Turbulent events on the international scene in recent days brought with them questions and threats for which the majority of Europeans were certainly not prepared. Of course, there was a risk of a nuclear conflict before, but few felt the acute threat in this direction. Clearing up in your head the procedure for how to behave in the event of an atomic explosion can be useful not only in the event of an attack with nuclear warheads.
Reduced, not disappearing risk
Even such centrifuges for the production of uranium are a very technically demanding and dangerous matter. After all, a threat from one of the great powers is not even necessary, a technical malfunction of the warning system is enough. However, the truth is that a larger number of atomic bombs dropped at once would not be in anyone’s interest, because the consequences would inevitably affect the person who originally threatened the explosions. The radioactive fallout from around the Earth would reach it as well.
So what to do in the event of such an explosion over the city? Within seconds, there is a flash first, and the sound is delayed. A third of the energy of the explosion reaches us as light and also infrared radiation. The peak is one second after the explosion, but the light flash lasts longer than 5 seconds. If you immediately – at the first flash – seek shelter, most of the radiation will avoid you. Ideally, jump into a ditch somewhere, speed wins here over the quality of cover.
You can also use the hood in an emergency
In extreme cases, when there really is “nothing to jump for”, simply throw yourself face down on the ground. Head away from the explosion, hands under the body and a hood or other head covering. If you are currently in the car, stop, pull the handbrake and get under the line of the windows, of course close them. Hide anywhere inside under a table, also under a line of windows. Alternatively, throw the furniture to the side as a radiation shield. It won’t stop her, but it’s better than nothing.
In the unprotected surface of the skin, radiation from a nuclear explosion can cause third-degree burns, almost 9 kilometres from the epicentre of the explosion. This is the longest-range effect of an airdrop bomb, and it is also the most insidious. The sudden death of nerve cells dulls any pain. You won’t notice the lesion afterwards, and any touch will damage it even more. If you hear the warning sirens and have about 5-10 minutes to spare, things will go noticeably better for you.
The shockwave consumes half the energy
Half of all the energy of a nuclear explosion goes into the shock wave. If you are closer than 5 km from the explosion site, there is a high probability that residential buildings will at least partially collapse. In that case, the main risk is the debris itself. In the explosion in Hiroshima, only 80,000 of the 340,000 inhabitants died in the first moments, even though 70% of the buildings were destroyed. Traditional Japanese houses have a light wooden structure and paper walls. Therefore, they are far from being as dangerous as urban concrete structures.
Basements are a reliable place in this regard. Eizo Nomura survived it and was 170 meters from the explosion site in Hiroshima. However, the entrance to these areas will probably be covered up and you may have to wait several days for help. So keep water and supplies handy and also seal windows and vents. Then much less radioactive dust gets into space. The increasing power of the warhead extends the immediate destruction, but the range of the radiation grows much more slowly.
A question of wavelength
Gamma radiation photons have a very short wavelength. Therefore, they are also well absorbed by the surrounding air. The more powerful the bomb, the better the higher detonation height above the target. Any use of a nuclear warhead will certainly be followed by a worsening of the international political situation. During the post-Soviet years, many shelters degraded and lost their reliability. If minutes have passed since the explosion and you’re still alive, you’re probably in a normal basement.
The best follow-up option is to do nothing, at least for a day. If you have water and supplies, even for a few days. No external influence such as a fire is likely to put you at risk. Hiroshima was engulfed in a fiery inferno after the explosion. But it was the result of debris from wood and paper that caught fire due to open fires and bad wiring. Collapsed concrete walls reliably cover most of the combustible material. So take your time, the radiation is gradually decreasing.
Are you currently concerned about such an intervention somewhere nearby?
In the video below you can see a deep-dive interview with an expert, that will go over everything you need to know.
I highly recommend you watch the entire video if you want to stand a chance of surviving a nuclear war!