How to Build a Nuclear Attack Preparedness Kit

"The word is officially coming to an end" GIF
The first step is admitting you have a problem.

A nuclear attack is a truly unpredictable disaster, since it could happen anywhere, at anytime… and people hundreds of miles away from the center could be affected. Deciding what you’ll need might be a struggle, but having some supplies on hand will give you a better shot at survival.

You might be sheltering in place for days at a time, or if your home becomes unsafe, you may need to move quickly. Make sure your kit is portable.

Here’s how you should make a nuclear attack preparedness kit.

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Step 1: Find a sturdy backpack; fill it with essentials

The items should include:


Add bleach to your kit! Nine parts water and one part bleach will disinfect your water. That’s about 16 drops of bleach from a medicine dropper per one gallon of water. Make sure your bleach is plain old chlorine bleach; no scents or additional cleaners.

Step 2: Add pet-survival essentials

If you’re a horse girl, check out the 1966 recommendations for how to keep your livestock safe (spoiler alert: you need a big building with thick walls). If you have smaller pets, you should be able to bring them with you when you shelter in place or evacuate.

Here are the items to pack in your emergency kit for your pets:

  • At least a week’s supply of pet food
  • 1 liter of water per pet per day
  • Any specific medicines that your pet might require
  • Pet vaccination cards
  • Leash, harness, and carrier for easy transportation
  • A comforting toy that can calm them during stressful times

Step 3: Add outdoor survival items

The last place you want to be during or immediately after a nuclear attack is outdoors, so you should stay in your shelter as long as possible after the explosion. Depending on the breakdown in services that follows in the weeks after the attack, you may need to prepare to travel. You may need:

bus on fire
Do not go outside until you absolutely have to. Wait out the flaming buses if you can.

Step 4: Add clothes

You’ll need the following for each person in your family:

  • A full change of clothes
    • If anyone was outdoors during the blast, they will need to remove all of their clothes and place them in a containment bag to limit exposure to radiation. Consider two sets of clothes per person for this reason.
  • A long sleeve layer
  • A warm jacket
  • Outdoor shoes with good soles (hiking or snow boots, based on the climate in your area)
Rule of Thumb

Fire, falling towers, and EMP may make it difficult or impossible to use your phone’s network. Maps and physical media for emergency first aid may become very important.

Keep all of your prep kit items at home in your best shelter location–this place will be underground or in a central windowless room. Keep the most important items in a go-bag in your house in case you need to evacuate. Keep additional go-bags in your vehicle and workplace. Make sure your family knows that the emergency items are for emergencies only, and should not be removed from their location.

Paranoid? Nope; it’s a nuclear attack you’re trying to survive. You might even want to print out this reminder sheet to keep in each bag.

Alternative: Pre-packaged go-bags

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of building an emergency survival kit on your own, consider getting pre-packaged kits. 

Here are our top picks for prepacked go-bags.

What else can we do to prepare?

Jigsaw puzzle
You’re going to be stuck inside and you can’t go to the windows. A puzzle might be a good idea.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.