Nuclear Fallout Protection

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Minuteman, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    With different agencies warning about possible terrorist plots to detonate suit case nukes in the US I thought that some practical info on protection from nuclear fall out would be in order.If you are unlucky enough to be in close proximity to a blast you won't have to worry about fallout, or anything else.But if you survive the initial blast it will be your primary concern.The most logical solution is to get out of the path if at all possible.This means traveling cross wind till you are outside the fallout pattern.But if you are caught inside the pattern the safest thing is to hunker down and wait for it to dissapate.Fortunately,this is a relatively short time.
    A lot of companies offer high priced shelters and air filtration systems but these things are impractical for most people.Some simple procedures with common items can greatly increase your chances of surviving.
    The following articles offer practical advice.
  2. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    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 that it is discussed separately, in >Step 2.

    Step 2: 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.
    The fallout from a 5-megaton explosion could affect seriously an area of 7,000 square miles. If nothing were done to gain protection during the period of high radioactivity you would have little chance of surviving.Fortunately this period is fairly brief.

    There are four things which determine the amount of radiation reaching your body from fallout:
    1. The time that has passed since the explosion.
    2. The length of time you are exposed to fallout.
    3. The distance you are from the fallout.
    4. 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.

    The strength of radiation reaching your body is reduced the farther you are from the fallout.

    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 brick
    • 16 inches of hollow concrete blocks filled with mortar or sand
    • 2 feet of packed earth ؤ 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.

    Radioactive particles in contact with your skin for a few hours may produce burns. Follow Step 9 to prevent this danger.
    Radioactive particles swallowed in food or water might be harmful. Follow Step 9 to prevent this danger.
    Radioactivity from an area of fallout may produce illness in the unprotected individual after a few days. Follow Step 4 to prevent this danger.

    Step 4: Know How to Take Shelter
    It is important to provide your family and yourself with a shelter. But what kind of shelter? This is a decision you must make yourself after studying the problem.
    Study your shelter requirements in the same way that you would study accident or fire insurance. Decide upon the degree of protection you want for your family and yourself. Shelter is your insurance against something you hope will not happen, but if it does, will give you protection.

    You may not have a fallout shelter when warning of approaching fallout is broadcast. Here are some tips on how to increase your protection in a basement. The amount of protection you can build will depend on how much time you have available until fallout arrives.
    • You can improvise a small emergency shelter by using furniture, doors, dressers, work-bench and other materials.
    • Select a corner of your basement, if possible away from windows, in which to build your shelter. Remove inside house doors from hinges to use as a shelter roof over supports. Supports for the improvised roof can be cabinets, chests of drawers, work-bench, or anything which will bear a heavy load. Use the house doors as a roof surface to provide a base for the heavy material you will have to place on it. Bricks, concrete blocks, sand-filled drawers or boxes, books or other dense items on the roof will help reduce radiation penetration. Around the sides and front of your shelter build walls of dense materials to provide vertical shielding. A small cabinet or dirt-filled box as may be used as a crawl-in entrance which can be closed behind you.
    • Remember, the heavier or more dense the material around you, the greater the protection.
    • Block basement windows with earth, bricks, concrete blocks, books or even bundles of newspaper. In winter, use packed snow.
    • On the floor above the corner of the you select as your shelter area, pile any heavy objects you may have available, such as furniture, trunks filled with clothes, dirt-filled boxes, books, newspapers, or earth from outside.
    • Outside, against above ground walls of the basement around your shelter area heap earth, sand, bricks, concrete blocks or packed snow.

