3 Steps to Surviving Nuclear War

3 Steps to Surviving Nuclear War

Being a human is the worst sometimes. For example, we invented nuclear weapons, used them to kill thousands of civilians, correctly perceived that they were an overwhelmingly devastating instrument of terror, and then continued making them. It’s a legacy I wouldn’t wish on any species.

Step 0 of this guide is to take some deep breaths and accept that until we find a way to nuclear disarmament, we need to know what to do during a nuclear attack. Better safe than sorry.

If you’re close to the center of the explosion, you are not likely to survive, but people many miles away will also be affected, and those people have a chance to limit their exposure to danger with a few smart moves.

mushroom cloud part of a nuclear attack GIF
Thanks, I hate it.

Here are 3 ways you can get prepared for a nuclear attack:

  1. Find Safe Places and Prepare to React Quickly

First things first! Close and cover your eyes tightly with your arms to protect your eyes from the flash. If you’re blinded by it, everything else will become much harder.

It’s possible an explosion will happen while you’re away from home. Knowing which places are safe will allow you to make quick decisions. The safest place is a designated fallout shelter. These were easier to find in the 1960’s, but there are still some around! Look up your area’s designated fallout shelters and make sure your family is aware of their locations.

how to prepare for a nuclear attack - fallout shelter

In addition to those locations, you should make an inventory of buildings that would make good shelter if you’re caught out of the house. Brick and concrete buildings are great, and being underground is ideal. The fewer windows your shelter has, the better! The best makeshift fallout shelters are basements, subway tunnels, and central windowless areas of the middle floors of high-rise buildings.

Determine the best place to shelter at your home. If you don’t have a basement, internal windowless rooms are best. Make sure your family knows what to do at work and school as well; feel free to ask the school administration if they have a nuclear preparedness plan.

Rule of Thumb

Make a point of looking for safe places near your daily commute routes, since your car is a terrible place to shelter.

Once you’re in your shelter, stay far away from any windows. Take cover under a table and fold your body to cover your face and hands as much as possible. Cover your nose and mouth with your clothing. If you’re able, cover the vents and turn off the HVAC system to limit exposure to contaminated outside air.

Get more details about surviving a nuclear emergency here.

  1. Build an Emergency Preparedness Kit

After you’ve located safe spaces and practiced what to do in an emergency, it’s a great idea to build a kit of the things you’ll need if you have to shelter in place. Having a kit at home, in your car, and at work will help you cover your bases for a few days while services may not be available.

Learn more about building a nuclear emergency preparedness kit here.

  1. Build an Emergency Communication Plan

An extremely important step is to make sure your family knows how to contact one another, and what to do if they can’t reach you. Remember, you might not be together as a family when a nuclear attack happens. 

Panic defeats preparedness. Instead, plan for panic management. Prepare an emergency communication plan. 

Check out the guide to preparing an emergency communication plan here.

bedroom in a basement
There’s never been a better time to up the cozy factor in your basement.

About the Author

Writer, editor, and professional joker with an environmental science background. Like most trivia nerds, she's an ardent admirer of Only Connect competitors, but more at home on the QI field.

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