Surviving a Nuclear Blast

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

As I’ve watched developments in North Korea, it seems that we are inching closer and closer to a second Korean War. While the shape of such a war still has to be determined, the regime in Pyongyang has made it clear that nuclear weapons are an option that they are not afraid to use. In fact, they have gone much farther than that, making it rather clear that they plan on attacking our country with nuclear-tipped ICMBs as soon as they are able.

With the massive effort they are putting into both their nuclear program and their missile development, this is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. The launch of their first Hwasong-14 missile on Independence Day bodes ill for us in this regard. This is North Korea’s first true ICMB, with an estimated 8,000 km range, and it performed superbly.

That’s a huge difference from the missile tests we’ve been seeing, where the North Koreans had trouble getting their missiles off the ground. This was the maiden voyage for the Hwasong-14 series of missiles. It’s very success means that North Korea is literally on the cusp of becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. One without the constraints which have prevented the United States and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) from pushing the button all these years.

Most of us have focused our efforts and our writing on how to survive an EMP, assuming that any North Korean attack would come in that way. But what if not? What if they are so far behind in their thinking, that their war plans are to use a conventional nuclear attack, destroying some major city? Are we ready for that.

I grew up in the waning years of the Cold War, learning what to do in the event of a thermonuclear war. That was what got me started in survival in the first place. But today, few remember those lessons on what to do if an ICBM were to head our way.

First of all, chances are that we would get some warning. Flight time from North Korea to the USA is over a half hour, which could give some people the chance of escaping target cities. But few would actually make it out, as the highways turned to parking lots.

Those within the blast radius of the bomb would have no chance of survival. This includes those who are within the fireball itself, which can be several miles across, and those farther out. How far depends on the yield of the bomb itself. Many of today’s nuclear bombs will kill anyone within a 16 to 20 mile range, between the heat, blast wave (wind) and radiation.

But I want to talk about those who are farther out than that. Whether or not those people live or die will depend a lot on their actions. They will have only a few minutes or even seconds to survive, so their reaction will have to be swift and certain.

Beyond the range mentioned above, the first risk that people will face is the blast wave. This will produce winds upwards of 200 miles per hour, at a distance of 16 to 20 miles per hour. Those winds will tear apart homes, stores and even warehouses, tossing about debris like it is mere paper. Without proper protection, people within the range of those winds will be killed or injured by flying objects.

In the time available, the best action to take is to find something secure to hide behind, placing it between you and the epicenter of the blast. By secure, I’m referring to something strong and immovable, such as a cement wall. Lay on the ground, as close behind the wall as you can, covering your head with your arms and crossing your legs. Open your mouth slightly, equalizing the air pressure on the inside and outside of your head, to prevent your eardrums from rupturing. Remain there, as you are in the safest place to wait out the blast, short of an underground shelter.

Once the blast wave passes, it will be time to move to shelter. The next big risk at this range is that of fallout. You will need to be in a shelter that will protect you from that fallout for as much as 14 days. This means that your shelter should be stocked with food, water and other supplies, as it is unlikely that any other supplies will be available to you.

So where do you go for a fallout shelter? That depends a lot on where you live. The best place is a basement, as that offers protection from the direct radiation of the explosion, as well as some overhead protection from the fallout.

But for a basement shelter to work well, it must be protected from the potential of the building collapsing on top of it. This means building a box, with a strong roof, in the basement and using that as your fallout shelter. The box needs to be big enough for you and your family, as well as the supplies which you will need to survive the 14 days. Don’t forget about the need of a toilet as well, which should be located in a separate, closed off area.

If you or anyone in your family gets sick during that time, they need to be taken to receive medical attention immediately. The early symptoms of radiation sickness can look like nothing more serious than the flu, so you can’t take chances. The risk of radiation sickness is serious enough, that you should risk leaving your fallout shelter to seek medical attention.

This is obviously serious stuff and I hope we never have to use it. Even though our guns won’t be of much use in such a situation,  you should still keep your powder dry and your survival gear, especially those supplies you’ll need in the shelter, close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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