600px-United_States_Civil_Defense_Roundel.svgBe Prepared for a Nuclear Disaster

Civil Defense is the organized non-military effort to prepare Americans for nuclear military attack. Over the past twenty years the term and training has been replaced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. Established in 1979 and absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003,1   the focus has shifted to protection against terrorism to create a safer, more secure America. This federal government organization provides the coordinated federal response in the event of a terrorist attack. According to their website, they are tasked with coordinating a response to any large natural disaster or other emergency event to  facilitate a swift and effective recovery effort.2 Examples of their work include restoration along the East and Gulf Coast following hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Their biggest strengths lie in an ability to unify the effort, find the needed assets to solve a problem and eventually get the work done.DHS.gov

A big question remains. What if someone slips through the layers of surveillance and security and launches a “nuclear attack”?  What do we do?

What Happens in a Nuclear Disaster?

There are six types of nuclear disasters: dirty bombs, nuclear plant meltdowns, fallout from another country’s atomic bomb explosion, a singular nuclear strike in the US, a suitcase nuke, and all out war. There are three parts to nuclear explosions: the explosion with its initial bright flash of light and heat as mega tons of energy are released accompanied in a few seconds by a debris-filled pressure wave followed by alpha, beta and gamma radiation or chemical dust also know as fallout.  If you see a bright flash, don’t run to the window to see what’s coming next. It will be the shattering glass from the window you’re looking out.

Your first response should be duck and cover. Find the closest solid structure and duck down, covering your head with your arms. If there is no structure near, lay flat on the ground, face down. Stay down for at least 30 seconds.3 A blast wave and wind traveling at the speed of sound or about 5 seconds per mile will follow. A huge blast may cause temporary blindness resulting in disorientation. When you can, move to a protected place that is not damaged. Immediately cover your nose and mouth with an article of clothing to reduce the chance of breathing in smoke or radioactive dust.  Stay away from windows because the blast wave will blow out windows and some walls. Gamma rays travel so fast you can’t avoid them. Anyone within one thousand feet of a detonation will most likely be killed. If you survived, get inside. Once inside, remove your outer layer of clothing and shower and wash your hair as soon as possible. Discard all these items. This will remove up to 90% of contaminants. If you develop nausea and vomiting within 4 hours after the blast, chances are you have permanent damage. There are some medical processes that can help if you can get to a location offering them.

After the blast, the fallout is deadly.  Get as far inside a structure as possible and have as much material above you as possible to block the beta radiation. Dust contaminated with radiation will be everywhere. Below ground shelters are best if they are three feet below the surface. Dust will travel with the prevailing winds. The majority of contamination will have fallen in three days. When you are ready to evacuate, cover as much of you as possible. Use a mask, gloves and wear eye protection. Duct tape your sleeves and pant legs. Remove and discard this clothing before reentering a shelter. If you travel, go in a perpendicular direction to the wind flow. Begin to take iodine tablets immediately to prevent thyroid damage. The non-radioactive iodine saturates the thyroid gland so it can’t absorb radioactive iodine. If you don’t have tablets, apply betadine to the skin of your abdomen and arms for 3-5 days. Stored food and water will be critical. Make sure you have some.4


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_civil_defense

2 https://www.dhs.gov/building-resilient-nation


4 https://www.alertsusa.com/reports/goodnews.pdf


Additional Articles in the April 2014 Issue:

  • A reminder to review and rotate three types of items in your 72 hour emergency kit.
  • What are your plans to provide protein in your diet in an emergency situation? Here are some items to add to your supplies …
  • Are members of your family hearing impaired that might not hear a smoke alarm?
  • Our featured contributor this month is Tess Pennington of ReadyNutrition.com. She shares an article about Bio Mass Briquettes. Now you’ll have an environmentally friendly use for those shredded documents.
  • Sun Ovens are a perfect partner for bio mass briquettes, here’s how …
  • Some of our friends have complained that their yards were so shady that they doubted they could grow anything in a garden. In answer to their questions, here are some plants that can be grown in shade. Don’t give up on your yard either. Read more …
  • Speaking of gardening, do you use Epsom salts? Here’s why.
  • We can all be prepared to take the initiative to save a life, should we be faced with a life or death situation. Here are three critical first aid procedures that can be accomplished with one dressing.
  • Our Solar Chef has included a wonderful recipe for Solar Stuffed Shells. Give it a try, these are yummy.

 Billie Nicholson, Editor
April 2014


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