The possibility of nuclear war is not a pleasant thought. The human mind can scarcely comprehend what would occur in the aftermath. Even so, thermonuclear weapons exist as does the possibility of their deployment.
Should a nuclear exchange occur, there would be a great loss of life following the initial blast, fire storms, blast winds, et cetera. There would also be loss of life due to short and long-term exposure to radiation. The damage to the environment (including food and water) would be irreversible. The initial threat to human and other life supported by the environment would continue for many years.
Know the Targets
Nuclear targets would likely be the same targets for terrorist attacks or any other war-like action. They include, but would not be limited to, the following areas:
- Military bases, airfields, storage areas and other military locations
- Large cities and state capitals
- National capitals (example: Washington D.C. in the United States)
- Government buildings
- Airports, water ports and other commercial ports
- Areas of large industry
- Other areas of population, national or state significance, military presence or government presence
Get Inside, Stay Inside
Nuclear attack is one scenario that requires people to take immediate shelter and stay there in order to shield yourself and your loved ones from its aftermath. Following a nuclear blast, winds of up to 600 mph carry radiation far away from the target. Quick reaction time is key. The moment you know a nuclear attack is eminent, seek shelter.
Some official information advises sheltering for at least 48 hours. However, it is advisable to plan for a much longer period of time (at least a week or two, if possible). When the dust has settled, opening the door that separates you from the outside environment will be risky, but allowing air inside will at some point be necessary.
If wind is present, keep the door shut. Winds will lift the radiated earth and dust from the ground and carry it inside where you and your family are then exposed. Do not go outside and walk around until the environment stabilizes. When you must venture out, be aware that whatever is on the ground is highly toxic to all forms of biological life, water and everything in the environment. Cover yourself well and remove clothing/shoes before reentering your shelter or home.
- Prepare Your House. Make sure your home is leak-proof. In other words, if you know you have a wall separation from its foundation where the air from outside can get in, make the necessary repairs now. In the aftermath of a nuclear attack, the point is to make sure the outside air stays outside. Exposure to the initial radiation resulting from a thermonuclear blast would have disastrous effects on human health. Radiation causes great suffering to those who do survive. NOTE: After an attack, you may need to use plastic sheeting, duct tape or other supplies to seal off a room (or several rooms) where you and your family can safely stay. Remember, do not make a room air-tight for days because oxygen depletes quickly. At some point, you will have to allow air (oxygen) in. Allow as much time as possible to pass before unsealing the room or rooms you are in.
- Keep Sheltering Supplies On Hand. Necessary supplies include duct tape, plastic sheeting, dust masks (or even face and/or gas masks, if possible), hazard suits (if possible) and garbage bags (several hundred – large and small), old sheets and old towels and tools (wrenches, pliers or other) to shut off utilities. Include books and decks of cards. It is important to keep the mind active in aftermath of disasters. Do not underestimate the power of aftermath trauma.
- At-home Survival Kit (“ASK”). Make sure your at-home survival kit includes flashlights, batteries, bandages (for treatment of thermal burns), antibiotic ointment, first aid booklet or pamphlet showing emergency medical t
reatment, baby wipes (4 packages per person for washing), bleach wipes (for sanitizing), bottles of bleach (for sanitizing), whistles, a radio that is powered by crank (emergency radio), plenty of canned food and bottled water. If you have small children, remember to plan for diapers and other needs. Keep changes of old clothes with your at-home survival kit.
- Stable, Non-Perishable Foods. Store canned foods (even if you do not generally eat them), white and/or wheat rice, beans, canned or powdered milk, Pasta, Oats (old fashioned whole oats are more nutritious), and as much distilled water as you can store (one gallon per day, per person, is ideal).
- Pet Supplies. A large number of people consider their pets family. Don’t forget about storing extra food and supplies (sealed) for your pet. Waste management will also be an issue (just as it will for humans when no water or power is available). To deal with this problem, plan for extra garbage bags, pet pads, food, water, et cetera, for Fido. He will be sheltering with you and you will not be able to allow him outdoors because of the risk of exposure.
Preparations such as those made for other types of disasters apply in the context of nuclear exchanges. You do not need to spend a lot of money getting prepared for nuclear or other types of disasters. Pick up a few extra items each time you go shopping and find an area to safely seal and store them.
Author has extensive training and professional experience in emergency management, domestic preparedness and teaching citizen preparedness. However, this information is not all inclusive. Reader should do independent research on thermonuclear and other disaster aftermaths and then prepare accordingly.
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