    I would add that rolls of duct tape and visqueen plastic sheeting should be kept in your house for sealing up windows.Think of it like winterizing.If a draft can get in then fallout can get in.Visqueen and duct tape all windows and doorways, especially in your safe room.You want to make it as airtight as possible.The above shelter should be used for the first few hours.Then it should be safe to move around the inside of your house but you should limit yourself to as few rooms as possible and stay to the lowest or innermost room/rooms for at least three days.MM
  3. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Fallout Fundamentals
    Fallout consists of dust particles that have been coated with radioactive
    by-products from atomic explosions. This occurs when the nuclear or atomic
    blast is a ground rather than air-burst (air-burst meaning that the fireball
    is far enough from the earth's surface that there is no ground material
    uptake into the high temperature portion of the mushroom cloud). In an air-
    burst the bomb products condensate into such very small particles that they are
    aloft for such a long time that they are mostly non-radioactive by the time
    they come down, typically months or years. The fission process gives off
    hundreds of different radioactive elements and isotopes. Also, a certian
    portion of the fission mass does not fission. The fussion portion of nuclear
    bombs is clean and gives off only helium, the atomic bomb trigger (fission)
    which starts the nuclear bomb (fussion) is the portion of the bomb that leaves
    radioactive by-products.
    These by-products can be classified by their characteristics. One
    characteristic is half-life. The half-life is the length of time it takes for
    an element to give off one-half of its total radioactivity. This would also be
    the length of time required for a given amount to change to one-half the
    radioactive level, in other words if something was giving off radiation that
    would yield 3 Rads/hours, after one half-life it would give off 1.5 Rads/hour.
    An unstable isotope only emits radioactivity when one atom decays to
    another isotope or element (which may or not be stable, stable being non-
    radioactive). Therefore the portions of the element that are not in the
    process of decaying are not giving off any radioactivity. If you have
    "X" number of atoms of a radioactive element, "X/2" of those atoms will give
    off their radioactivity in the half-life period and become a different element
    or isotope. If an element has a half-life of 1 day, a given amount of it will
    give off 1/2 of its total radiation during the 1st day, 1/4 during the second
    day, 1/8 the 3rd day, 1/16th the 4th, 1/32 the 5th, 1/64 the 6th, 1/128th the
    7th, et cetra. If you have a short half-life like Iodine 131 of 8, days most
    of the radioactivity (99+%) will be emitted in two months. In a long half-
    life element like plutonium 239 with a 24,400 year half-life, 1,000,000 atoms
    would in 24,400 years give of 1/2 of their radioactivity leaving 500,000 atoms
    of plutonium 239 at the end of those 24,400 years. 500,000 decays over 24,400
    years equals approx. 21 decays per one year.
    Another characteristic is the type of radiation given off, Alpha, Beta, or
    Gamma radiation. Neutron radiation is only given off by the actual blast
    itself and is not given off by the fallout itself. Only neutron radiation
    can MAKE something that is not radioactive become radioactive. This is why
    fallout can not cause something (like food inside a can) to become radioactive.
    Alpha, beta, and gamma radiation can NOT make anything become radioactive.
    Alpha radiation (helium nucleus, 2 protrons and 2 neutrons), like from
    plutonium, can be shielded with one layer of Cellophane or newspaper or several
    inches of air. Beta radiation (an electron) can be shielded by a layer of
    drywall, or several feet of air. Gamma radiation is electromagnetic radiation.
    Neutron radiation is a neutron and is about twice as hard to stop as Gamma.
    Gamma and neutron are harder to stop, you need several feet of dirt or
    concrete to absorb them. See below for specifics for stopping Gamma radiation.
    One factor that most people don't realize about fallout is how fast it
    decays. Fallout follows the t-1.2 law which states that for every sevenfold
    increase in time after detonation there is a tenfold drop in radiation output.
    Example, a reading of X level of radioactivity at Y hours after detonation
    would indicate a level of radioactivity of .1X at 7Y hours after detonation.
    This is accurate for 2,500 hours (14 weeks) following the explosion,
    thereafter the doserate is lower than t-1.2 would predict. Example, if a
    dose rate of 100 REM/hr was found at 1 hour after detonation(this assumes all
    significant fallout from the bomb has fallen, therefore starting with the
    seven hour point is probably more realistic) would be 10 REM/hr at 7 hours,
    1 REM/hr at 49 hours(2 days), .1 REM/hr at 343 hours(2 weeks), .01 REM/hr at
    2401 hours (14 weeks). A "survival safe" dose of radiation (this being defined
    as no short term effects or disability) is 3 to 12 Rads/day. This dose rate of
    3-12 Rads/day can only be taken to an accumulated dose of 150-200 rads if done
    day after day. This would occur (assume 6 Rads/day) in this example at 150
    hours for 24 hour exposure, or at 49 hours for a 6 hours per day outside of
    shelter. Note though that since the level of activity is decreasing the time
    spent outside every day would increase. If you increase the radiation by a
    factor of 10 for another example would be where you would have 1,000 Rem/hr at
    1 hr, 100 Rem/hr at 7 hrs., 1 Rem/hr at 343 hrs., .1 Rem/hr at 2401 hrs. The 24
    hour exposure would be at 1,000 hours(41 days) and 6 hour work day outside of
    shelter at 300 hours(12 days).
    For various levels of contamination a "no short term effects" dose of 6 Rads
    per day would be something like this: (for 80 col. printout)(measurements at
    boundries of the oval shaped pattern)

