Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nuclear Threats and How to Prepare

     There are many different types of scenarios that we as preppers and survivalists can be prepared for. The world we live in today seems constantly dangerous, and ever on the brink of disaster.  One of the most terrifying of these is a nuclear disaster.  It may come in the most extreme form as nuclear war, but is more likely to happen through terrorist attacks or nuclear power station accidents.  It is these things that we really need to be prepared for.

     It was during World War II that the first nuclear weapons were developed by the United States, and Russia developed the technology soon after.  Today there are eight countries that are confirmed to have nuclear weapons.  This includes the United States and Russia, as well as the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea.  While not confirmed, it is widely believed that Israel also has nuclear weapons.  South Africa is the only other country in the world that has had nuclear weapons, but they disassembled their nuclear weapons in the 1990's.

     Besides these countries that we already know have nuclear weapons, there are a many countries that are considered to be in the process of developing nuclear weapons.  These include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.  Also to be considered are countries who do not have nuclear weapons and have not currently developed them, but have the ability to do so, and quickly.  The main country that falls under this category is Japan.

     So we all know about the nuclear possibilities around the world.  Whether it is countries that could have their weapons pointed at us, such as North Korea, or those that could be fighting with each other like India and Pakistan, they all are a potential risk.  When it comes to nuclear weapons, it is not just the initial blast to be worried about, but the radioactive fallout as well.  In fact if you are close enough to the blast it won't matter to you at all because you will be dead.  This means that what you really want to prepare for is what comes after a nuclear blast.

     However it is not just nuclear blasts that we need to prepare for.  This is because nuclear power has become a power source in dozens of countries around the world.  Do you know how close the nearest nuclear reactor is?  If that answer is no, you should figure it out.  Nuclear reactors are considered to be a fairly safe energy resource, but recently that safety rating has taken a blow after the Sendi earthquake in Japan.  It was that earthquake that resulted in the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Power Station.  Caused by overheating after the earthquake, three reactors melted down and then exploded releasing large amounts of radioactive material into the air.

     When there is a nuclear reactor incident, it is rated on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.  The scale is rated from a level zero to a level seven.

Level Zero: Deviation
A level zero is classified as a deviation and there is not significant safety concerns.  

Level One: Anomaly
A level one classification can cover a few different scenarios.  The first is that it can mean a low activity radioactive source or device has been lost or stolen.  The second is if there are minor problems with safety components, and the third is an overexposure of a member of the public in excess of statutory annual limits.

Level Two: Incident
A level two classification covers exposure of a member of the public in excess of 10 mSV, or the exposure of a worker in excess of the statutory limits.
It could also means that there is specific contamination in a facility into an area not excepted by design or radiation levels in an operating area reaching more than 50 m Sv/h.
Finally it can also cover significant failures in safety provisions.  A highly radioactive sealed source or device.  Or inadequate packaging of a highly radioactive sealed source.

Level Three: Serious Incident
A level three classification would include the exposure in excess of ten times the statutory annual limit for workers, or non lethal health effects from radiation.
It can include exposure rates of more than 1 Sv/h in an operating area, or severe contamination in an area not expected by design.
It can also include a near accident at a nuclear power plant with no safety provisions remaining.  A highly radioactive sealed source being stolen or lost.  Or a highly radioactive sealed source being misdelivered.

Level Four:  Accident with Local Consequences
A minor release of radioactive material unlikely to result in implementation of planned countermeasures other than local food controls.  At least one death from radiation.  Fuel melt or damage to fuel resulting in more than 0.1% release of core inventory.  Release of significant quantities of radioactive material within an installation with a high probability of significant public exposure.

Level Five:  Accident with Wider Consequences
Limited release of radioactive material likely to require implementation on some planned countermeasures.  Could also be from several deaths from radiation.
Can be a result of sever damage to reactor car or a release of large quantities of radioactive material within an installation with a high probability of significant public exposure.  This could arise from a major criticality accident or fire.

Level Five Examples:

-Three Mile Island - March 28, 1979.  A combination of design and operator errors caused a gradual loss of coolant, leading to a partial meltdown.  Radioactive gasses were released into the atmosphere.

-First Chalk River Accident - December 12, 1952 - Reactor core damaged.

-Windscale Fire - October 10, 1957.  Annealing of graphite moderator at a military air cooled reactor caused a fire, releasing radioactive pile material as dust into the environment.

-Lucens Partial Core Meltdown - January 21, 1969.  Test reactor in an underground cavern suffered a loss of coolant accident during start up.  Partial core meltdown occurred along with massive radioactive contamination of the cavern which was then sealed.

