Surviving a Nuclear Attack

Tensions are quickly increasing between the United States and North Korea creating concern of nuclear attacks. Even if the threat was remote, it is worth knowing what to do so you're prepared. What can you do to prepare for and survive a nuclear strike? What should you do during a nuclear attack? How much time do you have between a missle launch from Korea before it strikes it's target in the US? What should you do if you're outside during the attack? What should you do after the blast? How long do you have to stay inside after a nuclear attack? These are all questions we should be asking ourselves so we can be prepared-- just in case. Having a plan for any kind of emergency is a good idea.

nuclear bomb cloud

Prepare essentials for a Nuclear Attack

You should absolutely prepare a family emergency plan and put together an emergency supply kit so you know what actions to take and you have the essentials ready. Your plan should include many scenarios for what to do, when and where to meet and what actions to take during any emergency. Find out if there is a fallout shelter in your local area which has a roof and walls thick enough to absorb the high radiation. All schools are built to meet regulatory building standards and are often used as emergency shelters. Check with your nearest school before an emergency and find out if it is a designated fallout shelter. The inside of a basement of a taller building or in a deeper basement typically has lower radiation. If you find a building with more than 12 stories, being on the center of the 10th floor also provides decent protection. Fallout shelters likely won't withstand a hit by a nuclear explosion so source alternate options. You can find lists of fallout shelters in your state on Your emergency kit should include:

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least days
  • First aid kit
  • Wind up flashlights or Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Dust masks
  • Non-perishable foods for at least three days
  • Can opener
  • Whistle
  • Local maps
  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Backup cellphone batteries
  • Blankets
  • Change of clothing
  • Garbage bags
  • Prescriptions
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Moist towelettes
  • Cash
  • Pet food

Dangers of a Nuclear Strike

The effects of radiation are usually more severe in older or younger people or those in poor health. In small doses, our bodies will typically repair themselves. The first symptoms often include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and feeling ill. Radiation sickness is not contagious. High doses of ionising radiation can lower your immune system, destroy your bone marrow stem cells, the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and hair root cells. Fallout is the material radiation binds to.

To Survive a Nuclear Strike

Any protection is better than none. Be sure to find shelter immediately for survival. The farther you are away from the area of impact, the better. There will be radioactive fallout debris will start coming down to the ground as dust and ash within about 10 minutes after the blast. You should get somewhere away from the blast zone that you can stay for at least a couple days and up to two weeks.

During a Nuclear Attack

In the weeks following your surgery, it is importatnt to keep moving if possible to help with your blood circulation and to prevent blood clots. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions on when you can move and what kind of movements you can do. Walking after surgery can help to prevent constipation.

How Much Time Do We Have Between Missle Launch from North Korea and Strike in the US?

Knowing how much time you have between a missle launch from North Korea and a strike in the US allows you to seek proper shelter in a basement, duck and cover or to get away from the most dangeous areas of the city.
  • Guam residents may have up to 18 minutes
  • Los Angeles residents may have up to 38 minutes
  • Anchorage residents may have up to 29 minutes
  • Honolulu residents may have up to 37 minutes
  • Chicago residents may have up to 39 minutes
  • Washington D.C. residents may have up to 41 minutes
  • New York City residents may have up to 40 minutes

If You're Outside During the Attack

  • Do NOT look at the flash or incoming fireball as it may blind you.
  • Take cover and sheild yourself behind anything that may offer protection. If there is nothing to provide cover, lay flat on the ground and cover your head. The blast wave may take 30 seconds or more.
  • Seek and take shelter as soon as possible.

What You Should Do After the Blast

  • Take shelter as soon as you possibly can.
  • Remove your contaminated clothing, put it in a plastic bag and tie the bag closed. Put the radioactive bag far away from people and animals.
  • Take a shower with lots of soap and water and don't scrub your skin if you were outside and were possibly exposed to radiation. Use shampoo but don't use conditioner as it may bind radioactive material to your hair.
  • Clean yourself with a clean, wet cloth If you're unable to shower, to wipe all of your skin that was not covered by clothing.
  • Blow your nose and wipe your eyelids with a clean wet cloth. Wipe your ears.
  • Listen to the news for official public safety information with instructions on what to do, where to go and where to avoid. If your children are in school, stay informed through news and online sources. If your child has questions answer them and discuss the situation as a family so you can process the event together.
  • Connect with family, friends and others around you. Stress, worry and fear are common responses after a disaster. Pay attention to how you and others are feeling. Talking about what happened is important in coping in an emergency.
  • Stay away from damaged radioactive areas

How Long Should You Stay Inside After a Nuclear Attack?

  • It may take up to two weeks for the radiation threat to recede so you should stay underground or in a fallout shelter for up to two weeks. Listen to the news for instructions and updates from authorities.

Resources for a Nuclear Attack

  • is a national public service campaign that helps the American people to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
  • FAQ's about a nuclear blast are provided by the CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Nuclear attack fact sheet provided by DHS
  • RADEX RD1503 is a radiation detector that provides immediate radiation readings