Man-Made Disasters

You Do Not Want To Be In Your Car In The Event Of A Nuclear Blast

Some people feel that the possibility of a nuclear blast is very small, but most people would probably admit that it is not impossible.  Business Insider shares some information on how to protect yourself from the fallout created by a nuclear blast.

More than 14,900 nuclear weapons exist in the world, and kiloton-class nukes are proliferating in weapons stockpiles. In fact, a nuclear detonation of 10 kilotons or less by a terrorist is one of 15 disaster scenarios for which the US government has planned.

The panic that would result from such a scenario is unimaginable.  The more you know, the better you may be able to survive such a situation.  According to experts, there is one thing you definitely should not do.

According to Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, “Don’t get in your car.  Don’t try to drive, and don’t assume that the glass and metal of a vehicle can protect you.”

Avoiding driving after a nuclear blast is wise because streets would probably be full of erratic drivers, accidents, and debris.

But there is an even more important reason for not getting into your car for either protection or to drive somewhere.  It is very poor protection from nuclear fallout.

Fallout is a complex mixture of fission products, or radioisotopes, created by splitting atoms. Many of the fission products decay rapidly and emit gamma radiation, an invisible yet highly energetic form of light. Exposure to too much of this radiation in a short time can damage the body’s cells and its ability to fix itself — a condition called acute radiation sickness.

Trapped in sand, dirt, cement, metal, and anything else in the immediate blast area, the gamma-shooting fission products can fly more than five miles into the air. The larger pieces drop back down, while lighter particles can be carried by the wind before raining over distant areas.

“Modern vehicles are made of glass and very light metals, and they offer almost no protection,” he says. “You’re just going to sit on a road someplace” and be exposed.

So, what is the best option rather than trying to evade or outrun the fallout?

Your best shot at survival after a nuclear disaster is to get into some sort of “robust structure” as quickly as possible and stay there, Buddemeier said. He’s a fan of the mantra “go in, stay in, tune in.”

“Get inside … and get to the center of that building. If you happen to have access to below-ground areas, getting below ground is great,” he said. “Stay in 12 to 24 hours.”

The reason to wait is that levels of gamma and other radiation fall off exponentially after a nuclear blast as “hot” radioisotopes decay into more stable atoms and pose less of a danger.

The article goes on to say that he believe hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved if everyone was aware of this and followed these simple guidelines.  So, it sounds like it makes sense to resist the urge to run, no matter what you are feeling or what others are saying.

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