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  1. #1

    Nuclear survival planning

    I wrote this years ago first for The Survival Report newsletter in the mid 90's and later for another website. I have edited just a smitch and updated some info here. I think it's time to brush up on this stuff if you need to.

    Nuclear Survival Planning
    Robert Henry

    Going to take a few minutes and go over some "basics" as far as your planning and preps for nuclear survival.

    I've been discouraged at times to hear survivalists say that they don't think nuclear war is survivable or they hope they get killed at the onset of it, etc. It seems ironic to me that so many of us plan for massive socioeconomic unrest, invasion by UN Blue Helmets, Chinese or little gray aliens, but nuclear war survival seems like such an insurmountable task.

    Much of this can be overcome with knowledge. Their has been a concentrated effort in the last 45 years to convince the American public that nuclear war isn't survivable. Myths like "everyone will be sterile", "the country will be a glass parking lot", "the living will envy the dead" are all non-sense. That last one reminds me of the scene in "Full Metal Jacket" where the main character is photographing Vietnamese killed by the communists and notes that "the dead only know one thing. It is better to be living."

    The sad fact is that many folks that wish they would be the first ones to go in a blinding flash will likely live a long time suffering and dieing. If they had a little knowledge and used some common sense, they could have lived. Their is nothing rocket science to nuclear war survival.

    Alright, I'm off the soapbox now... let's read something useful.

    So where do you begin? Go grab a state map. Get a map that you won't use for anything else. This will be the only time I tell you to make notations on a map. Don't worry, nothing to mess up your OPSEC though.

    Mark roughly where you are located at. Now we are going to mark every known and potential nuclear target in your state. These include, any and all military bases, population centers bigger than 100,000 , all seaports, all decent size airports, industrial centers among others.

    NOTE: this is for "worst case" planning, so no need to freak out and post that "all of that won't be hit" or "NK only has blah blah blah". And remember, just before and at the onset of each major war, people are still planning and preparing to fight THE LAST WAR. Just as the French thought they were good to go with the Maginot Line (thinking WWI trench warfare) and were surprised at the German's Blitzkreig. So the point is, don't underestimate the enemy and think "it will only be such and such." The reality is we won't know until, therefore we would be wise to consider everything. Also, once a nuclear device goes off in anger ANYWHERE in the world, suffice to say the chances of it becoming a major full scale nuclear war go up dramatically, despite what the media or your placated friends are saying or thinking.

    During the latter part of the Cold War, the communists started to opt for smaller warheads with more accurate rockets just as we had. While their was a small amount of 10 and 20 megaton weapons out there, I'd assume that if these behemoths are still out there, they are tasked for places like Cheyenne Mountain, Mt. Weather, etc. Figure 1 megaton blasts on each of the targets you marked on the map. You can get all analytical amount it and try to figure this or figure that, but a good quick rule of thumb would be to assume 1 megaton and a ground burst if you want to plan for worst case.

    Now, to get technical, not all of the targets will get hit with ground bursts. A weapon detonated above a city (called an "air burst") will actually produce more damage than a weapon detonated on the ground (called a "ground burst"). That's bad news if your in the city. But the good news is that air burst produce very little fallout. Everyone says they produce "no" fallout but I think that's a misnomer. Ground burst produce a lot of fallout. Dirt, debris from the blast are sucked up into the mushroom cloud and make radioactive. As they fall back to earth they are called "fallout." Some of the heavy items fall back very quickly, some of the light particles will fall a good distance downwind from the site of the blast.

    Just for sake of our "worst case" planning, let's figure that each of the targets you marked are going to get whacked with a ground burst. The "worst case" scenario is that every one of the targets you circled will be hit and be hit with a 1 megaton ground burst. Not likely, but again, we are planning for the worst.

    Alright, now we need to know the prevailing winds in your area. In general, in the U.S. they are West to East.

    So with the targets marked and your knowledge of the prevailing winds, you should be able to get a decent idea of what your up against.

    I personally, don't think their are too many areas of the U.S. that will escape fallout in a full scale, launch everything "use em or lose em" type war. Perhaps some areas on the West coast. But keep in mind these areas will likely get residual fallout from Russia and China (hopefully both, for their sake, not the West coast I mean).

    You should take this one step further and get a state map of the state directly West of your state and do the same thing.

    The notes you will need to take are:
    How far is each target from your location.
    What direction from you is each target.

    This will aid in your planning. Let's take an example:

    Joe figures out that he is 100 miles East (downwind) of major airbase. He is really lucky because this is the only target he is downwind of in his state. He makes up a note of "what to do" and puts it in his shelter with basic instructions as well as target notes.

