The topic of survival in a radioactive environment is a very broad one. You need to know how to shield yourself, how long to stay inside, when to eat and drink and how to hunt and eat animals safely after the blast. Here are a few basics to remember:
- Nuclear blast, leak or other event cause 2 types of radiation effects: initial and residual. You need to know how to reduce your exposure to minimize both effects. Initial radiation is radiation that occurs between the time of explosion and 1 minute from the time of explosion. During that short minute, the most intense gamma rays are produced by the explosion and they usually cause fatal exposure.
- If there is a nuclear blast, you may be injured by the blast itself, thermal radiation and nuclear radiation (including nuclear fallout). If you are too close to the blast, you are unlikely to survive due to the direct injury from explosion or due to receiving a fatal dose of radiation, so hopefully you have protected yourself by not living in large urban centers or close to nuclear power plants. Other injuries can be avoided or minimized by hiding in the shelter, shielding, washing and first aid.
- When talking about explosions, we can name 3 kinds of nuclear bursts: subsurface burst, surface burst and air burst. Each of these has very different effects and therefore your chances of survival and actions you take under each circumstance vary. Learn about surviving each type of burst.
- Shielding is the easiest and best protection against penetrating radiation in a survival situation. When shielding, keep in mind the half-value thickness rule: if a shelter of prescribed thickness reduces the radiation by 50%, adding another layer of the same thickness will reduce the remaining radiation by 50%. For example, if 9 inches of wood reduce radiation by 50%; this means that adding another 9 inches of wood educe the remaining 50% of radiation by another 50%. Essentially, this means that 19 inches of wood will reduce the original radiation by 75% and your exposure will be limited to 25%.
- Other very effective protective measures against penetrating radiation are time and distance. A couple things you need to know about time. First of all, radiation effects are cumulative and the longer you stay in the radioactive environment, the more it will affect you. Secondly, the longer the time from the initial nuclear event, the less radiation remains in the area. General rule concerning distance is that radiation intensity decreases by the square of the distance from the source.
- Radiation exposure alters your blood chemistry and makes you susceptible to infection. Make sure you wash all wounds and burns to rinse off radioactive particles (even washing with contaminated water is better than not washing at all) and cover wounds properly. Do your best to practice good hygiene and prevent colds and flu.
- If you are sick to your stomach, it is likely from radiation sickness and there is no treatment for that. However, you should get better with rest, fluids and food.
These are just a few facts about surviving the initial few hours. Your life after the blast is a whole other story.
Will you be ready? One little item you can add to your EDC and bug out bags is goggles. They will protect you from particles entering through your eyes.
To your survival,