Capable of happening at any time and without warning, nuclear explosions can devastate entire cities and affect individuals miles away from the detonation site. Nuclear explosions can result from a variety of sources including, nuclear weapons, improvised nuclear devices, and nuclear power plant accidents. Nuclear explosions can cause a number of hazardous conditions that can seriously injure or kill individuals up to several miles away from the blast area.
Comprised of two main events, a nuclear explosion consists of a blast wave and radioactive fallout. The blast from a nuclear explosion generates a wave of intense heat and light as well as devastating pressure waves that can damage buildings several miles away. Immediately following the blast wave, harmful radioactive fallout settles from the atmosphere back down to ground level. Most harmful in the first few hours following a nuclear explosion, fallout poses a serious health risk to anyone exposed to the harmful radioactive particles. With such a devastating potential, it is of the utmost importance that individuals educate and prepare themselves for a nuclear event.
Before a Nuclear Explosion
Nuclear explosions can be truly devastating to citizens in the immediate vicinity of the blast and can cause extensive damage to structures miles away from the detonation area. Despite this, individuals can take action to minimize their chances of sustaining an injury and better their chances of surviving a nuclear disaster. One such action you can take is to identify shelter locations.
In the event that a nuclear explosion is imminent, it is important that you are able to find refuge as quickly as possible to minimize your exposure to the harmful conditions associated with a nuclear explosion. Ideally, a shelter is somewhere you spend a majority of your time such as your home, work, or school. Buildings constructed of concrete or brick provide the best protection, however, the walls and roof of your home will provide adequate shelter in most cases. Mobile homes, vehicles, and outdoor areas do not provide adequate protection during a nuclear blast. Consequently, you should identify buildings where you can seek shelter in while you are commuting to work or school. In addition to identifying shelters, it is also important that individuals construct an emergency plan and build a disaster supplies kit.
Having a family emergency communications plan in place prior to a nuclear explosion will ensure that you and your family know what to do during a nuclear event and how to reunite with one another afterward. Along with an emergency communications plan, families should also assemble a basic disaster supplies kit that can be utilized in the event that you and your family are required to shelter in place for an extended period of time after a nuclear explosion. This kit should include enough food, water, and other basic supplies to last at least 72 hours. Ideally, your kit should contain enough food and water to adequately sustain your family for one week. In addition to these supplies, your disaster supplies kit should also include soap to be used for decontamination purposes and a set of clean clothes for everyone in the family. Furthermore, this kit should include a battery-powered and hand crank radio to be used if cellular or internet services are disrupted or unavailable after a nuclear disaster. For more information on how to prepare for a nuclear explosion, visit Ready.gov.
During a Nuclear Explosion
During a nuclear disaster, the intense heat, light, pressure waves, and radiation generated by the explosion pose the biggest threat to you and your family. To minimize you and your family’s exposure to these harmful conditions, it is important that you remember to get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned.
Get inside the nearest building to avoid the harmful conditions generated by a nuclear explosion. Once inside, go to the basement or the middle of the building to shield yourself from radioactive fallout.
Once inside, it is important that you remain inside for at least 24 hours unless you are advised to do otherwise by the local authorities. Staying inside will protect you and your family from the harmful radioactive fallout that can accumulate shortly after a nuclear explosion.
Stay tuned to local news, radio, and social media outlets to receive the most up to date emergency information and instructions. In the event that local television, cell phone, and internet services are unavailable, emergency information can be accessed with a battery-powered and hand crank radio.
Taking these three simple actions will help to keep you and your family safe both during and immediately after a nuclear explosion. Visit the Center for Disease Control’s Radiation Emergencies webpage for more information on what to do during a nuclear explosion.
After a Nuclear Explosion
A number of hazards can exist in the hours and days immediately following a nuclear explosion. These hazards can pose a serious threat to your health and safety. As a result, it is important that you act to mitigate these threats. One major threat present after a nuclear explosion is radioactive fallout. Radioactive material generated by a nuclear incident can have both short and long-term health consequences. To minimize the adverse effects associated with exposure to radioactive materials, it is important that you decontaminate yourself if you suspect that you have come into contact with radioactive fallout.
Individuals who were outside during or immediately after a nuclear explosion are most likely to be at risk from exposure to radioactive materials. Consequently, it is important that these individuals decontaminate themselves as soon as feasibly possible. Decontaminating yourself involves first removing any clothes that you were wearing while outside. It is advised to use caution when removing the outer layer of your clothing as excessive shaking can dislodge radioactive dust into the air that can then be inhaled. Once all clothing has been removed, it is recommended that it be placed in a plastic bag or other sealable container and placed in an unused area of your shelter. Next, you can proceed to wash any remaining radioactive material from your body by gently washing your skin with soap and plenty of water. If you do take a shower, use soap or shampoo and refrain from washing your hair with conditioner as it will cause radioactive materials to stick to your hair and scalp. Once you have decontaminated yourself, you can then put on clean clothes from a drawer or closet. After a nuclear explosion, it is also important to consider that water supplies can be contaminated by radioactive fallout.
In the event that municipal water supplies are contaminated, local public health officials will advise citizens to refrain from drinking any tap water and instead drink bottled water. Although unsafe to drink, surface or groundwater contaminated by radioactive materials will dilute harmful substances to extremely low levels. Resultantly, contaminated water can still be used for decontamination purposes.