-Golania Accident - September 13, 1987.  An unsecured cesium chloride radiation source left in an abandoned hospital was recovered by scavenger thieves, and sold to a scrapyard.  249 contaminated and 4 dead.

Level Six:  Serious Accident
There is a significant release of radioactive material likely to require implementation of planned countermeasures.

There has been one Level Six event to date:

-Kyshtym Disaster at Mayak - September 29, 2057.  A failed cooling system caused a steam explosion that released 70-80 tons of highly radioactive material into the environment.  Impact on the local population is not fully known.

Level Seven:  Major Accident
A major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.
There have been two Level 7 Nuclear Accidents to date:

-Chernobyl Disaster - April 26, 1986.  A steam explosion and fire resulted in the release of a significant fraction of core material into the environment.  58 dead.  Estimated 4,000 additional cancer fatalities.  Cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat abandoned.  A permanent 30km exclusion zone around the react was establish.

- Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster - Beginning March 11, 2011.  Rated Level 7 on April 11, 2011.  Six reactors involved in the incident.  Three were rated at Level 5, one was rated a Level 3 and the situation as a whole was rated a Level 7.  A temporary exclusion zone of 20 km was established around the plant.

     Radioactive fallout is known as Black Rain for a reason.  It contains radioactive particles from a nuclear weapon or a nuclear meltdown.  In the event of some kind of nuclear disaster this is what we want to prepare for.  So what kind of supplies should you have along with all your other disaster preps?  

     Actually not too many.  For a nuclear disaster prepping is pretty easy.  The first and most essential item you would want to have is potassium iodate.  You can buy them in bottles similar in size to over the counter medications and painkillers.  Now they may be a little expensive at somewhere around twenty dollars a bottle give or take.  However if you need them, you have them, and it's not like you need more than a bottle or two with your supplies.  Your biggest problem with these will be finding where to buy them, because your not likely to find them at your local super market or convenience store.  The easiest way is simply to find them online.

     After potassium iodate, the next thing you might want to consider is a radiation detector.  Perhaps not the most necessary item, but potentially useful in a situation like this.  These however can be fairly expensive, and unless you are going to be traversing a nuclear wasteland, I wouldn't put it high on the list of items to have.  Another thing to consider however would be a simple dust mask.  During a nuclear incident, radiation can be present in the air in dust, and having a dust mask can help prevent breathing it in.

     So what else should you have prepared for a nuclear disaster?  Well, there are your obvious preps such as food and water that you'll want for any disaster.  However there is one thing to consider for a nuclear disaster and that is shelter.  You may want to have some form of fallout shelter ready.  This may be in your home, and there are many resources on how to build them in your home, but it could also be a nearby shelter as well.  During the cold war there were many nuclear fallout shelters built.  While most of these places won't be public knowledge anymore, spending a little time looking for them will like produce at least a few results somewhere in your nearby area.

     Now there is another type of shelter that some people might want to look into, and this is a blast shelter.  The difference between a fallout shelter and a blast shelter is simply a matter of how deep in the ground it is.  For people who live close to a potential target, a blast shelter could be a good idea.  This is because when a nuclear bomb goes off, there are significant thermal effects with the blast.  To be protected from these you would need a blast shelter with good shielding to help protect from the radioactive fallout that follows.

     The final possibility to a nuclear incident is having a bug out location ready to go.  In the event that you don't have a place to wait out the worst of the nuclear disaster, or if you are mandatorily evacuated from the area, you are going to need a place to go.  This is when a bug out location can really come in handy.  It should be located far enough away that it would be out of at least the worst effects of the fallout.

     The most important part of any shelters that you may want to have, is to make sure that they have their own separate sets of supplies, and to make sure those supplies are rotated to keep them fresh.  This  may mean interspersing with other survival caches or even your kitchen pantry.  However in the event of a nuclear disaster, you don't want to have to move all your survival supplies into your bunker after it happens.  You want to be able to get in as quickly as possible.

     So, do you know where fallout would occur in your state or across the country in the event of a nuclear attack?  Take a look here:  It is a great site, and it certainly is an eye opener.  It also has a map of nuclear reactors in earthquake zones, which is helpful information to know.  Also to find out where there are operating nuclear reactors in your area, take a look at this interactive map here:  For a list of nuclear power plants world wide, take a look here:

     Hope the resources help.  Do you have any suggestions for preps for nuclear disasters?  Let us know in the comments!  We love to here from you all.


Also for those who would like some interesting facts:


  1. I loke your blog. If I can help please let me know.

    1. Glad you like it! Any help is always welcome. I'm always looking for feedback on things I can do better, and more information on anything regarding survival. I love you show over on Preppers Podcast Radio too! Lots of great information!