When was the last time you talked about surviving nuclear explosion?
Surviving nuclear explosion is probably not a daily topic of conversation at your home. In fact, most people would like to pretend that it could never happen to them.
I don’t like to think about it, either. But it’s something that needs to be discussed as you are doing your prepping. There are real threats of a nuclear attack from North Korea and Iran, plus it’s not that difficult for terrorists to put together a dirty bomb to detonate on our own soil.
Make sure that you and your family understand what happens during a nuclear explosion and what to do. And even scary knowledge is power you can use to calm your fears.
Growing Up in the Nuclear Age
I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. My childhood was wonderful. Our family home was in a safe suburb. My mom and most of the other mothers in the neighborhood were homemakers. I walked a few blocks to elementary school. I was allowed to run and ride my bike all over the neighborhood, as long as I was home for supper.
There were some things weren’t so rosy, though. Khrushchev was banging his shoe on the table and threatening to bury us. The spectre of nuclear war hung over us. Teachers had us practice getting under our desks (fat lot of good that would have done). The powers that be organized a practice drill where all the school children were to be driven up into the mountains. (That ended in a huge traffic jam that didn’t go anywhere.)
I still remember my parent’s faces while they watched the television during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I didn’t quite understand what was going on, but I knew they were worried. (Well, gee, they had already lived through World War II and the Korean War.)
My friend had a cool nuclear fallout shelter. She let us see it, but we couldn’t tell anyone about it. I kinda envy the people that own that house now.
Back then, it was two super powers clutched in a power dance. Now it’s crazy dictators trying to get long-range nuclear capability and fanatical Muslims blowing themselves up in crowded places. If you are not at least a little concerned and wondering what your chances are of surviving a nuclear explosion, you’re wearing rose-colored glasses.
What is a Nuclear Explosion?
A nuclear explosion occurs when vast quantities of heat, light and energy are released by a device or bomb that contains the capability to initiate nuclear reactions continuously and at a speedy rate.
As you may already know, a handful of countries (including the United States) have weaponized nuclear technology as a deterrent for any hostile actions from potential enemy states.
Weaponized nuclear technology has been around since World War II. Historically, nuclear bombs have only been detonated twice for specific war purposes, both times by the U.S. military.
Today’s blog post will explore the various events that take place immediately after a nuclear explosion.
There are many kinds of nuclear explosions; some are peaceful while others are obviously initiated to cause mass damage. Surviving a nuclear explosion requires your first familiarizing yourself with the nature and extent of damage that this type of explosion can cause.
What Can You Expect During a Sudden Nuclear Explosion?
The exact magnitude of the damage that a nuclear explosion can cause can be calculated by the type of weapon or bomb used to create the explosion.
For example, a 5-megaton nuclear bomb would have the capacity to decimate a large metropolis with millions of residents.
Hostile organizations and states, unfortunately, have access to a wide variety of weaponized nuclear technologies.
It’s impossible to predict the exact damage caused after a nuclear explosion. Therefore we must familiarize ourselves with how this type of explosion can harm human life and destroy property.
No. 1, Cover Your Eyes
If you can see the site of an actual nuclear explosion, you can go temporarily blind. Shielding the eyes is a must as our eyes are not designed to handle the extreme light emitted by nuclear particles. Light emitted during a nuclear explosion can last up to fifteen seconds after the initial explosion.
Beware of Fires
A nuclear explosion doesn’t just generate an extreme amount of light. Where there’s light, there’s also heat. Heat from nuclear fission or nuclear fusion can set man-made structures on fire from a staggering distance of 20 miles. So if your home is only 5 or 10 miles away from a blast, be ready for sudden blazes in your home and in the surrounding areas.
Shield Your Skin
Human skin is extremely fragile and its fragility can be seen most clearly during a nuclear explosion. A person who is standing only 15 miles from a blast can suffer from terrible, disfiguring burns similar to being in the direct line of an open flamethrower.
Extend the distance to 18 miles (just 3 miles more) and an exposed person in an open environment will still experiencing severe blistering. If the victim is approaching a blast area, he will begin to experience “nuclear burn” (a skin condition similar to sunburn) up to 23 miles away.
The Heat Wave
The heat generated by a nuclear blast is delayed, much like the sound of thunder after a lightning strike. It may take several seconds before you can feel the heat wave descending upon your area. The farther away you are from a nuclear blast, the longer the heat’s delay.
If you happen to be far away from the site of a nuclear blast (20+ miles away), you have approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute to take cover from the heat blast, which can cause severe burns. Take cover as soon as possible!
Expect Structural Damage
Major structural damage can occur immediately after a nuclear blast. If the distance of the physical structure is 3 to 5 miles from the blast area, complete destruction will occur.Roofs, ceilings, walls and all inner frameworks of homes and buildings will collapse or burn.
All life within these structures is extremely likely to be gone along with the structure itself. All homes standing within a 7 to 15 miles radius of a blast site will still be exposed to the nuclear shockwave and tremendous amounts of heat; such structures will require major rebuilding and repair and will likely be irradiated and unsafe for human habitation.
The figures mentioned above apply only to a smaller 5-megaton nuclear bomb. Should a 20-megaton nuclear device detonate, the severe damage radius will increase by roughly 20%.
This estimate does not take into account the presence of natural formations such as valleys and mountains.
If a mountain stands between your home and a nuclear blast area and you are 30 miles from it, it’s possible that your home will only suffer from relatively light damage. However, the risk of irradiation remains high.
To get an idea of what happens during an atomic blast, here is a film made by the Federal Civil Defense Administration in the 1950s following nuclear testing. (I remember seeing this film in school). It’s about 15 minutes long, and gives a lot of insight on nuclear weapons.
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Very scary stuff, but knowledge is power. In my next post, I’ll talk about nuclear fallout and how to protect yourself.
Don’t be scared … be prepared,