How to Prepare for and Survive a Nuclear Fallout

A nuclear blast is any massive explosion from a nuclear device or weapon that results in intense heat and blinding light, followed by prevalent radioactivity across the ground, water, and air for miles.

Such a blast will destroy anything and everything within its vicinity. Radiation will leave the surrounding areas uninhabitable for years to come.

Since the Cold War ended, fears of a nuclear war ever happening in the United States have diminished. Instead, threats such as an EMP attack or an economic collapse seem to be higher concerns among preppers in general.

But while we may want to believe that the threat of a nuclear attack happening is over, the reality is we can never be too certain, especially with countries such as Iran and North Korea and their constant threats.

In fact, it’s possible that the threat of a nuclear attack is greater than we think.

Besides, a nuclear attack is not the only way a blast could occur. A majority of states (32 to be exact), have a nuclear power plant in them, and the remaining 18 states are just across the border.

Examples of cities that are in the proximity of nuclear power plants include San Onofre in California, Columbia in Washington, Miami in Florida, Chicago in Illinois, and Boston in Massachusetts.

Considering that a nuclear attack is possible in every corner of the United States, this means that the entire country is vulnerable to a nuclear fallout.

In this article, we will go over the steps you need to take to survive a nuclear blast, and then talk about how you can prepare for the resulting fallout that will arguably be even more devastating than the blast itself.

Chernobyl ferris wheel
Chernobyl’s famous abandoned Ferris wheel

Nuclear Accidents in History

“Fortunately”, we can learn from past such events. Probably the worst nuclear disaster is the one that happened at Chernobyl in 1986.

After the initial explosion, the reactors released radiation into the region (and much of Europe) for 9 days straight, until they were finally able to stop it.

Although only firefighters and plant workers died during the initial blast and immediately in the aftermath, the number of people who got sick is much larger. There isn’t a consensus regarding this, but everyone pretty much agrees that the initial meltdown killed around 30 people.

The other major nuclear disaster was the one that happened at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan in 2011.

The thing that sets this one apart from Chernobyl is that large amounts of contaminated water were released into the ocean, affecting marine wildlife.

The Health Effects of Nuclear Radiation

The health hazards one may be subjected to in the aftermath of a nuclear blast is scary to say the least:

  • radiation poisoning (a.k.a. acute radiation syndrome) with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
  • thyroid cancer
  • accumulation in the human organs of some of the isotopes such as caesium

Building a Fallout Shelter

Invest your time and money into building a nuclear blast/fallout shelter that serves two purposes: resisting the initial blast pressure and heat, and then protection from the contamination and radiation that results from the fallout.

While it’s possible to build a blast and a fallout shelter separately, as they serve two different purposes, it’s better in most circumstances for convenience as well as to save time and money to combine the two into one.

Your shelter needs to be able to withstand both the blast and the radiation.

Since not even the strongest shelter will be able to protect you from a nuclear blast in its immediate vicinity, you need to keep a safe distance from any major city or a nuclear power plant if at all possible.

Your two main material options for building your shelter are concrete or steel. If you choose concrete, you should have at least two and a half feet of it on all sides, or at least one foot if you opt to use steel.

Anything less and your shelter may not be able to defend your family properly against the blast and the radiation.

Radiation from the fallout will be the most dangerous for weeks following the blast, but this will decrease as time passes by, giving you the opportunity to escape/bug out at some point.

It also becomes less powerful the more layers it passes through. For this reason, having a thick fallout shelter can help to protect you from the radiation. The thicker the walls the better.

There are several things that you will want to make sure your nuclear shelter has, including:

  • It should be located near or at your home, so you can get to it quickly.
  • It’s best not to have any windows in the shelter, as radiation can easily seep through glass. Furthermore, the intense heat emitted from the blast could melt through the windows as well.
  • In addition to the steel or concrete for the outside walls, you’ll also want to insulate it for extra protection from the radiation. Sand or dirt will be your two best options for proper insulation.
  • Reinforce the door as much as possible so it can withstand heat and radiation. Use extra insulation such as sandbags or dirt is highly recommend.
  • Set up a bathroom complete with a toilet (even if it’s just a bucket if your budget is small) in a separate room within the shelter.
  • Plan on spending a minimum of two weeks inside your fallout shelter following the blast, so stockpile accordingly. Who knows, you might even be stuck there for months on end, depending on how things unfold.


Building your fallout shelter is only the first part. The second part is stockpiling so you can live inside for weeks or even months. A good rule of thumb is to stockpile a minimum of two weeks of  food and water.

Here are some tips to follow…

Stockpile a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day, preferably more (a half gallon for drinking and a half gallon for cleaning and personal hygiene). Store all water in airtight and clean water drums or containers.

Stockpile enough food to last your family for fourteen days. If you have any perishable or frozen foods, eat them first before they thaw or go bad.

The vast majority of your survival food should be food with a long shelf-life, such as white rice, beans, salt, sugar, honey, or Ramen noodles (with water).

In addition to the food itself, you’ll also need kitchen equipment such as plates, bowls, silverware, can openers, and napkins,.

Have communication equipment as well. Staying informed or learning about the whereabouts of those you know will be critical to you.

Invest in a NOAA weather radio, which will alert you to emergency information from the authorities all day. Have plenty of spare batteries on hand.

Other communication devices to have on hand would be a CB radio, walkie-talkies, a whistle, and your cell phone (while it’s likely there won’t be cell service, have one on hand anyway).

