuclear blasts depends on how big the bomb is, how high it was when it exploded and what the weather was when it detonated. The larger ones will create massive fireballs, each one several miles wide that is as hot as the surface of the sun, with winds that are stronger than a hurricane. Then there’s the radioactive fallout that’s carried for miles all around. The explosion of the nuclear blast alone could kill off millions of lives in an instant. After that, you’ll have to worry about the nuclear fallout that’s just as deadly as the blast itself.

Fallout is an occurrence where radioactive materials resulting from the blast is carried by the wind and falls to earth. People, wildlife and plants could become poisoned and die within minutes. The fallout may also manifest itself as “black rain”, which is not only toxic but is also searing hot. If you’re unlucky enough to be caught in ground zero, or where the fireball blast forms, then the chances of survival are pretty much zero. The fireball resulting from the blast will incinerate all living things within its radius. But if you’re several miles away from the attack, then your survival rate increases. Keep in mind that you’ll have to go by a set of certain rules to keep it that way.

A nuclear attack is not immediately fatal as long as you know the best way to maximize your survival rate. The best maxim to remember is not to run, but to hide. Or, get inside and keep indoors. Don’t follow movie logic. Those who get outside in panic will be left to the mercy of the radioactive elements. Those who leave in search of their loved ones are most likely to perish. If you want to survive a nuclear attack the less you get exposed to radiation, the better your chances of survival. Do these steps in order to decrease radiation exposure…


Step 1: Get Out Of There

The intense light that comes from the nuclear blast should spur you to action. If you’re still alive and breathing after the initial nuclear blast, you’ll have roughly 10 to 20 minutes to move away from the blast radius as fast as you can, or else the radiation that comes from the mushroom cloud will overtake and claim your life. In about 24 hours, the radiation will be carried by prevailing winds and scattered about. The bottom line is that you’ll have 15 minutes to find a good shelter. Staying behind will get you lethally exposed to radiation.

Those who are in a 5-mile (8 km) vicinity will suffer 3rd-degree thermal burns; even if you’re located at a 20-mile (32 km) distance, there’s a chance that the resulting heat will melt the skin right off your body. Wind will travel at around 600 mph (960 kph), leveling any structure it comes across. Quickly get a feel for where the wind is going and start running at a perpendicular angle. Move downwind and consider the possible shelter locations along the way. You can also do the “duck and cover” being taught in earthquake drills. Granted, it won’t protect you from the flame and the radiation, but it could prove to be useful if you’re in a city that has many high-rise buildings.


Step 2: Protect Yourself

Somehow you’re caught dangerously near the blast radius or outdoors with no shelter in sight. What is there to do? The first thing to keep in mind is to NEVER look at the nuclear blast. You could be blinded and incapacitated for what’s to come. The light from the bomb travels much faster than sound- the “flash blindness” could set you back precious minutes and lessen your chances of survival. This phenomenon may affect people who are 13 miles (21 km) away during the day or 50 miles (81 km) away during the night on a 1 megaton scale.

Keep your mouth open and your jaw slacks to prevent your eardrums popping due to pressure. Don’t touch anything that’s thrown off by the wind or the blast as it could be radioactive. Cover your nose and all your exposed skin as you run away to seek shelter. Keep an eye open for any combustible or flammable material as you’re navigating as they could ignite once the heat passes over. If you’re already at a suitable shelter, remove any flammable or combustible material.

Oil-based materials such as nylon will melt and ignite from the resulting heat wave. The worst case scenario is that you’re standing out in the open with no shelter for miles around. Do the next best thing and find anything that could provide protection. Search for depressed areas in the lay of the land; lie face-down and leave as little skin exposed as possible. You can also start to dig such a depression where there’s soft soil. Lie completely flat and cover your head. The blast wave could come to you in as little as 30 seconds, so think fast and act quickly.


Step 3: Seek Shelter

There are two kinds of shelter from a nuclear attack- shelter from the nuclear blast and shelter from the resulting fallout.

Blast Shelters. These structures could be built in preparation for nuclear attacks in the future. They offer protection from the fire, the heat, the initial radiation and the blast pressure from the nuclear strike. A blast shelter is not a cure-all, and it won’t stand a direct hit from a nuclear bomb.


Fallout Shelters. These structures could be found anywhere. As long as an enclosed space is protected and that the roof and walls are thick enough to ward off radiation and fallout particles, they can be classified as a fallout shelter.

The first instinct anyone will have when they see the mushroom blast is that they have to get back home or come get their loved ones. An atmosphere filled with radiation will make this task almost impossible to successfully complete.

Think about your survival and find cover instead. Remember, get indoors or deep underground the minute you see the flash of explosion from a nuclear attack. In urban area environments, basements could be your best bet. In cases where the nuclear blast is on the ground, getting to a higher level in a building could provide the same type of shelter as deep below ground.


Stay away from windows and find a room where there’s none. A closet space or a janitor’s room are the best choices. A nuclear blast could shatter any window and radiation could quickly invade your safe space. Get as much natural protection as possible.

Walls, soil, brick, and concrete should be piled between you and the radioactive material that comes from the nuclear blast. The more material you have in-between, the better your chances of survival. The negative attributes of radiation lose its potency the more it passes between materials such as earth, concrete, and other solid materials.



Step 4: Stay Inside!

Get deep below. If that’s not possible, seek the best kind of shelter ASAP. Buildings or houses made from good old brick and mortar and concrete are the best ones. Get inside and stay where you are to protect yourself from the resulting radiation.

You should also gauge whether a structure is a sound against heat and possible blast damages before getting in. If you’re at home, keep your radio handy and keep it tuned to gather news as the attack happens. Listen and watch out for official information on how to proceed further. Depending on several circumstances, survivors may be asked to move to a secure location, evacuate the area or stay indoors.

