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Preparing for and surviving a Nuclear Disaster

Updated on May 27, 2011
Chernobyl | Source


A worst case nuclear disaster has the potential to drastically change life on this planet for thousands of years, but a smaller disaster is much more likely. In the case of a such a disaster, it is necessary to be prepared. Equipped with the knowledge from this article, you will know what to expect, and how to survive.


Usually, there are two important kinds of damaging radiation in these situations, alpha and gamma. 

Alpha radiation is much more damaging, but much easier to block. For this reason, you are likely safe from this kind of radiation, unless you ingest any alpha radioactive materials.

Gamma radiation can penetrate rather thick barriers, in an extreme disaster, avoiding the constant gamma radiation may become the biggest obstacle.

Radiation Protection

Acquire a hazmat, nuclear chemical biological or radiation suit. This will provide some protection from radiation, but more importantly will guard against ingestion of radioactive materials. 

Stay Indoors. If the radiation level is dangerous. The walls will keep you safer. Every material is different, but your best bet is a place with thick heavy walls and minimal windows. Use a radiation detector like a geiger meter to ensure you are avoiding the worst of the radiation.

Radiation Treatment

Iodine Supplements. By taking these supplements you can help clear any radioactive Iodine 131 isotope that may enter your thyroid.  This is vital for the first weeks after a disaster (Iodine 131 has a half life of around 8 days).

If your radiation detector indicates you are exposed to significant radiation, get to a doctor. If this is impossible, avoid Infection, the most severe issue with mild to moderate radiation sickness is the weakened immune system. To prepare for this, make sure your survival kit is sufficiently stocked with food that you don't have to endanger your weakened immune system.

Further preparation and reading

It is vital to have a detailed non-electronic nuclear survival guide or manual in case of disaster.

First Steps

  • Don your suit as soon as possible when the radiation warning first occurs.
  • Monitor the radiation and the change in radiation levels to determine when it is worth the risk to exit shelter (your survival manual will give you a breakdown of the levels).
  • Ration food for a long stay. Iodine supplements should be used in the first few weeks.
  • Wait out 'safe' radiation levels. If you must leave, do it for short, to the point trips.
  • With these supplies and this information, you should have a good chance of surviving this kind of nightmare scenario.


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