    Hours from Dose rate Hours of "safe" work outside per day, medical effect
    EXAMPLE A An area 10 miles wide by 30 miles downwind directly downwind
    from of a missle field that gets dozens of hits
    1 hr. 10,000 R/hr None, 100% dead at 6 minutes of exposure
    7 hrs. 1,000 R/hr None, 100% dead at 1 hour of exposure
    2 days 100 R/hr None, 50% dead within 3-4 hour continuous exposure
    2 weeks 10 R/hr 36 minutes. 50% dead for 2 day continuous exposure.
    14 wks(3 mo) 1 R/hr 6 hours/day. 50% dead for 1 month continuous exposure
    5% dead for 15 day continuous exposure, no medical care
    and no deaths for 1 week continuous exposure.
    EXAMPLE B An area 10 miles wide by 30 miles downwind of a single 1 MT
    ground burst
    1 hr 1,000 R/hr None, 100% dead at 1 hour of exposure
    7 hrs. 100 R/hr None, 50% dead within 7-8 hour of continuous exposure
    2 days 10 R/hr 36 minutes. 50% dead for 5 days of continuous exposure.
    2 week 1 R/hr 6 hours/day. 50% dead for 1 month continuous exposure.
    14 weeks 0.1 R/hr All day. 0% deaths from radiation hereafter.
    EXAMPLE C An area 12 miles wide by 95 miles downwind for a single 1 MT
    ground burst
    1 hr radiation has not arrived yet.
    7 hrs. 50 R/hr 12 minutes, 50% dead for 18 hour continuous exposure
    2 days 5 R/hr. 1 hour, 5% dead for 2 week continuous exposure
    2 weeks 0.5 R/hr 12 hours/day.
    14 weeks 0.05 R/hr Unlimited.
    The above three examples indicate conditions and exposures that would only
    be acceptable in wartime. In these examples the wind is continuous in
    direction and velocity. A real wind would not make such nice neat ovals. It
    should be noted that even in real wind conditions, marching perpendicular to
    the depositing wind will remove you from a individual fallout zone.

    jordycat likes this.
  4. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    You can see that the effects of nuclear fall out dissapate quickly.Depending on how much material is in the air, it could be safe to travel in as little as three days.If you can keep from ingesting any radioctive material for the first few days you will probably be fine.I would reccomend investing in a good quality gas mask for every member of your family.And remember that adult masks will not properly fit children.There are masks made for children and even for infants.
    As for decontamination,water is the best method.When it is safe to venture outside you will have to be careful about getting fallout material on you.Have either the Army issued chemical protective clothing;charcoal lined suit,rubber boots & gloves etc or just plain rain suit, galoshes,latex gloves etc will work fine.Wash everything around your house with running water.Channeling the run off away from the house.Wash cars and anything else that you will have to touch with your bare skin.The best plan is to get to a clean area as soon as possible.But if for some reason you have to stay put then venture outside as little as possible and always de-contaminate before re-entering your house.Eventually, with wind and rain, mother nature will take care of the clean up.

    jordycat likes this.
  5. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Here is an article that has a lot of good info on the subject also, includeing on shelters and KI pills or use of iodine if pills are not available.

    PDF version for best printed copy is here

    IF you can do so quickly, e-mail the link to this page to all on your e-mail list...
    ...with the brief message from you urging them to "Print and Read Now!"

    Your top priority right now, though, is preparing for your own immediate family survival!




    This guide is for families preparing for imminent terrorist or strategic nuclear attacks
    with expected severe destruction followed by widespread radioactive fallout downwind.

    IF ONLY A 'Dirty Bomb' Attack (Not the vastly more devastating nuclear weapon blasts with fallout discussed below.) - You can expect localized and downwind contamination from the explosion and dispersed radioactive materials. If you are near enough to see or hear any local bomb blast, assume that it includes radiological or chemical agents. You should move away from the blast area as quickly as possible. If the wind is blowing toward you from the direction of the blast, travel in a direction that keeps the wind to your left or right as you move away from the blast area. If possible cover your face with a dust mask or cloth to avoid inhaling potentially radioactive dust. Upon reaching a safe location, remove your outer clothing outside and shower as soon as possible. Refer to local news sources for additional instructions about sheltering or evacuation. The government is better prepared to direct and assist the public in a 'dirty bomb' incident, unlike an actual nuclear weapon attack discussed below.

    In a national crisis of imminent nuclear weapon attacks, read all the way through this guide first,


    #1 - STAY OR GO?

    You must decide FIRST if you need to prepare where you are, or attempt evacuation. The nature of the threat, your prior preparations, and your confidence in your sources of information should direct your decision. If you know already you will be preparing to stay at your own home or, at least, the immediate local area, go now to #2 below.

    If you are considering evacuation, your decision requires a very high confidence that it is worth the risk. You do not want to get stuck between your current location and your hoped for destination, as there will probably be no easy getting back. If you fail to get to your destination, you may be exposed without shelter, in a dangerous situation with little effective law enforcement, perhaps among panicked hordes of refugees. Whatever supplies you have may be limited then to what you can carry on foot. IF you are in a big city or near a military target, AND you have relatives or friends in the country that you know are awaiting you, AND the roads between you and them are clear, AND the authorities are not yet restricting traffic, AND you have the means and fuel, evacuation may be a viable option for a limited time. DO NOT attempt evacuation if all of the above is not clearly known, or if the situation is deteriorating too quickly to make the complete trip. You do not want to get stuck and/or become a refugee being herded along with panicked masses. If evacuation is truly a viable option, do not wait - GO NOW! Do so with as many of the supplies listed on the last page as possible. Better to be two days too early in arriving than two hours too late and getting snagged mid-way, potentially exposing your family to a worse fate than having stayed where you were. Because of the very real danger of getting caught in an evacuation stampede that stalls, almost all families will be better off making the best of it wherever they currently are.