The general rule is that survivors must stay indoors and in the basement if there’s one. Seal all windows, close all the doors and turn off all ventilation systems such as heaters and ACs. A car can provide temporary shelter if you’re caught in the blast. It’s definitely better than having nothing in-between you and the radioactive materials carried by the wind.

Close all windows and shut off the ventilation system. Find a cloth and hold it over your mouth as you drive to a better shelter. Staying inside cannot be stressed enough if you’re facing a nuclear strike scenario.

Wandering outside will result in a quick, painful death- all those dirt, debris and radioactive particles from the mushroom cloud and the wind will poison and irradiate you. Fallout particles usually come in minute-sized sand grains. Keep away from them and don’t go outside if you see particles still falling from the sky. Do a quick estimate- are you within 10 miles of the nuclear blast’s epicenter?

If you are, it’s best to remain inside the shelter for a good 48 to 72 hours after the attack. Do not come out no matter what the situation is! Since you’re stuck indoors, why not reinforce your shelter against radiation and fallout? Stack clumps of mud, cement-based materials and bricks (if any) on the walls of your shelter.

Create a suitable roof if you’re residing in a trench, but don’t go out of your way to gather the materials. If you can acquire canvas from outdoor tents, use it to shield from fallout particles. You can worry about the gamma rays later.

There’s still a ray of hope- fallout from nuclear bombs decay rapidly! After the first hour, fallout loses half its negative energy; in 24 hours, around 80 percent of negative energy is lost in the atmosphere. With this in mind, you should count up to 200 hours and stay inside the shelter for around 8 to 10 days. It’s best to be safe rather than make a fatal mistake.

Plus, any fission products that come from the nuclear blast should be gone after 8 days. Even after 10 days have passed, there are still radioactive particles floating around the atmosphere, so it will be best to limit your time outdoors. Radio-iodine particles are about 1 percent strength after 90 days.


Step 5: Cover Up

When you’ve put a safe distance between you and the nuclear blast and found a suitable protective shelter, you should cast your clothes off to eliminate the radioactive dust. If you have access to a shower, take one. Use plenty of water and soap to wash off the radioactive contamination.

Do not scrub or scratch your skin! Do not use conditioner as it could make the radioactive material stick to your hair. If there’s no accessible shower, use a wet cloth to wipe off as much radioactive material from your skin as possible. Use this decontamination procedure- remove your clothes and shake them off constantly to remove minute radioactive particles. Wash them constantly with water. Then, wash your skin with plenty of soap and water. Any residue will result in skin burning and further complicate your survival situation.


B) Treating Radiation Exposure

Contaminated clothing should be put in a plastic bag and sealed away. Put the bag where no animal or human can open them to minimize the risk of radioactive exposure. Wear lots of protective clothing to cover your skin. Wear hats, goggles, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, gloves if there are any. This will protect you from the following types of radiation: Alpha Particles. The weakest of all radioactive particles in a nuclear attack.


They don’t pose much of a threat to humans, and they survive for just a few seconds after being released to the atmosphere. They could be harmful if inhaled or ingested. Beta Particles. Beta rays penetrate deeper into materials and last longer than Alpha particles. A beta particle can be active while traveling at 10 yards before being absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere.

Exposure to beta particles is not particularly fatal, but if you constantly absorb them then it can prove to be fatal. Beta burns are somewhat akin to sunburns. Make sure to cover your eyes, nose, and mouth against them to avoid accidental ingestion or inhalation.

Gamma Rays. The deadliest of all radioactive particles, and also the longest-lived. They can travel for miles and penetrate any shielding. Getting caught with gamma rays will turn your internal organs to mush. You’ll need adequate planning if you want to minimize exposure as much as possible. It’s best to rid your body of all potential radioactive particles or report to the nearest decontamination center in your vicinity.

If possible seek immediate treatment against thermal and radiation burns. Keep away from damaged structures; you’ll see them labeled with signs such as HAZMAT or radiation hazard. It’s best to be cautious as radiation is invisible to us. How To Prepare For A Nuclear Attack Here’s how you can prepare against a nuclear scenario: Keep Abreast of the News. A sudden nuclear attack is an unlikely scenario.


C) Prepping for a Nuclear Blast

Chances are that warring nations will engage in failed talks that lead to displays of force and light skirmishes such as air raids, ground battles, covert operations before pulling out their big guns. A deteriorating political situation, conflicting sides and a terrorist group announcing war will be your nuclear attack indicators.

Coordinate a plan with your loved ones on what you should all do and where you need to go if it happens. Stock Up On Potassium Iodide. These pills help against radiation and resulting cancer that you can get if you’re exposed to fallout particles. Protect your thyroid from radiation and keep a box of it at home, in your car or in your bug out bag. Read up on what brands are approved by the FDA and the appropriate dosing.

Keep Clean Water and Food Inside Your Shelter. The food and water supply should last for at least 2 weeks. Keep a radio and plenty of batteries. Bath, hygiene supplies and a set of fresh clothes should be stored as well. A Medical Kit. A first-aid kit, a first aid manual, and common medical supplies should be kept on your shelter.

You’ll need a blanket, a thermometer, tweezers, scissors, latex gloves, antibiotic ointments, sterile bandages, and gauze. Practice First Aid. Read up online or visit the nearest Red Cross station for a quick instructional on how to treat shocks, burns, administer CPR and how to bandage wounds. Keep A Personal Radiation Detector. It’s the next best thing to finding out whether a place or an item is irradiated or not.


  1. Absolutely ridiculous. The only way to survive nuclear attach is to avoid having one. Even if you did survive, and even if you were not poisoned by nuclear radiation, civilization and the environment would be decimated. The results would be catastrophic. Work to keep this from ever happening on planet earth.


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