How To Survive Radiation Poisoning From a Nuclear Attack

With multiple nuclear-armed countries engaging in hostile rhetoric, one may wonder if someone, someday, will push the red button and trigger the next world war.

Or perhaps a bomb slips through border security and is detonated in the city center by a radicalized terrorist. 

Nobody can predict future outcomes in a reality where the number of countries with nuclear capabilities is increasing.

All you can do is stay alert and be prepared for the potential threats in your area.

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  1. How Radiation Affects The Body
     A. Acute Radiation Syndrome
     B. Diseases from Radiation Poisoning
  2. Radiation Poisoning In History
     A. The Man Who Drank Prescription Radium
     B. The Demon Core
     C. Two Hundred Times More Concentrated
     D. The Victims Of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
    E. Earthquake Triggered
    F. Whole City Contaminated
  3. Preparing For Radiation Poisoning
    A. Be The First To Hear What's Happening

    B. Check The Map
    C. Expect The Worst
    D. Stock Up With Supplies
    E. Build An Underground Shelter
    F. Radiological Water Filter Systems
    G. Anti-Radiation Pills & Detox Food
    H. Detect Radiation
    I. Protective Gear
  4. Avoiding Exposure
    A. Bug In Or Bug Out
    B. Drinking Water Safety
    C. Remove Contaminants
    D. Symptoms And Get Checked

According to several surveys, the US-North Korea rift is one of the greatest world security concerns today. Moreover, the news of the US conducting quiet military drills in different parts of the world (in its campaign to pressure North Korea) adds up to the tension.

As predicted by many experts, the next world war would result to millions of deaths, probably greater than the past wars combined. Different countries may find themselves involved in this war which will plunge the global economy down the marsh pit.

However, compared to the previous world wars which lasted for years, the next one is expected to end up quickly. Given the power of today’s weaponry, these forecasts are highly likely to happen.

If a nuclear warhead hits the city and you survived the initial attack, you’re left to deal with another problem —  a world contaminated by nuclear radiation.

To live through this stage, one must prepare and execute plans with extra care to avoid becoming a casualty. What are your chances and how can you get out of this catastrophe alive?

How Nuclear Radiation Affects The Body

The aftermath of a nuclear explosion is characterized by the emission of radiation particles that disperse quickly to the surroundings.

These emission contains enough energy that can destroy the electrons in matter. When this happens, this results to ion pairs or ionizing radiation which highly reacts to chemicals.

There are different types of ionizing radiation: alpha, beta, gamma, cosmic, neutrons, X-rays, and more. Regardless of what type of ionizing radiation hits you, it’s the amount of exposure that poisons and kills. The absorbed dose is measured in units of Grays (Gy) or sievert (Sv).

A quick abdominal X-ray is safe since you are only exposed to a very small dose of radiation. But if you get fully exposed to radiation of 300 Sv or more, you only have a couple of minutes to live.

Acute Radiation Syndrome

What will happen to people who experienced nuclear radiation poisoning aka Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS)? Ionizing radiation can effectively destroy DNA by breaking the cells enough to kill them or causing mutations which will eventually result to cancer.

The severity of ARS would depend on the amount of radiation exposure. Lower doses (< 1.0) can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever, and fatigue. Higher amounts of exposure (1.0-4.0 Gy) can kill the blood cells.

You can still survive, but the treatment process will be tedious – it involves a series of blood transfusion and administration of antibiotics. A radiation poisoning victim who received this amount of ionizing radiation will also suffer from a weakened immune system, uncontrollable bleeding, and anemia due to blood complications.

Patients who absorbed 2 Gy of ionizing radiation or more will notice odd sunburns on different parts of their body. This condition is called acute radiodermatitis, which is often characterized by red patches, blistering, and peeling skin.

Doses between 4-8 Gy can be fatal. However, the symptoms before death still depend on the amount of absorbed radiation poison. Patients exposed at this level suffer from severe diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, and fever. If left untreated, the victim will die in just a week.

Doses between 8-30 Gy can kill within two weeks after exposure. After an hour of exposure, victims will experience nausea and extreme diarrhea.

Those who received more than 30 Gy of nuclear radiation will also experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness. Seizures and involuntary movements are also common. Death occurs within 48 hours.

Diseases Associated With Radiation Poisoning

Due to destruction of cells and tissues and/or mutation caused by ionizing radiation, different diseases may occur immediately or years after the radiation exposure. Some of these include:

  • Leukemia (bone marrow destruction)
  • Cancers of the colon, thyroid, breast, bile ducts, bladder, kidney, pancreas, ovary, small intestine, urinary tract, and salivary glands.
  • Multiple myeloma (plasma cells cancer)
  • Thyroid nodular disease
  • Tumors of the brain
  • Tumors of the central nervous system
  • Sclerosis

Radiation Poisoning In History

The devastating effects of nuclear radiation causes severe effects that will make anyone wish for their life to just end instantly. Looking into some famous instances, it seems that it’s better to get caught in a nuclear bombing (quick death), instead of absorbing doses of radiation that causes agonizing pain and suffering.