    Because time is of the essence, you need to first delegate and assign to different adult family members specific tasks so they can all be accomplished at the same time. Your first priorities to assure your family survival are Shelter, Water, and Food/Supplies. While some are working on the water storage and shelter at home, others need to be acquiring, as much as possible, the food and supplies.


    Because much of the food and supplies listed on the last page of this guide may quickly become unavailable, quantities restricted, and/or the streets and stores may become un-safe soon, you need to assign someone NOW to immediately go to the stores with that list! Get cash from the bank and ATM's first, but try and use credit cards at the stores, if at all possible, to preserve your cash.

    #4 - WATER

    With one or more adults now heading to the stores with the list on the last page, those remaining need to begin storing water IMMEDIATELY! Lack of clean water will devastate your family much more quickly and more severely than any lack of food. Without water for both drinking and continued good sanitary practices in food preparation and for bathroom excursions (which will inevitably be much less sanitary than normal), debilitating sickness could rampage through your household with little hope of prompt medical attention. That is a highly likely but, avoidable, disaster, ONLY IF you have enough water.

    Every possible container needs to be filled with water RIGHT NOW! It will be very hard to have stored too much water. When the electricity/pumps go down or everybody in your community is doing the same thing, thus dropping the water pressure, that's it, what you've got is all you might be getting for a very long time. Empty pop bottles (1-3 liter) are ideal for water storage, also filling up the bathtub and washing machine. (Remember, later you'll have some in your hot water tank.) If you have any kiddie pools or old water beds, pull them out and fill them up, too. (Water from a water bed should be used only for bathing or cleaning, not for drinking as it may contain traces of algicide and/or fungicides.) Anything and everything that'll hold water needs to be filled up quickly RIGHT NOW!!

    One of the shopping items listed on the last page is new garbage cans and liner bags which you'll also use for storing water. If you can't get any more new cans, you could clean out an existing garbage can and scrub it throughout with bleach, then put in a new garbage bag liner and fill it with water. (Use two liners if they are very thin/flimsy.) Choose well where you fill up garbage cans with water because they won't easily be moved once full and many of them together could be too heavy for some upper floor locations. Ideally, they need to be very near where your shelter will be constructed and can actually add to its shielding properties, as you'll see below. BE ASSURED, YOU CANNOT STORE AND HAVE TOO MUCH WATER! Do not hesitate, fill up every possible container, RIGHT NOW!

    #5 - SHELTER

    The principles of radiation protection are simple - with many options and resources families can use to prepare or improvise a very effective shelter. You must throw off the self-defeating myths of nuclear un-survivability that may needlessly seal the fate of less informed families.

    Radioactive fallout is the particulate matter (dust) produced by a nuclear explosion and carried high up into the air by the mushroom cloud. It drifts on the wind and most of it settles back to earth downwind of the explosion. The heaviest, most dangerous, and most noticeable fallout, will 'fall out' first close to ground zero. It may begin arriving minutes after an explosion. While the smaller and lighter dust-like particles will typically be arriving hours later, as they drift much farther downwind, often for hundreds of miles. As it settles, whether you can see it or not, fallout will accumulate and blow around everywhere just like dust or light snow does on the ground and roofs. Wind and rain can concentrate the fallout into localized 'hot spots' of much more intense radiation with no visible indication of its presence.

    This radioactive fallout 'dust' is dangerous because it is emitting penetrating radiation energy (similar to x-ray's). This radiation (not the fallout dust) can go right through walls, roofs and protective clothing. Even if you manage not to inhale or ingest the dust, and keep it off your skin, hair, and clothes, and even if none gets inside your house, the radiation penetrating your home is still extremely dangerous, and can injure or kill you inside.

    Radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion, though very dangerous initially, loses its intensity quickly because it is giving off so much energy. For example, fallout emitting gamma ray radiation at a rate of 500 R/hr (fatal with one hour of exposure) shortly after an explosion, weakens to only 1/10th as strong 7 hours later. Two days later, it's only 1/100th as strong, or as deadly, as it was initially.

    That is really very good news, because our families can readily survive it IF we get them into a proper shelter to safely wait it out as it becomes less dangerous with every passing hour.

