We aim to be completely prepared for every eventuality that we can, and lingering on many of our minds is preparing for the day when countries choose to deploy nuclear weapons. The best first step to preparing for those events, however, is to know exactly what is involved in each stage of nuclear fallout, and then constructing safety protocols that meet the needs of your family and land.
The circumference that would be affected in the immediate blast depends on the size and type of weapon deployed, so it is hard to pinpoint a number of miles that would be affected. A more effective strategy in terms of evaluating nuclear fallout would be to examine each chronological step in the fallout process, rather than looking at it in terms of distance from the bomb.
First, the initial blast would release a wind over of a hundred miles per hour (imagine a giant tornado). Combine that with heat in excess of a million degrees, and anything in the initial path of the explosion will be instantly killed or destroyed. In addition, the change in air pressure caused by the blast would collapse most, if not all, of the buildings in the immediate vicinity. In a city like New York or Los Angeles, that means 22 million lives lost in the first few minutes following an attack—and that’s before you consider any of the additional radiation deaths caused over time.
Initial radiation will kill anyone in the path of the explosion if the fire and heat does not, but that intense radiation will not travel far. However, as time goes on after a nuclear weapon has been detonated, additional radiation falls from the sky onto the earth. This radiation can spread for hundreds of miles, depending on weather conditions and how far the radiation is blown or carried by the wind. When the Chernobyl meltdown occurred, Ukraine was not the only country impacted by nuclear fallout: Belarus and Russia were also severely hit by radiation. Most shockingly, nuclear facilities in Sweden recorded increased levels of radiation caused by the Chernobyl explosion.
Long-term radiation exposure after a nuclear meltdown or attack can cause cancer, birth defects, shorter life expectancies in general, sterility and decreased fertility, and genetic mutations. This radiation seeps into the ground and can continue to affect populations for years, as the half-life of uranium ranges from thousands to millions of years, depending on the type used. Future generations of Americans—were their families to survive the initial blast—could continue to be effected by the fallout of a nuclear attack that occurred before they were even conceived. Because of this, it is drastically important to build shelters on your land (if possible) and to relocate as quickly as possible (especially if you cannot reasonably build a shelter).
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
When a nuclear device is detonated, it will produce a high voltage surge that will permanently ruin every electrical device in the detonation radius. Should a large enough device be detonated in a central location—Kansas, for example—all vehicles, computers, electronic equipment, communication equipment, and planes across the nation would go down. Although a Faraday cage could potentially protect your own electronics, it’s going to be hard to use them if the country’s infrastructure has gone down. The U.S. has no safeguards against this type of attack, and our entire country would immediately be in a state of emergency. In many cities, an EMP would cause a mortality rate of over 90 percent simply because of lack of access to water, especially in desert cities in Arizona and Nevada. Because so much of our power systems are now online, it is also entirely possible that our power grids would go offline permanently. It is extremely important to make sure that there is a substantial supply of clean water stored in your home, especially if you live in an area that would suffer from water shortages almost immediately.
Protecting Land And Animals
A huge potential source of danger for radiation poisoning is contaminated farmland. As radiation seeps into the land, you risk all of your crops being contaminated with that radiation for many years if you do not deal with it properly. The most important step you can take to protect your land is to wait for officials to let you know that radiation levels have dropped enough to resume working on your land. There are several strategies you can employ to significantly reduce radiation levels on your land, including liming acid soils to reduce the presence of radioactive strontium in the crops you are growing. Additionally, you should reach out to your USDA county defense boards, as they will be able to help you determine exactly which soil treatments you should use to reduce radiation on your land, as the optimal strategy for cleansing pastures and crops depends on the amount of your initial exposure.
If you have livestock on your land, the most important thing that you can do is to properly shield them if you know an attack is coming. While may not be possible if someone sets off a dirty bomb, it is likely that you will have at least some warning if another country has launched a nuclear attack. Move your animals into a barn as soon as you have notice that something is wrong. Inside the barn, it is important that you have stores of clean feed and water, as these may be hard to come by in the first few days after the explosion. The more crowded your livestock is, the better chance of survival they have, as they will shield each other from the fallout. If any of your animals are left outside during the initial fallout, it is possible to substantially decontaminate them by washing them off with water; however, depending on their level of exposure, they may not survive.
If you can keep your livestock protected from the worst of the radiation, decontaminate your soil, and put aside viable sources of food for your family and feed for your livestock, you have a good chance of survival. If you have additionally stored clean water in your home, you should be able to manage within your shelter for the time it takes for systems around the country to begin operating again.