Have extra thick clothes for everyone to fully protect your body from the radiation. This includes coats and jackets, hats, goggles, gloves, warm pants, socks, and boots.

Investing in gas masks and hazmat suits for all family members is a wise move. If you venture outside or if you decide it’s more or less safe to evacuate, all parts of your skin must be completely covered.

Should any of your skin become exposed to radiation, wash it with clean water, and cover it up immediately.

Keep some potassium iodide as well. Potassium iodide can block any radioactive iodine from being absorbed by your skin.

Have plenty of personal hygiene and cleaning products on hand. Know where you will dispose of waste and have disinfectants and cleaning agents. To save space and resources, consider merging your food waste and human waste in the same room/garbage.

Make sure everybody has a place to lay their head on. A folding cot with a sleeping bag and pillow won’t take up much space and is easy to set up.

Have firearms, ammunition, and other weapons to defend yourself from others if need be. Be trained in the use of each of them and have your sidearm holstered on you at all times.

Have a bug out vehicle on standby so you can evacuate if you feel it’s the wiser option. You may even be able to evacuate before the nuclear blast hits if you are updated on what’s happening.

Your bug out vehicle should have all-wheel drive, it shoul be reliable, and have enough space to carry each member of your family and your supplies.

Surviving a Nuclear Blast

Obviously, if the blast goes off directly over you or in your general vicinity, your chances of survival are literally zero.

The heat from the blast will be capable of burning the skin from your flesh at a distance of 20 miles or more. For this reason, you need to put as much distance between yourself and the blast as possible.

A nuclear blast will likely come out of nowhere. Keep yourself up to date on world events (such as poor political relations with other nations or all out war), in addition to regularly tuning into emergency alerts from the authorities.

What does The Government Say We Should Do?

The advice is pretty basic, yet all so important:

  1. The first things you should do is get inside to put as many barriers between you and the blast as possible.
  2. The second thing is to remove all your clothes.
  3. And the third thing is to run to your fallout shelter.

Even some time after the blast, radiation will still be at dangerous levels, so stay tuned to find out the latest developments, and know if and when it is time to evacuate.

Should You Evacuate?

Yes, even if you’ve bugged into your shelter, in the long run, a permanent evacuation is the only option. You’ll want to find a new place to live, and you’ll want to get to it as soon as possible.

However, picking the exact time to leave your home is going to be critical to whether or not you will survive, or increase the odds of getting some nasty disease.

As you evacuate, use all the clothing and blankets you have to keep your skin fully covered from the radiation. If you have glasses or goggles, wear them to protect your eyes.

This will help you at least suspect if there is a chance a nuclear blast could occur.

Obviously, large cities will be the major targets of a nuclear attack, so in the event of deteriorating relations with other countries or all out war, it may be wise to keep yourself and your family away from them.

The same goes for nuclear power plants since you can never be too sure that an accident won’t happen.

Even if you have put plenty of distance between yourself and the blast, you still need to seek shelter as quickly as possible. As mentioned earlier, the heat can burn your skin up to twenty miles away.

Also, high wind speeds (over six hundred miles per hour) can easily carry you off your feet or cause flying debris to smash into you.

The best shelter to find in this scenario will be anywhere indoors. While it’s still possible for you to suffer burns, the building will still offer more protection than being outside.

Look for a ditch or bridge as a hiding place if you are unable to get indoors for any reason. If no bridge or ditch is near, dig into the ground as quickly as you can and cover yourself up with the dirt.

Hopefully, you’ll be near your blast/fallout shelter when the blast goes off, and your chances of survival will be greater. Should you be away from that shelter, however, the above tips could save your life.


Surviving a nuclear blast and fallout will be difficult but not impossible. As long as you put enough distance between you and the blast and seek shelter, your chances of survival increase dramatically.

Even when fears of a nuclear attack have waned, you can never be too careful. It’s not crazy to invest in building an appropriate shelter if a nuclear fallout is what keeps you up at night, because that shelter may act as a safe room protect you from other disasters and emergencies including:

  • tornadoes
  • burglars
  • personal assaults
  • …and more

Even if something else happens, such as a terrorist attack or social unrest and rioting, the shelter and preps will still come in handy.

As a final word of advice, if a nuclear blast ever happens, you must always be prepared for the possibility of more occurring. Good luck because you’ll need it…

updated 03/10/2020 by Dan F. Sullivan

1 thought on “How to Prepare for and Survive a Nuclear Fallout”

  1. Avatar

    Ever heard of an American band, called THE GRATEFUL DEAD? Then you know where this comes from!
    It will not be a nuclear attack on the United States- it will be a reprisal for first use. (This program- this strategy, is called MAD it stands for Mutually Assured Destruction, ) And anybody who thinks they will survive that- has rocks in their head! (The half- life of Plutonium 239 is 24,500 YEARS!) And anybody who is prepared to take that chance- is PSYCHOPATHIC. So I am not going to appeal to your conscience, because you have none!
    Death does not matter to a psychopath does not matter, but spending the rest of your life in a cage at the zoo, might? You get a roof to keep the rain and snow off- but no walls. You get one bucket for slops for food- another to crap in. And if you misbehave, you get one bucket for both. We will keep you alive- but no concern abouth your health.
    Is that what you want?
    Am so sick of listening to shit for brains!

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