Just last week North Korea threatened to launch a “super mighty pre-emptive strike” to reduce the United States to “ashes.” It may not quite be time to panic, as U.S. weapons experts doubt North Korea have the capability to launch a nuclear missile to the United States. However, if worries over a North Korean nuclear attack aren’t enough to keep you awake at night, government officials are at least as concerned about terrorists or other “non-state actors” unleashing some sort of strike. Officials believe this type of attack would likely be done at ground level by detonating the bomb on a ship or truck. It all might make you wonder what you could do in the case of a nuclear attack…
While it all seems like a throwback to the darkest days of the cold war, experts believe that a “limited” nuclear attack may be survivable – provided you do the right things!
The first thing that experts suggest is:
The idea is to avoid the radiation that would follow a nuclear blast.
This seems to make sense – but why not get in your car and go as far away from the blast area as possible?
Experts believe that it would be somewhere between difficult and impossible for people to get clear as the freeways would become blocked. Instead, it is apparently best to just find cover – with a car being better than nothing, but a building being better still – particularly if there is a basement you can go to.
FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security advise:
Experts say you should aim to stay inside for at least 24 hours, unless the authorities tell you to come out sooner.
Perhaps toughest of all is the advice not to try and reunite with family but to just stay put. This may mean that you would need to leave your kids in school or daycare, which is safer than trying to drive and collect them through the radiation.
(Well, if you are going to have to stay in the basement – without the kids – for 24 hours!)
But how bad would a nuclear attack be?
The largest nuclear blasts would create a fireball a mile wide with temperatures as hot as the surface of the sun – so we guess you’re in trouble if that lands where you live! This blast will then be followed by winds stronger than those of a hurricane. Radioactive fallout would then be blown for miles by both the jet stream and surface winds. It all sounds pretty bad – especially if you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle – the cities most often mentioned as possible targets of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from North Korea!
While you may believe that a nuclear attack would spell the end of the world as we know it, Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness asserts:
In fact, a study in 2010 showed that an attack near Universal Studios in Hollywood reckoned that of the 285,000 who could die or get radiation sickness, 240,000 of them would survive if they got to basements or shelters.
Of course, this advice is only any use in the case of a ‘limited’ attack – if things go really wrong and some sort of massive all-out strike is called down then things will be much worse.
Russia, for example, this week claimed that if a large-scale nuclear war was to break out, the United Kingdom (and many other places around the world) would be wiped off the face of the earth almost immediately. In which case, chances are, many of us won’t have time to worry about anything much anyway!
So there it is, get inside and stay there for at least 24 hours.
Unless of course, you are right in the epicenter, in which case you’re in real bother – although at least you won’t get much of a chance to get stressed about it!