Following the ending of the Cold War in the last decade of the 1980’s, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. But, has the threat of a nuclear attack ended?

Whilst it is unlikely that a nation state will start a nuclear war, there is a growing concern that terrorists and other criminal gangs might detonate a ” dirty bomb”. 

This type of device is a combination of radioactive material and conventional explosives such as ammonium nitrate-fuel oil mixture ( ANFO), picric acid or trinitrotoluene ( TNT). Placed in a briefcase and remotely detonated by a mobile phone, such a bomb would cause extensive damage and spread radioactive material over large distances. Chechnya has been implicated twice of attempting to use such a bomb containing radioactive caesium- 137. More attempts, and not necessarily by Chechen rebels, are likely to occur over the next decade.

In order to survive a nuclear or radiation attack, consider how a nuclear bomb works. After the detonation, there is a blinding flash. This is accompanied by a super heated thermal heat wave. After this, there is a blast wave and electromagnetic pulse ( EMP) which will destroy most infrastructure and  communications in the vicinity.

But, the most destructive element of all is the alpha, beta and gamma radiation emitted by the blast. This fallout, especially the gamma rays, can be life threatening.

6 steps to protect yourself from a nuclear blast.

  1. Shelter behind or under a  barrier of solid materials.Make this barrier from steel more than 12 cm thick or  earth at least a metre thick.
  2. Lie on the ground with legs crossed and mouth open. Face away from the blast.
  3. Decide if you want to outrun the radioactive fallout or shelter in place. If the former, be fit because there will not be any transport available. If the latter, have a quantity of medical countermeasures available such as Radiogardase ( aka Prussian blue) or potassium iodine.
  4. Run to safety  in a direction perpendicular to the direction of the wind.
  5. 5.If you seek shelter indoors, create an L- shaped entrance. Gamma rays cannot turn around corners.
  6. Dispose of contaminated clothing and wash yourself thoroughly with salted or soapy water. Alternatively, use unaffected soil by sprinkling it on your body and sweeping it off.

H.E.A.T. tip: Any fresh food, even if wrapped in plastic, will be contaminated. Only eat canned food.

For more information on how to survive a nuclear, biological or chemical ( NBC) attack by terrorists, attend one of our courses.