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 devastate anything and everything within its general vicinity. The radiation will leave the surrounding area unsafe to live in for months if not longer.

Since the Cold War ended over two decades ago, fears of a nuclear war ever happening in the United States have greatly diminished. Instead, threats such as an EMP attack or an economic collapse seem to be higher concerns among survivalists 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. 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 specific 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.

Practically the whole country is vulnerable to a nuclear blast going off from an accident in any one of these power plants. The resulting fallout from the contamination will change life in the United States as we know it.

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.

After the blast, the fallout will still be dangerous, so you will want to make it back to your home to either take shelter or evacuate as soon as possible. Get in touch with all of your family members and have them rendezvous at your house. As you travel, use all the clothing or blankets you have to keep your skin fully covered from the radiation to prevent burns. If you have glasses or goggles, wear them as well to protect your eyes.


Taking shelter while the nuclear blast is occurring is critical if you want to have any chance of survival. 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.

We’ll talk about how you can build a shelter later, but for now, let’s focus on what you can do to survive a nuclear blast if you are away from one.

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. So what can you do to ensure a blast does not go off in your vicinity?  There are two things: 1. Listening to the news and alerts, and 2. Luck.

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


The blast is only the first part of the danger of a nuclear attack or accident. The fallout of contamination and radiation is going to make your area unsafe to live in for weeks at least, meaning that you must have a prepared and well-stocked blast/fallout shelter for you and your family to survive in.

Your shelter needs to be able to resist both the blast and the radiation. Since no shelter (not even the strongest) will be able to resist a nuclear blast within 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 very dangerous for weeks following the blast, but it 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 thinks that you will want to make sure your nuclear fallout shelter has, including:

  • It should be located near or at your home so you can get to it quickly.
  • It must be well-stocked with survival supplies (more on this later).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reinforce your door(s) as much as possible so it can also resist the heat and radiation. Use extra insulation such as sandbags or dirt is highly recommend.
  • Include a bathroom complete with a toilet (even if it’s only a bucket if your budget is small) in a separate room within the shelter. Even if you don’t have running water and have to use the water you have stockpiled, that’s better than nothing.
  • You should plan on spending a minimum of two weeks inside your fallout shelter following the blast, so stockpile accordingly.


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 (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. Also have a water filter and purification tablets on standby. Stockpiling up on bulk water bottle packs isn’t a bad idea either, as they are more convenient for drinking than drums.
  • 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, napkins, and so on.
  • Have communication supplies on standby 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. Also investing in gas masks for all members of the family is a wise move as well. If you venture outside, 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.
  • Have potassium iodide on hand 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 on standby. To save space and resources, consider merging your food waste and human waste in the same room/garbage.
  • Have bedding materials for each person. 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 on standby for armed self-defense if needed. 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 AWD, reliable, and have enough space to carry each member of your family and your supplies.


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. 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…

About Nick Oetken

Nick Oetken
Nick Oetken is a prepper, outdoor enthusiast but, most of all, he is our in-house firearms expert. Look out for his articles on guns to find out which ones you need for your survival.

One comment

  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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *