Imagine this: A sudden bright light followed by the sounds of the heavens opening. An intense heat blast smashes through the city and a gigantic mushroom cloud slowly rises. Cars swerve from the roads amid the screams of fear, panic, and pain. And that’s only if you have enough time to see the spectacle, before being blasted off the face of the earth. It’s an apocalyptic image alright, but would a nuclear blast really spell the end of the world? Are there any steps that we could take in advance to avoid frying as the nuclear device is detonated in our home city? That’s what we’ll find out, in this episode of The Infographics Show, How to Survive Nuclear Fallout.     

The debate on whether or not we could survive a nuclear war is still wide open. But one thing is for sure – the weapons are getting darn right nastier. The nuclear warheads that the world has at its disposal right now are hundreds of times more deadly than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War. We have no clear picture of the catastrophic effect of all of these weapons being detonated at the same time. And that’s what is likely to happen in the event of a nuclear conflict. One thing that’s for sure is that those who are able to survive a massive nuclear attack would be those who have mentally and logistically prepared for such an event. So grab a pencil and a notebook and jot down how to best survive should this tragic event ever occur.

When the blast happens, you want to be indoors. Or preferably in the depths of a nuclear fall-out bunker for at least 48 hours. But in reality it will only be the president, the very rich, and the political elite who will be safely tucked away underground. You can fully supply your premises to make sure you won’t be having to pop out to the shops for a loaf of bread during that critical 48 hour fallout period. Be smart by supplying your home with lots of canned food.

A good supply of fresh bottled water is also essential. You’ll need 1 gallon of fresh water per person per day. You will do well to have an old wireless radio powered by batteries to keep up to date with events. A whistle for communicating across distance is super handy, and a cell phone with a solar charger is brilliant. For those of you planning ahead, you’ll want to keep in stock a basic first aid kit, a medical instruction book, and a supply of required prescription medications. You’ll also need a flashlight with batteries and a map and compass for navigating your escape.             

If you happen to be within a few miles of the initial detonation, the chances are you are already dusted. The heat would rise to about 540,000 degrees fahrenheit (300,000 degrees Celsius) and at the epicenter of the blast, almost everything would be totally flattened. The area one to four miles outside of the epicenter would be dangerous; you’d probably have burnt skin from the blast. Housing would be damaged. Windows would shatter and paint would peel from the buildings.

That means shelter is the main consideration – find somewhere safe. If you were looking in the direction of the blast, you would probably suffer some form of temporary blindness, and the fallout would remain hazardous up to 20 miles from detonation. Once a nuclear device is detonated, radioactive materials are blasted up into the atmosphere before raining back down to earth. This hazardous material literally falls out of the sky and that’s why we use the term fallout. The material can travel for hundreds of miles adapting to wind patterns, and human exposure to this fallout is extremely hazardous.

If contact is made with the fallout, you will suffer acute radiation sickness, cellular degradation, and radiation syndrome. This could kill you up to 30 days after initial exposure. Fallout does, however, decay at night, so areas that are contaminated by day may be safer to patrol at night. If you survived the blast and have taken cover during the day, your goal is to do whatever scavenging that may be required at night, while hatching an escape plan. But first up, you will need to evaluate the extent of your immediate danger.

A literal rule of thumb comes into play here. Find a position where you can observe that mushroom cloud of doom. Hold out your arm and extend your thumb. Close one eye and compare the size of your thumb to the size of the mushroom cloud. If that mushroom cloud is bigger than your thumb, then you are in the radiation zone and you have 15 minutes to escape. If, however, the cloud is smaller than your thumb, then you should be in a safe zone but you will probably want to be heading away from the cloud, if it is safe to do so.

The more distance you can put between yourself and the fallout, the better for your health, but remember to stay under cover for those first 48 hours. Areas such as office basements are safer than a first floor building. The heavier and denser the exterior of your shelter, the better, so you are looking for thick walls built from concrete or bricks. The greatest threat from fallout is during the first 48 hours, and then the next two weeks. After this initial period, the fallout will lose its toxicity quite rapidly. So if you happen to have food, and more importantly a water supply in your shelter, you may be able to sit it out and perhaps catch up on a TV series or two.

But remember, if you see a cloud of debris moving towards you, you may need to up sticks pretty fast. You should only consider jumping in a vehicle if you have the means to start it and drive away within that crucial 15 minute time frame. Once you’ve established a base, you will need to get clean. Failure to clean away all that radioactive material could result in deadly levels of radiation on the skin.

If you are with a group, instruct everyone who was exposed to remove their clothing, put the radioactive garments in a plastic bag, tie the end, and place it as far away as possible. Use running water to wash the body with lots of soap and water. Blow your nose, and make sure you clean behind those ears. You will need to find new clothing for you and your party. You will also need to attend to those radiation and thermal burns known as beta burns. If the skin has blistered, immerse yourself in cold water, and then cover the area with a sterile compress or Vaseline.

After you have managed all this, you should be critically aware of subsequent attacks. Yep, most probably, that nuclear blast won’t be the only rocket in this firework party. Keep your shelter intact, but be prepared to move and take supplies with you. You will generally be safer out of the cities, but make sure you aren’t heading to any out of town military bases that could well be the next target site. Maybe heading to a network of deep underground caves would be the best strategy, seeing that the world is dead set on blasting their way back to the stone-age.       

So, do you think you could survive nuclear fallout? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, be sure to watch our other video calledHow Long Do You Remain Conscious if your Head is Chopped Off. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!

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