Listed below are well-known incidents and cases of people who died due to receiving high or repeated doses of ionizing radiation.

The Man Who Drank Prescription Radium

Eben McBurney Byers, an American aristocrat, athlete, and industrialist, injured his arm while traveling after a Harvard-Yale football game. He complained of persistent pain and took Radithor, a highly radium-concentrated patent medicine, as suggested by his doctor.

Byers drank 1,400 bottles of Radithor over three years and as a result, his bones received loads of radium that it even shrunk his jaw. He also suffered from brain abscess and holes in his skull. Two years after he stopped taking Radithor, Byers died from radiation poisoning in 1932.

The Demon Core

Slotin criticality accident drawing
Slotin criticality accident drawing

Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. was a physicist researching for the Manhattan Project. While conducting an experiment to build a nuclear reflector, Daghlian accidentally dropped the last tungsten carbide brick into the center of the plutonium core and brick assembly. This led to a dangerous chemical reaction.

To halt the reaction, he attempted to knock off the brick but failed. He was forced to get close so that he can partially disassemble the tungsten carbide pile to prevent further disaster. As a result, he absorbed a high dose of neutron radiation. Daghlian was given intensive medical care but he still fell into a coma and died 25 days after the accident.

After a few months, another researcher who worked on the Manhattan Project fell victim to nuclear poisoning. Louis Slotin, performed an experiment as eight others watched. He tried to place two half-spheres of beryllium around the plutonium core trying to create one of the first steps in fissure reaction.

Unfortunately, the beryllium fell, causing a critical reaction which he managed to fix. However, Slotin was already exposed to very high doses of ionizing radiation.

According to records, Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and a burning sensation in his left hand. Others observed the blue glow of air ionization and a sudden heat wave. Slotin vomited as soon as they got out of the facility, which is a common reaction to people who absorbed doses of nuclear radiation.

He was rushed to the hospital but his health deteriorated in just a matter of days. After nine days, Slotin died from ARS caused by the same core dropped by Daghlian, earning the name “demon core”.

Two Hundred Times More Concentrated

In 1958, an accident involving a plutonium processing tank occurred which led to the death of an experienced chemical operator. Cecil Kelley was working in a tank that supposed to have 0.1 grams of plutonium per liter. However, due to improper transfers, the tank turned out to have held plutonium concentration of 200 times higher.

Also, the concentration was not evenly distributed even before Kelley began the operation. When he switched on the stirrer, the tank formed a vortex; the other workers heard a dull thud coming from Kelley’s area.

Two operators rushed to help Kelley and brought him to the hospital. He was retching, vomiting, and hyperventilating. When the doctors conducted a test, they found out Kelley’s body was fully radioactive.

Two hours after the incident, he regained coherence but it was clear that he won’t survive for very long. Test results also showed that Kelley’s bone marrow was destroyed. He began experiencing pain in his abdomen that won’t react to medication. Kelley died 35 hours after the accident.

The Victims Of Hiroshima And Nagasaki Bombings

Around 70,000 to 80,000 people died immediately when the uranium bomb, “Little Boy”, was dropped in Hiroshima. After three days, 40,000-75,000 people instantly perished after the plutonium bomb, “Fat Man”, exploded in Nagasaki.

But these are not the only deaths caused by the bombings. In fact, approximately 250,000 more died of radiation burns, thermal burns, radiation sickness, and other diseases caused by radiation poisoning after the aforementioned events.

Earthquake Triggered

Apart from human error, a nuclear tragedy may result from a natural disaster such as earthquakes – in the case of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In March 2011, an earthquake with magnitude 9.0 hit the northeast coast of Japan causing nuclear meltdown, explosions, and radiation leaks. The incident contaminated the nearby soil and water.

Two bodies were found in the turbine room of the power plant while 167 workers were exposed to radiation. While the public received low doses of ionizing radiation, the Japanese government still expects cancer issues (albeit, a low number) to develop.

Whole City Contaminated

The biggest nuclear accident in history took place at the Chernobyl Power Plant in Ukraine. The workers were trying to figure out how the turbines would supply energy to different pumps after a power failure; they decided to pause the test due to regional power issues and it was turned over to the night shift workers. However, the night shift workers were newbies and were not fully trained.

As a result, multiple errors were made while the automatic shutdown mechanisms were disabled. The reactor SCRAMed and issues with the design led to the overheating of the core. It eventually exploded, releasing huge amounts of radioactive steam and fission products. One of the workers was killed immediately but his body was never found. Another worker was rushed to the hospital but also died from his injuries.