    What stops radiation, and thus shields your family, is simply putting mass between them and the radiation source. Like police body armor stopping bullets, mass stops (absorbs) radiation. The thicker the mass, the more radiation it stops. Also, the denser (heavier) the mass used, the more effective it is with every inch more you add to your fallout shelter. The thickness in inches needed to cut the radiation down to only 1/10th of its initial intensity for different common materials is: Steel 3.3", concrete 11", earth 16", water 24", wood 38", etc. The thickness required to stop 99% of the radiation is: 5" of steel, 16" of solid brick or hollow concrete blocks filled with mortar or sand, 2 feet of packed earth or 3 feet if loose, 3 feet of water. You may not have enough steel available, but anything you do have will have mass and can be used to add to your shielding - it just takes more thickness of lighter wood, for example, than heavier earth, to absorb and stop the same amount of radiation. Increasing the distance between your family and the radiation outside also reduces the radiation intensity.

    The goals of your family fallout shelter are:

    To maximize the distance away from the fallout 'dusting' outside on the ground and roof

    To place sufficient mass between your family and the fallout to absorb the deadly radiation

    To make the shelter tolerable to stay in while the radiation subsides with every passing hour
    While a fallout shelter can be built anywhere, you should see what your best options are at home or nearby. Some structures already provide significant shielding or partial shielding that can be enhanced for adequate protection. If you do not have a basement available, you can still use the techniques shown below in any above ground structure, but you'll need to use more mass to achieve the same level of shielding. You may consider using other solid structures nearby, especially those with below ground spaces, such as commercial buildings, schools, churches, below ground parking garages, large and long culverts, tunnels, etc.. Some of these may require permissions and/or the acquiring of additional materials to minimize any fallout drifting or blowing into them, if open ended. Buildings with a half-dozen or more floors, where there is not a concern of blast damage, may provide good radiation protection in the center of the middle floors. This is because of both the distance and the shielding the multiple floors provide from the fallout on the ground and roof.

    Bottom Line: choose a structure nearby with both the greatest mass and distance already in place between the outside, where the fallout would settle, and the shelter inside.

    If you have a basement in your home, or at a nearby relatives' or friends' house that you can use, your best option is probably to fortify and use it, unless you have ready access to a better/deeper structure nearby.
    For an expedient last-minute basement shelter, push a heavy table that you can get under into the corner that has the soil highest on the outside. The ground level outside ideally needs to be above the top of the inside shelter. If no heavy table is available, you can take internal doors off their hinges and lay them on supports to create your 'table'. Then pile any available mass on and around it such as books, wood, cordwood, bricks, sandbags, heavy furniture, full file cabinets, full water containers, your food stocks, and boxes and pillow cases full of anything heavy, like earth. Everything you could pile up and around it has mass that will help absorb and stop more radiation from penetrating inside - the heavier the better. However, be sure to reinforce your table and supports so you do not overload it and risk collapse.

    Leave a small crawl-through entrance and more mass there that can be easily pulled in after you to seal it up. Have at least two gaps or 4-6" square air spaces, one high at one end and one low at the other. Use more if crowded and/or hotter climate. A small piece of cardboard can help fan fresh air in if the natural rising warmer air convection current needs an assist moving the air along. This incoming air won't need to be filtered if the basement has been reasonably sealed up, however any windows or other openings will require some solid mass coverage to assure they stay sealed and to provide additional shielding protection for the basement. More details on this in the next (#6) section.

    With more time, materials, and carpentry or masonry skills, you could even construct a more formal fallout shelter, such as the lean-to shown to the right, but you should pile up much more mass than what little is shown here.

    An effective fallout shelter constructed in a basement may reduce your radiation exposure 100-200 fold. Thus, if the initial radiation intensity outside was 500 R/hr (fatal in one hour), the basement shelter occupants might only experience 5 R/hr or even less, which is survivable, as the radiation intensity will be decreasing with every passing hour.

    Adding mass on the floor above your chosen basement corner, and outside against the walls opposite your shelter, can dramatically increase your shielding protection. Every inch thicker adds up to more effective life-saving radiation shielding.

    As cramped as that crawl space fallout shelter might seem, the vital shielding provided by simply moving some mass into place could be the difference between exposure to a lethal dose of radiation and the survival of your family.

    The majority of people requiring any sheltering at all will be many miles downwind, and they will not need to stay sheltered for weeks on end. In fact, most people will only need to stay sheltered full-time for a few days before they can start coming out briefly to attend to quick essential chores. Later, they can begin spending ever more time out of the shelter daily, only coming back in to sleep. As miserable as it might seem now, you and your family can easily endure that, especially compared to the alternative.

    It's really not so difficult to build an effective family fallout shelter, not to get it done... RIGHT NOW!


    If you've accomplished the above; securing your supplies, stored water, and built your family fallout shelter, CONGRATULATIONS! You have now succeeded in improving the odds of survival for your family 100-fold, or more! Now, you need to expand your knowledge and fine-tune the tactics that will make the most of your family survival strategy.

    Government information and guidance is a vital resource in your response to a nuclear crisis, but for many reasons it may be late, incomplete, misleading or simply in error. While evacuation might be prudent for individuals who act quickly in response to a threat, governments will be slow to call for mass evacuations because of their potential for panic and gridlock. As the recent government calls for duct tape and plastic sheeting led to sold-out stores, anxiety, and derision from the press, there will be great reluctance to issue similar alarms. If you want to assure that you have adequate food and supplies for your family you must act BEFORE the panic without first waiting for government instructions that may never come or as urgently as warranted. You alone are ultimately responsible for your family.

    Filtering the air coming into your basement shelter won't be required. Air does not become radioactive, and if your basement is reasonably snug, there won't be any wind blowing through it to carry the radioactive fallout dust inside. Simply sealing any basement windows and other openings prevents significant fallout from getting inside. To improve both the radiation shielding inside the basement, and to protect the windows from being broken and letting fallout blow in later, you should cover them all with wood, and then with sandbags or solid masonry blocks or earth, etc. on the outside and inside too, if possible. If the basement air gets seriously stale later on, you could re-open a door into the upper floors of the still closed house, or secure a common furnace air filter over an outside air opening leading into your basement.

    Regarding fallout contamination, any food or water stored in sealed containers, that can later have any fallout dust brushed or rinsed off the outside of the container, will then be safe to use. As long as the fallout dust does not get inside the container, then whatever radiation penetrated the food/water container from the outside does not harm the contents. If you suspect that your clothes have fallout on them, remove your outer clothing before you come inside and leave them outside. A cheap plastic hooded rain poncho that can be easily rinsed off or left outside is very worthwhile. Have water and baby shampoo near the entrance (hose and containers) to wash and thoroughly rinse any exposed skin and hair. Exposure to fallout radiation does not make you radioactive, but you need to assure that you don't bring any inside. If any are stricken with radiation sickness, typically nausea, it is when mild (<100 Rads) 100% recoverable and cannot be passed on to others. Before fallout arrives, you might also try to cover up items you want to protect outside for easier rinsing off of the fallout dust later when it's safe to come out and do so. For instance, if you have a vegetable gardening spot, you might try covering much of it with plastic or tarp and weighting them down.

    If without sufficient time to acquire radiological instruments of your own, like Geiger counters and dosimeters, you'll need to be extra sure that your portable radios function properly from inside your shelter and that you have plenty of fresh batteries stocked for them. Without radiological instruments, listening for official guidance about the radiation threat levels in your particular area will be the only way you'll know when it's becoming safe to venture out. It might also be the only way you'll know when you first need to take your initial maximum protective action. When not in use, they should not be attached to any outside antenna or even have their own antenna extended. And, they should be wrapped in any non-conducting insulation, like layers of paper or bubblewrap plastic and then stored in a metal container or wrapped in aluminum foil to minimize the potential of EMP ruining the electronics. Having back-up radios would be very prudent. With extra radios, you can have one always tuned to the closest likely target city and, if it suddenly goes off the air, that could be your first indication of an attack.

    If close to a target, your first indication of a nuclear detonation may be with its characteristic blinding bright flash. The first effects you may have to deal with before radioactive fallout arrives, depending on your proximity to it, are blast and thermal energy. Promptly employing the old "Duck & Cover" strategy will save many from avoidable flying debris injuries and minimize thermal burns. Those very close will experience tornado strength winds and should quickly dive behind any solid object or into any available depression, culvert, basement, etc. A 500 kiloton blast, 2.2 miles away, will arrive about 8 seconds after the detonation flash with about a 295 mph wind blast that lasts about three seconds. An even larger 1 MT (megaton) blast, 5 miles away, will arrive in about 20 seconds. Hopefully, you are not near any target area 'ground zero' and will only, like the vast majority, have to deal with just the fallout later.

    When fallout is first anticipated, even though it has not yet arrived, have anybody still outside begin wearing their dust protector filter masks and hooded rain ponchos. Everyone should begin taking their Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) tablets for thyroid protection against cancer causing radioactive iodine, a major product of nuclear weapons explosions. If no tablets available, you can topically (on the skin) apply an iodine solution, like tincture of iodine or Betadine, for a similar protective effect. (WARNING: Iodine solutions are NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) For adults, paint 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm each day, ideally at least 2 hours prior to possible exposure. For children 3 to 18, but under 150 pounds, only half that amount painted on daily, or 4 ml. For children under 3 but older than a month, half again, or 2 ml. For newborns to 1 month old, half it again, or just 1 ml. (One measuring teaspoon is about 5 ml, if you don't have a medicine dropper graduated in ml.) If your iodine is stronger than 2%, reduce the dosage accordingly. Absorption through the skin is not as reliable a dosing method as using the tablets, but tests show that it will still be very effective for most. Do not use if allergic to iodine. If at all possible, inquire of your doctor NOW if there is any reason why anybody in your household should not use KI or KIO3 tablets, or iodine solutions on their skin, in a future nuclear emergency, just to be sure.