    Joe is out gardening one day and sees a faint flash off to the West. The time has come, no "shoulda, woulda, coulda's" now, it's on. Joe gets his family into his shelter and makes a notation that the airbase is now toast and marks down the time he saw the flash. Joe had been keeping track of the weather (as everyone will from this point on) and recalls that the wind was blowing from the West at 10 miles per hour.

    Doing some simple math 100 miles divided by 10mph shows Joe that he probably will not get any fallout for a little less than 10 hours, provided no closer targets are hit. Joe should turn on and regularly monitor his survey meter anyway. But if their is still last minute things to do, he has a little time to do them in. This means things like bringing a little more food and water into the shelter NOT driving to Walmart to get things he should have been storing all along.

    What last minute things could he/should he be doing? Close up his house tightly, block his gate, mount a guard in case Johnny Sixpack next door knows TSHTF and thinks he's going to live off of your stuff, cover his firewood shed to avoid bringing fallout particles into the house later, move additional supplies in to the shelter, disconnect all electronics if they haven't already been fried, place large tarps over his garden areas (to keep fallout particles from getting into the soil), check and test all the systems of his shelter sanitation, air filtration, etc.

    Protection from radiation comes down to three things:
    Mass
    Distance
    Time

    We will cover these briefly than more in depth at a later date. Mass refers to anything you can put between you and the source of radiation (fallout particles). The denser the material the better. Dirt, wood, concrete are my three favorites, in that order. It is also the order of cheapest to more expensive.

    18" of dirt piled over the top of your shelter will provide a Protection Factor (PF) of about 40. That means that it will reduce the amount of radiation that makes it inside your shelter by a factor of 40. Shovel some more on and make it 36" and you'll have a PF of 1,000.

    So, let's say you have 3' of earth over your shelter for a Protection Factor of 1,000.

    You start getting rads at the rate of 100 rads per hour. 100 divided by 1,000= 0.1 rads per hour. A very survivable rate.

    What if you are downwind from the missile fields and are getting 5,000 rads per hour? 5,000 divided by 1,000= 5 rads per hour. Not a bad reduction huh?

    Distance - any distance you can put between yourself and the source of radiation, the better. If you put your shelter in the basement of your house and the fallout stays on the roof of your house, distance is working for you. You can also plan to go out if the rad count is low and sweep your roof off (a gas operated leaf blower would be very helpful in this) to again further the distance of the source of radiation from you. Wear a real gas mask and a protective suit obviously if you do this.

    Time - the radioactive isotopes that are the most dangerous are also the ones that decay the fastest. Radiation decays at a rate known as "7/10" or the "7/10 Rule." Simply put, for every seven fold increase in time, their is a 10 fold decrease in radiation.

    Example - H+10 hour Joe starts getting radiation via fallout. His survey meter reads 100 rads. Over the course of the next hour more arrives and the count finally reaches a maximum of 200 rads. Now, (baring Joe getting any fallout from any other blast) in 7 hours the 200 rads of radiation will have decayed down to just 20 rads. 7 hours X 7= 49 hours or two days for another seven fold increase in time. In two days that 20 rads will have decayed down to just 2 rads. 49 hours X 7=2 weeks for yet another seven fold increase in time. In two weeks the 2 rads will have decayed down to .2 rads. Very survivable.

    Plan for no less than a 2 week stay in your shelter, preferably a month. A protracted nuclear war may take even longer than a month.

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    "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed..."

  2. #2
    thanks. I have been planning an above ground storage structure/barn.. it's more expensive than I first thought so the process is being delayed....
    maybe I should be spending this time/money/effort on digging a hole!

  3. #3
    These are the effects of different degrees of acute radiation exposure on humans:
    30-70 RADS: Mild headache or nausea within several hours of exposure. Full recovery is expected.
    70-150 RADS: Mild nausea and vomiting in a third of patients. Decreased wound healing and increased susceptibility to infection. Full recovery is expected.
    150-300 RADS: Moderate nausea and vomiting in a majority of patients. Fatigue and weakness in half of victims. Infection and/or spontaneous bleeding may occur due to a weakened immune system. Medical care will be required for many, especially those with burns or wounds. Occasional deaths at 300 RADS exposure may occur.
    300-500 RADS: Moderate nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness in most patients. Diarrheal stools, dehydration, loss of appetite, skin breakdown, and infection will be common. Hair loss is visible in most over time. At the high end of exposure, expect a 50% death rate.
    Over 500 RADS: Spontaneous bleeding, fever, stomach and intestinal ulcers, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, low blood pressure, infections, and hair loss is anticipated in almost all patients. Death rates approach 100%.

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