How to Survive a Nuclear Attack Part 1

About how to survive a nuclear attack including information about radiation sickness and nuclear fallout hazards.

How to Survive a Disaster



Understand the hazards of a nuclear attack. All nuclear explosions cause light, heat, and blast, which occur immediately. In addition, explosions that are on or close to the ground create large quantities of dangerous radioactive fallout particles, most of which would fall to earth during the first 24 hours.

People closest to the explosion would probably be killed or seriously injured. Those a few miles away, in the fringe area, would survive but would be endangered by the blast, heat, and fires that the explosion might start.

Nuclear Fallout. When a nuclear weapon explodes near the ground, great quantities of pulverized earth and other debris are sucked up into the nuclear cloud. Radioactive gases produced by the explosion condense on and into this debris, producing radioactive fallout particles. Within a short time, these particles fall back to earth. Radiation is the invisible gamma rays these particles give off. Most of the radiation is given off quickly; therefore, the first few hours or days after an attack are the most dangerous period. The particles themselves would look like grains of salt or sand, but the rays could not be seen, tasted, smelled, or felt. Areas close to the nuclear explosion might receive fallout within 15 to 30 minutes. It might take 5 to 10 hours or more for the particles to drift down on a community 100 or 200 mi. away.

Radiation sickness is caused by physical and chemical changes in the cells of the body due to the rays given off by fallout particles. Large doses of radiation will cause death, while small or medium doses will induce sickness. Those in good health will recover from the sickness, but the very young and old or those injured or in ill health may not. The same dose received over a short period of time is more damaging than if it is received over a longer period. Radiation sickness is not contagious or infectious. People exposed to fallout radiation do not become radioactive and thereby dangerous to other people.

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