    When you know that the time to take protective action is approaching, turn off all the utilities into the house, check that everything is sealed up and locked down, and head for the shelter. You should also check that you have near your shelter additional tools, crow bars, and car jacks for digging out later, if required. Also, any building supplies, tools, sheet plastic, staple guns, etc. for plugging any holes from damage. Your basement should already be very well sealed against fallout drifting inside. Now, you'll need to seal around the last door you use to enter with duct tape all around the edges, especially if it's a direct to the outside door.

    You don't need to risk fire, burns, and asphyxiation trying to cook anything in the cramped shelter space, if you have pre-positioned in your shelter enough canned goods, can opener, and other non-perishable foods, that are ready-to-eat without preparation. More food, along with water, can be located right outside your crawl space entrance that you can pull in quickly as needed when safe to do so.

    For lighting needs within the shelter have many small LED flashlights or LED head-lamps to stretch your battery life. Try not to have to use candles if at all possible. Bring in some books for yourself and games for the children. Maybe throw in a small/thin mattress, some cushions, blankets, pillows, etc.

    Toilet use will be via the 5 gallon bucket with a seat borrowed from one of the house bathrooms, if you did not purchase a separate one. Garbage bag liners, hopefully sized for it, should always be used and a full-size and bag lined garbage can should be positioned very close to the shelter entrance for depositing these in when it is safe to do so quickly. Hanging a sheet or blanket will help provide a little privacy as shelter occupants 'take their turn'. The toilet needs to have its new 'deposits' sealed up tight with the plastic liner after each use. Use a very secure top on the bucket and position it near the wall with the outgoing upper air vent.

    Pets, and what to do about them, is a tough call. Letting dogs run free is not a humane option, both for their potential to die a miserable death from radiation exposure outside and/or to be a danger to others, especially if they get diseased and/or run in the inevitable packs of multitudes of other abandoned pets. Caring for them is ideal, if truly realistic and not a drain on limited resources, while 'putting them down' might eventually become a painful, but necessary reality.

    Boiling or bleach water treatments will be used for cleaning your stored water later for drinking. (This is for killing bacteria, not for radiation contamination, which is never a concern for any stored and covered water containers or even sealed food.) Tap water recently put into clean containers won't likely need to be purified before using. To purify questionable water, bring it to a roiling boil and keep it there for 10 minutes at least. If you don't have the fuel to boil it, you can kill the bacteria by mixing in a good quality household bleach at the rate of 10 drops per gallon, and letting it sit for at least 1/2 an hour. The bleach should be at least 5.25% pure, like Clorox, but be sure it has no additives such as soap or fragrance. You can later get rid of the flat taste from boiling, or some of the chlorine taste when using bleach, by pouring it from one container to another several times.

    There's much more that can be learned to better understand what you are up against and to acquire to help your family survive and endure it. While time permits, and if the Internet is still up & running, task somebody with getting and printing out additional prep information.
    If there is not enough time to order/receive a radiation meter, then print out the plans for the home-makable KFM (Kearny Fallout Meter) that shows how to build at home, from materials commonly found there, an effective fallout radiation meter. Get the free plans for the KFM here...

    If there is enough time to both order, and be shipped, your own radiation detection and monitoring instruments, potassium iodide anti-radiation tablets, Nuclear Survival handbooks, etc., check first for remaining availability at these links...

    For readily understandable, practical and more detailed information on nuclear bomb blast, thermal, and radiation effects, EMP, radioactive fallout, radiation health effects and first-aid, nuclear survivability and myth-busting facts, along with livestock protection and numerous Do It Yourself fallout sheltering tips, print out all three parts of this web site below, which is where this guide originated from...

    If at all possible, also check out this live prep forum, as they will be covering all the latest crisis news, interpreting the government pronouncements, and discussing the best practical survival preparations families can still do...

    When the TV or radio program switches abruptly to an terse announcement saying: "We Interrupt This Program For This Special Bulletin!", and your kids look up to you with questioning wide-eyes and eager for assurances, know then that you are confidently ready for them with your own Plan of Action ready to go! That's what this is all about... our children!


    This guide was purposely designed with the sober realization that the overwhelming majority of our fellow Americans would not be compelled to read such a guide until a nuclear crisis was imminent and, unfortunately, their preparation options and time to prepare then would be very limited. At we know that, at that time, we will again be quickly sold-out, as we were after 9/11, both by the public and the Federal govt., and that this guide then will be the best/only help that we can offer. If you are fortunate enough to be exploring your family preparation needs and options before such a future national crisis, there is much more that you can and should do now to insure that they are even better prepared.