The Chernobyl incident of 1986 caused ARS to 237 people working onsite. Twenty eight people died within weeks; six of them were firefighters who attended to the fires of the turbine building. Nineteen people died between 1984 and 2004. While no one offsite suffered from acute radiation syndrome, the fallout generated many cases of childhood thyroid cancers. The Chernobyl nuclear accident affected around one million people; a huge area of Pripyat city is still contaminated up to now.

Preparing For Radiation Poisoning

If you happened to survive the initial blast, you’ll continue to make it out alive if you prepped enough to protect yourself and your family from the dispersed nuclear fallout. Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of survival.

Be The First To Know What’s Happening

The most important key to get away from nuclear radiation is to know about the incident the moment it happens. Power lines might fail and you’re left wondering what just happened.

Radio signals may be affected as well as the internet. With the basic communication tools dead, how will you know about the upcoming disaster?

The government will send out warnings of fallout through an official channel for emergency announcements.

However, only radios with short antennas like the NOAA/All Hazard Weather Channels (with Alert and Weather Scan) will work since they won’t be affected by the nuclear fallout. So if you don’t have one, purchase it from your favorite online shopping store.

The 50-channel two-way radio from Midland Communications will also remain functional despite the electromagnetic pulse around the area

You will receive alerts about nuclear power plant warnings with a detection range of 36 miles. This will let you know about a nuclear power plant accident or an attack ahead of anyone – giving you enough time to prepare and decide whether to bug in or bug out.

Check The Map

In case of a nuclear power plant accident, it’s best to always know its distance from your home. Check the map to make sure if you reside near a power plant. You also need to know whether the site is operational or not. Do it now as soon as you read this sentence. We provided an updated map of U.S. Nuclear Power Plant locations and their status below.

U.S. Nuclear Power Plant Status, 2018 – (source: Wikipedia)

Your residence must be located many miles away from the plant to be safe. If you want to completely get away from danger, consider moving to neighboring city.

A nuclear accident can be as mild as an X-ray dose. However, the usual mishaps involving nuclear power plants may turn out to be deadly like the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl disaster. Also, a nuclear attack carried out by terrorists or enemy countries can also be as severe. Assume the worst scenario so you can always come up with the best course of action.

Stock Up With Prepping Needs

If you decide to bug in (stay at home), you need enough supplies until the government finds a way to decontaminate the area. Bunkers can keep emergency food packs, canned goods, and other food items that will last for three to five years while giving you enough space to grow crops or raise livestock, poultry, and some aquatic goods.

But when it comes to basic human survival, preppers must make sure not to focus just on stocking up food. Other things that everyone would need in any dire situation would be:

  • Shelter
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Food
  • Self defense (tactical flashlights, tactical knives, steel bats, guns)
  • First aid

Build An Underground Shelter

This may not be an option for all. However, it’s a great investment for any household because shelters serve as safe havens for other events apart from a nuclear fallout – such as an air strike or an earthquake. The Atlas underground bunker sounds like a good deal. This will server as a safe place to “let it all pass” for $36,000.

A shelter must be able to sustain itself through its own water and power sources. Generators would come in handy once a national blackout commences. While water sources may become tainted with radiation, they are still safe to use for cleaning or decontamination. Radiological water filters will help solve water problems in many situations.

If you don’t have enough funds to build an underground shelter, storm shelters and root cellars will do. You can also fortify your home to make it resistant from fallout threats. Seal up windows with tough plastic sheets and duct tape. This will provide sufficient defense against radiation.

Block the entrance with sandbags to prevent intruders from getting in. Sandbags also shields you from radiation, bullets, and explosives. Add more mass for a higher amount of protection.

Radiological Water Filter Systems

Radiation cannot be removed by just boiling contaminated water – a trusted radiological water filter system is the only way to decontaminate water. The Seychelles Water Filter eliminates 100% of identified radiological contaminants from drinking water. This includes radium 226, cesium 137, uranium, gross beta, radon 222, and radioactive iodine B1.

Stock Up On Anti-Radiation Pills And Radiation-Detoxifying Food

A distant nuclear radiation can be carried by the wind. Anti-radiation tablets will not immunize you from radiation but they can prevent damaging effects caused by radiation poisoning.

The thyroid, the part of the body that is most sensitive to radiation, uses iodine to produce thyroid hormone. When ionizing radiation makes contact with the thyroid, it scoops up radioactive iodine.

Anti-radiation tablets are usually potassium iodate pills. These pills protect the thyroid by supplying it with enough iodine so that it is no longer necessary to absorb any further. This prevents the thyroid from getting radioactive iodine which causes thyroid cancer.

Sodium bicarbonate also counts as radioactive medicine. Like potassium iodate, it reduces some effects caused by radiation exposure. Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda prevents kidney failure and protects other sensitive tissues from damage.

