This can be a heavy subject or a fun little trivia, depending on how you look at it. If it ever happens in your lifetime, hopefully you’ll know what to do. But if it never happens, then you can use the stuff you learned in this article as an ice breaker. Win-win.
Either way, today we’ll talk about nuclear explosion and what you must do before, during, and after.
How to React to a Nuclear Explosion
Did you know that you’d only have at most 45 minutes to react to the a nuclear bomb warning? If you live in the immediate blast zone, all you can do is get your loved ones inside the car and run away as fast as possible.
And if you live just outside the immediate blast zone, you’re still going to be affected by the radiation of the nuclear explosion.
So what’s the right action to do?
1. Know the Different Stages of Nuclear Explosion
The first stage is the thermal pulse. At this stage, you’ll see an extremely bright light and huge pulse of heat. Actually, you shouldn’t see it because the flash can leave you blinded temporarily even if you look at it from a distance.
Second, the blast. The extreme explosion which sends off lots of pressure and high winds for miles and miles.
Third, the prompt radiation. The extreme output of both x-ray and gamma radiation that causes severe burns. If you are close enough to the ground zero, you don’t have to worry about this stage because the blast would have already killed you.
Fourth, the residual radiation. The output of alpha and beta radiation by the ground at the location where the explosion happened. If you weren’t close enough to be killed by the explosion, then you probably won’t have to experience this stage either.
Finally, the fallout, which is what will impact people for miles and miles. Fallout is when the radioactive particles from the explosion are scattered by the wind. It takes at least 15 minutes until the fallout stage ends and the radioactive particles fall back to the ground level.
If you’re close, but not close enough to die immediately from the explosion and destroyed buildings, fallout is what will kill you.
2. Listen to the Warning
Most countries have a warning system for their citizen if a nuclear bomb has been launched.
When the warning has been issued, don’t panic and listen to every detail of instruction. It’s hard not to panic, but you’ll need to know exactly what is taking place and where, so you can know if you are in the blast area or the fallout area.
3. Head Underground
After the warning, act quickly and seek shelter.
If you have a nuclear or fallout shelter with supplies, then you’ll need to quickly head for that area. If not, then just stay indoors.
It’s not actually recommended to go outside at all, but if you know there’s still much time left until the impact, head to the nearest building with a basement or the middle of a big building. Again, it’s not recommended, but you might need this information if you know you’re not safe inside your own house.
You want to put as much soil, concrete, and brick between you and the outside world as possible.
4. Don’t Look at It
If you are outside or there’s a window nearby, don’t look at the explosion. This could cause temporary blindness and make it very difficult to get to safety as efficiently as possible.
So as awe-struck as you may be at the time, you need to look away.
Even if you are outside of the immediate blast zone, you could still be inside of a fallout zone. Which means, the clock begins to tick for you.
5. The Rule of Thumb
If you are outside during the explosion and aren’t sure if you are in the fallout zone. Hold out your arm, raise one thumb, and close one eye. If the mushroom cloud is larger than your thumb, then you are in the fallout zone.
If it is not, then you should be safe for the time being. You still need to seek shelter and wait for further instruction, but you shouldn’t be as worried about the radioactive material being all over you.
6. If Outside, Hit the Deck
Not everyone can get indoors after the warning.
If this is the case, lie as flat on the ground as possible. Then cover your head with your arms and try to protect it as much as possible.
After the explosion, don’t immediately get up and think you are in the clear. It can take up to 30 seconds for the shock wave to hit you.
If you’re in a car and can’t get to the nearest building, stop the car and don’t go outside the car at all. Then lie down or duck.
After the shock wave, go and find a better shelter. You have 10 minutes before the fallout arrives.
7. Take a Bath
If you’re outside when the fallout arrives, throw away your clothes then take a bath.
Use soap and water to wash any exposed skin. Be careful not to scrub too hard or cause abrasions on your skin. This will allow radioactive material on your skin to get inside of your body.
Wash your hair, too, but do not use conditioner as this can actually cause radioactive material to stick to your hair instead of rinsing it out.
Wipe off your eyes, eyelashes, ears, and that you blow your nose thoroughly to expel any radioactive material that could be stuck in those areas.
If water is scarce, use a wet cloth.
Don’t forget to wash your pets too.
8. Create a Shelter Inside a Shelter
After the fallout, a lot of radioactive material will still be flying around and some could penetrate your fallout shelter before you get rescued, which can be anywhere from two weeks to a month (or more). While the radiation won’t immediately kill you, it might have some impact to your body.
Here’s a tips if you don’t think your shelter is good enough to protect you from the radiation. Put a table in the center of your shelter and layer the table with lots of thick blankets. Then hide inside.
9. Prepare Some Supplies
Because you can’t go out after a nuclear attack, ideally you should have all these supplies ready in your shelter before the event:
- A dust mask
- Moist towelettes
- Non-perishable food items
- A can opener
- Cell phone
- A change of clothes
- An extra cell phone charger
- Extra cell phone batteries
- Garbage bags
- A hand-crank radio
- Flashlight with extra batteries
Packaged food items are safe to consume if they’re inside the building before the impact.
10. Acute Radiation Sickness
Finally, if someone is vomiting, they might have the Acute Radiation Sickness that occurs when someone has been exposed to too much of the radioactive particles.
If it happens within the hour of being in the fallout shelter, they are in trouble and will need professional treatment.
But if the vomiting doesn’t occur until 4 hours or later, then they should be okay within a week after getting some rest. You can also give them potassium iodide pills to help with the sickness. It is a good idea to keep them in your first-aid kit.