    "A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them;
    the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." - Proverbs 22:3




    If stores are still at all stocked, and safe to go to, try to buy as many of the following items as possible... IMMEDIATELY! There are no quantities listed here on the food items below as family size varies and because, as the emergency and panic widens, many items will become quickly sold-out or quantities restricted and you'll need to try to get more of what does remain on the shelves. At a minimum you should be looking at two weeks of provisions, but much better to be aiming for two months or more. The reality is, if/when we get nuked, it will be a very long time before anything is ever 'normal' again, especially at any grocery stores. Florida hurricane victims can attest to the prolonged misery and disruptions from even a localized disaster, even with the rest of the country still able to help out. Nobody can begin to imagine how bad the suffering will be, and for how long, if nukes have gone off... and in multiple locations!

    The half-dozen top listed and UNDERLINED food items below are primarily for use while in the shelter. They are mostly ready-to-eat that requires no cooking or preparation, just a can opener at the most. (The iodine solution is included here because of its importance for its thyroid-blocking topical use detailed above, but it's NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) The other foods listed below there are better cost/nutrition staples for later use during the extended recovery period. Then follows general non-food supplies, tools and equipment.

    Go Acquire It All Now QUICKLY!

    It's much better to risk being a little early when securing your families essential food and supplies, rather than a few hours too late...

    Canned goods (pasta, soups, chili, vegetables, fruit, tuna, meats, lots of peanut butter, etc.)
    Ready-to-eat foods (pop-tarts, raisins, cheese, granola/energy/protein bars, snack-paks, etc.)
    Some perishable foods (breads and fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, etc.)
    Assorted drink mix flavorings (with no cold drinks, just plain water, kids will appreciate it!)
    Plenty of potent Multi-Vitamins, Vit C, etc.
    Iodine solution, like Betadine (16 ounces)- NOT TO BE INGESTED OR SWALLOWED!

    Multiple big boxes of dried milk (Could include/use some inside shelter, too.)
    Multiple big boxes of pancake and biscuit mix & syrup
    Largest bags of rice
    Largest bags of beans
    Largest bags of flour
    Largest bags of potatoes
    Largest bags quick oats and other grains
    Largest bags of macaroni
    Large bag of sugar
    Large jar of honey
    Large 2 gallons or more of cooking oil
    Baking powder & baking soda & spice assortment pack
    Bottled water (especially if home supplies not secured yet)

    Paper or plastic plates/bowls/cups/utensils
    Quality manual can opener, 2 if you don't already have one at home
    Kitchen matches and disposable lighters
    New garbage cans and lots of liner bags (water storage & waste storage)
    5 gallon bucket and smaller garbage bags sized for it (toilet)
    Toilet seat for the bucket (or use one from inside the house)
    Toilet paper and, if needed, sanitary napkins, diapers
    Baby wipes (saves water for personal hygiene use)
    Flashlights (ideally LED) and more than one portable radio
    Plenty more batteries, at least three sets, for each of the above
    Bleach (5.25%, without fragrance or soap additives)
    Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide
    Aspirin/Tylenol/Motrin, Pepto Bismol, etc.
    Prescription drugs filled, and as much extra as possible
    First aid kits
    Fire extinguishers
    Plenty of dust mask filter protectors
    Cheap plastic hooded rain ponchos for everyone
    Water filters and all other camping type supplies, such as Coleman cook
    stove and fuel, ammo, etc., if any sporting goods stocks still available.
    And, of course, rolls of plastic sheeting, duct tape, staple guns, staples, etc.


    Everyone is invited to copy, post, print, and distribute this 'WHAT TO DO IF A NUCLEAR DISASTER IS IMMINENT!' guide anywhere, as long as they do so without charging anything for it. It must be reproduced in entirety, including this notice, and not be altered or edited. To contact the author with comments and suggestions, e-mail: Shane Connor at This guide will be continually 'fine-tuned' so, before distributing it, download it fresh from or to print out, use this PDF version here
    Last Update: 7/16/2005
  6. MbRodge

    MbRodge Monkey+++

    That is a lot of info, and I've got to admit I only browsed it, so appologies in advance if I'm repeating something that's already been mentioned. One of the first actions of a nuclear power in modern military doctrine is a mid to upper atmosphere bursting Enhanced radiation bomb (also commonly called EMPs) to knock out military C3 capabilities. One side affect of this is that your phone lines will be knocked out. If your phone goes out, check the radio, check your cell reception? Then it is time to hunker down and get ready for the follow up shots. Hopefully, you've prepared for this already, because by that point it is too late if you haven't.
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