Dietary pectin is also known as a radioprotective agent. Apple pectin effectively sweeps toxins and contaminants in the digestive tract. A report from Swiss Medical Weekly says that a study confirmed the reduction of 137Cs in kids exposed to the radiation (emitted by the Chernobyl incident). Apple pectin was administered orally in many cases and showed great performance in flushing out radiation.

Other foods known to detoxify radiation include: bee pollen, beets, broccoli, brown rice, garlic, ginger, leafy greens, olive oil, onions, pumpkin, sea weed, and wheat grass.

Detect Radiation

A way to reduce radiation exposure is to detect if it’s already in the air. While you may be contaminated by the time you found out about it, detecting radiation early and immediately taking action increases the chance of survival. For as low as $20, you can purchase some radiation detection kits or devices online.

The RADSticker Dosimeter is a portable, easy to use device that can detect radiation. It’s a post stamp you can keep inside your wallet or stick to your bug out bag. The RADSticker becomes darker as it detects radiation. It also provides information about the amount of radiation you were exposed to so you’ll know whether you need immediate medical attention.

A fancier way to detect radiation is a Geiger counter. It has a more advanced radiation software technology. The best affordable radiation solution we can find is the Radex Geiger counter which only costs around $200.

Protective Gears Against Radiation

Purchase radiation protective gears as you may need to get out of your shielded shelter at some point. This allows you to go out without worrying about radiation exposure. You also need to stock up on these suits if you live near a power plant.

The Demron full body radiation protective unit fully shields you from fallout dust and radiation. Because not everyone can afford this specialized suit, an alternative can be used, such as a disposable Tyvec suit. However, you can only use it for a limited time since it can’t handle prolonged exposure to radiation.

On the other hand, a Faraday Cage shields your gadgets from electromagnetic pulse which may occur during a nuclear attack or accident. It has several types/shapes: square, rectangle, or cylinder. The Faraday Cage is usually made of non-conductive material such as wood or cardboard, wrapped in aluminum foil.

The conductive layer of the cage reflects fields and absorbs incoming energy while the cage itself generates opposing fields. This device protects your gadget from absorbing excessive field levels. Faraday bags are available online with the same function.

Avoiding Exposure From Radiation

To thwart the deadly radiation, monitoring the time of exposure is essential. The longer you swim in a contaminated field, the larger dose you’ll absorb. Always keep a radiation detector with you and stay away from potential radiation sources.

Bug In Or Bug Out

Bugging out may not be the best option during a nuclear fallout. But if in case you need to get out of the shelter, you will need protective gears on hand.

Don’t forget to bring a gas mask to prevent inhalation of dust particles. If you happen to be outdoors while the nuclear attack or accident happened, check the map and get as far as you can from the disaster. If you can’t do this, seek a nearby shelter.

Bugging in is the most effective option for survivors of the nuclear attack. But this only works if you have gathered everything you need before the fallout.

While most experts would advise three days of food ration, it’s best to keep a year’s supply of food and water. You should also consider growing your own food source inside the shelter.

Drinking Water Safety

Tap water may be contaminated during a nuclear fallout. Do not drink water from wells or tap water unless you collected them in a sealed container beforehand. It’s safest to drink bottled water so keep lots of it in your bunker or shelter.

Boiling water is not sufficient in removing radiation. A specialized radiological filtration system is what you needed.

Remove Contaminants

If you got exposed to radiation, the next step is always decontamination. For shorter exposure time, you might have only received external damage. To make sure it remains that way, you must proceed with decontamination.

Take off all your clothes immediately including your underwear and discard them in secured plastic bags. This will reduce 90% of contamination.

Shower with clean water and soap. Scrub hard to remove potential radiation from the surface of your skin. This step will remove the remaining 10%.

Learn The Symptoms And Get Checked

While we don’t want anyone to reach that point where he/she is already experiencing the symptoms, an excellent prepper should still assume the worst. Anyone exposed to radiation may experience nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. If this happened after a nuclear incident, decontaminate and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

6 thoughts on “How To Survive Radiation Poisoning From a Nuclear Attack”

  1. Please lmk, does a water still get radiation out of water? You mentioned “Radiological Water Filter Systems”, but I got a still. Also, what about the straw systems that will filter even muddy water into drinking water, do they wirk? (I can’t see how, but they make claims.)

  2. Please do not write about nuclear physics if you do not know anything. The advice given here is completely inaccurate. You would die if something happened nuclear wise with the things you wrote. There are four forms of radiation. They all effect your internals and externals differently. Iodine only helps with a radioactive iodine uptake. Not all detectors will detect all. You need multiple kinds. One stupid dosimeter will not help. One filter for water will not help. One Geiger counter will not help. That only measures contamination not dose. The dose can be calculated if efficiency is known. The decon methods are wrong too. God help all the people who read this and think this will help


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