Preparing to survive if the world turns to crap.
*Edit December 11, 2012 - a couple of helfpful and knowlegable folks over at reddit.com added some useful information pointing to NOT taking the iodine pills as mentioned below. Info and credit attached at bottom.
Nuclear war has been a clear and present danger ever since the atom bomb was invented. Once more than one country got the bomb, the only reason they didn't use it was because they feared retaliation. It was a concept called Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D) and still applies today. It applied even more though, during the cold war with Russia. My parents told me about the drills they used to have. Ok kids, the bomb is coming, you know what to do!
All kidding aside, nuclear attack is clearly one of the things you should prep for. Especially if you live near a city where such an attack is likely. You should also prepare for a nuclear plant meltdown, which is also likely if you live near a nuclear plant. I'll get to each scenario because they both mean different things. I'm no expert. I got my information from going to several survivalist forums and then doing some checking on wikipedia. In case you read the following and decide to go to Japan and roll around in the remains of Fukashima then you get thyroid cancer because you misread something here, don't sue me ok? Ok.
Now, if you live near a nuclear power plant, nuclear power plants are only safe if they have their cooling systems enabled. They require electricity. If the electricity grid goes belly up and it looks like it'll stay that way for a long while (say really bad solar storms like the ones that may hit us 2012/2013), get out. If it's already gone belly up, take your anti rad pills (to be described below) and get out. Nuclear plants will continuously irradiate an area for a long, LONG time due to the amount of radioactive material they house. Nuclear bombs actually clear up pretty quickly. This is why Hiroshima is today a thriving city and Chernobyl is still a wasteland.
Believe it or not, nuclear attacks are a lot less dangerous than a nuclear plant blowing up. The reason is that most bombs go off in the air, called an 'airburst'. This maximises the destructive area of the bomb, but allows for any radioactive bits to decay rapidly. Or something to that effect. I'm no scientist, just going off what I read. If you live inside of a big urban area that's likely to get attacked, you are boned. If you are just outside of that area, you're boned too. But if you live close enough to see the blast but far enough away that you don't get radiation burns directly, you might be good. And here's the one rule you have to remember. That rule is:
The Seven to Ten Rule!
So what is the seven to ten rule? Basically it is a count of unit of time to degradation. So for every seven units of time, there is a tenfold reduction in the amount of radiation outside.
Let me give you an example. Let's say that you are in an area that has 1000 rads per hour of radiation right after the blast, which is a rather high dose and immediately lethal should you step outside, then:
This is a way of guesstimating how much time you'll need to live in your sealed and bone dry basement (do NOT gather rain water as this is where most of the radiation is coming from). You'll notice that this is not linear, but a logarithmic degradation of radiation. This has to do with half lives of radioactive material.
So basically, if you survived the initial blast from where you were, and a few minutes after that your skin isn't falling off your body, congrats,you do it right you should be able to wait out the radiation. From the above worst case, if you have enough food and water in your basement for 3 months, you are absolutely golden. Keep in mind that it may be less because the radiation may be a lot less from where you are.
Now, radiation pills. They do exist, and they are called potassium iodide, otherwise known as thyroid blockers. These are currently given to cancer patients to block the thyroid from radiation when undergoing treatments. Why the thyroid I don't know, i'm not a doctor. I just know that this is what you need to keep safe. So purchased some Iosat anti radiation pills for pretty darn cheap:
Basically they say take one tablet every 24 hours to block the radiation. They say not to take it for any more than 10 days. Upon suriving a nuclear blast, I'd say take one for a few days, as long as it takes you to get hunkered down in your basement with as much food and clothing and fuel and everything else as you can. Then only take them after a while if you need to go outside to scavenge for something. Side effects include stomach issues, skin rash, swelling of the saliva glands.
So, now you know. Get away from nuke plants. hunker down in your basement for a few months upon a nuclear attack near you. Try not to be in big cities (a good idea for more than just a nuclear threat).
Good luck and try not to get irradiated!
Edit December 11, 2012 as mentioned above.
Reddit.com user mantra says the following about the iodide tabs:
And iodide is ONLY to prevent I-131 absorption by the thyroid. It does nothing for Cs-137 or Sr-90 or other more common fallout nuclides that are just as dangerous. Sr-90 mimics calcium so it gets into your bones and increases the chances of bone cancer (instead of thyroid cancer) while Cs-137 mimics potassium and sodium which is everywhere in your body.
Reddit.com user PandaK00sh adds:
PSA: DO NOT TAKE POTASSIUM IODINE! This is terrible misinformation! Unless you are under 10 years of age, or over 60 years of age, all potassium iodine will do is make you violently ill. Again, DO NOT TAKE POTASSIUM IODINE.
Radiation is effected by density. Surround yourself with dense objects to mitigate risks of radiation exposure. CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) masks and suits are relatively easy to find for purchase and can be found at affordable prices.
and goes on to include some really good resources:
Here's a neat simulator if you're curious about blast radius.
Here's one of many fallout projections.
Thanks for the good info guys! If anyone reading this is a Redditor, go to their profiles and give them some karma love.