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Nuclear fallout

Discussion in 'GATE Survival & Preparedness' started by Bilbo Bagins, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. Bilbo Bagins

    Bilbo Bagins Slacked jawed

    Sep 16, 2008
    I live 30 miles away from a city. My house is a wood frame with a poured concrete basement. My front door is ground level, but unfortunately my yard slopes to where I have a door in my basement leading out to the back yard. My plan was in case of nuclear attack was go to the laudary room which is a small room in the basement in the front corner of the house. I figured its the deepest part of the house and I could use the washer and dryer as shielding after I move it to the was facing the backyard. I also have a lot of heavy stuff, like a fridge and tool cabinets that I can add as additional shielding.

    Will this be enough to protect me from the radiation and fallout?

    Also my concern is with the dryer vent. I plan to seal it off with clothing and duct tape, but will that be enough, or am I better off sealing off the laudary room, and picking another part of the basement?

    Finally if the city gets hit with a nuke, and all communications go out, how long should I stay sheltered in the basement before coming out.
  2. JC Refuge

    JC Refuge

    Oct 8, 2007
    OK, Bilbo--some details here that it would be good to know ... How big is the city you live near? Where is the city in relation to the prevailing wind direction?

    We'll keep this discussion at a basic layman's level since the point of this is to not complicate possible general understanding and primary solution-finding. So too, we know from experience that it is beneficial not to deter positive preparedness in this area due to presenting overwhelming or intimidating amounts of detail that certainly often become the norm in discussions about nuclear fallout survival.

    1. If you are downwind of the city at the time of the nuclear blast, you may very well have the time to move away from the expected path of the fallout. The thing is, wind direction at ground level may not be at all representative of what is going on higher up in the atmosphere. So you need to figure out ahead of time if it makes sense for you, generally, to consider moving away in a perpendicular direction from the line the fallout will likely take. Of course, you need to accurately read the winds or listen to local media reports at the time of the event to make a genuinely educated decision about that.

    2. Assuming you do not move away from the fallout, you may in fact be in a zone where you take a lot of fallout--possibly a lethal amount if you do not take protective action, 30 miles away from a detonation. Again--that is if you are downwind. Also, it matters a lot if the blast is detonated at ground level or if it is an airburst. A blast at or near ground level is going to throw up far more radioactive particles into the atmosphere and create more fallout.

    If you are not downwind, you may have very little to worry about. Unless of course we are talking about a whole lot of nuclear detonations and there is the likelihood of fallout coming down from other areas upwind and at some distance away.

    There are a lot of "ifs" involved. This is why radios (of whatever bandwidth) are going to be important to have in order to get local reports of the fallout conditions. However, possible EMP damage to your electronics and/or to the local infrastructure may negate that capability.

    So even more important might be having some type of radiation detector of your own on hand. There are many types available out there today, from crude DIY models to pocket-sized ones to older cold-war era surplus counters, to some pretty expensive and sophisticated modern gear. I know that simple devices should be impervious to the effects of EMP.

    Having a method to measure or detect radiation wherever you are will help you determine how shielded you are in whatever expedient shelter you put together. And of course it will also help you determine when it's safe to move out of your shelter for short periods and then eventually for longer periods or to fully evacuate the area.

    3. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to shelter, then yes, you have to put as much mass as possible between yourself and the fallout. Consider that the standard shielding mass is equivalent to 3 feet of packed earth. Or two feet of concrete. Or 4" of lead. Obviously, that is a lot of mass. That is what is required to reduce gamma ray intensity by an acceptable amount to survive while the radiation dissipates with time. Now again, this assumes you are in an area where the fallout that comes down is indeed significant.

    Significant or not, it IS important to close off your living or shelter space from the elements or unfiltered air sources that may allow radioactive particles to enter. You need to be sure you do not ingest those particles in your food or water. And you need to be sure you have removed any potentially affected clothing and washed your self clean if you have been exposed to fallout. And of course, you need to dispose of the clothing or contaminated wash water, etc.

    Generally, we can plan on a two week period, give or take, being a probable length of time for most areas covered in fallout. There are exceptions to that--based on the exact type of fissile material involved as well as how close you are to ground zero. Sites at or very near to the blast itself may remain unhabitable for far longer than two weeks. But then, you are very probably not going to be alive anyway to be worrying about fallout, as the blast will have left only memories of you.

    This recent SPIKE TV program is interesting. It deals with how you can maximize your chances of surviving a nuclear detonation, even at a relatively close distance (compared to your 30 mile buffer zone). You might get some ideas from it, at the very least.

    Bottom line, B.B., my recommendation for you is this--if you are concerned about something like this--consider taking positive steps ahead of time to ready a more effective shelter. At the very least, having some sandbags on hand or maybe doing some concrete block work in your basement in that corner you mention might be a nice way to improve your situation and your peace of mind.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010

  3. Bilbo Bagins

    Bilbo Bagins Slacked jawed

    Sep 16, 2008
    Awesome answers.

    The good news is the prevailing winds blow away from my home, so I'm lucky there.

    You answered some nagging questions that have been bothering me, and gave me a better plan to work with to protect my family. Thanks.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010