How to Survive a Nuclear Bomb: Can You Survive A Nuclear Bomb?

June 29, 2022 8 min read

How to Survive a Nuclear Bomb: Can You Survive A Nuclear Bomb?

The threat of nuclear war has loomed over humanity for decades along with the question of how to survive a nuclear bomb. With tensions still high between the United States and Russia, it’s essential to be a holistic prepper. Those who will survive a massive nuclear attack are equipped with the proper knowledge and supplies before the point of no return. This is also the time that you should have already decided either to bug out or bug in whenever this disaster occurs. 

Scenarios such as economic crises, civil unrest, natural calamities, world war, pandemics, and foodshortages are catastrophes that most have either already seen or will see in their own lifetime. These disasters are, to some extent, predictable.

We can forecast the weather; social disturbance usually manifests over a few weeks; and pandemics can be studied and controlled. On the other hand, a nuclear bomb attack can come completely without warning, and should it happen, it would be a race against time. 

There is no telling how far away the bomb is from your position or when it will detonate, leaving you little to no time to reach safety—which is why it is important to be prepared. It is a real threat and has been used twice in the past.

We can no longer dismiss the validity of a possible nuclear bomb attack, knowing that these weapons exist. The ColdWar has long been over, but the danger of atomic warfare still lingers.

How to Survive a Nuclear Bomb: The Ultimate Guide

Prepping for a nuclear bomb attack begins with arming yourself with the proper knowledge about what happens in the event of an explosion. Being prepared and properly equipped will aid in making the best judgment in crunch time. 

How Do You Make a Nuke Shelter?image of a door to a nuclear bomb shelter opened

Unless your home was built before the 1970s, it probably doesn’t come pre-equipped with a bunker—and even then, it is uncommon to find a fallout shelter in homes. This means it’s time to prepare yourself.

You can spend the big bucks building it, but with inflation and gas prices, not all families have extra money to throw around on things like this. Here is how you can create a DIY Bomb Shelter in your basement:

  • Find and buy heavy materials such as bricks or sandbags. Check with local construction and demolition companies to see if you can take some bricks off their hands after a demo. 
    • Use these materials to board up any windows and doors. Be sure to leave some extra materials to board up the last door you use to enter the basement. 
  • If you see any mattresses on the side of the road or have any lying around your home, stack them up on the wall (as long as they don’t have bed bugs!). This will give your DIY shelter extra insulation. 
  • Stock it up. Make sure you stock up your shelter with enough long-term foodstorage, water storage, and supplies. You may be asking yourself, “How much food storage do I need?” Check out the link provided for a guide on how much food each person in your family will need. 

If you need food to stock up on your emergency shelter, shop Valley Food Storage’s food thatlasts 25 years!

photo of a military base flying an American flag

Get Prepared for a Nuclear Bomb Attack Now, Not Later

The United States Military has bases all over the world. One advantage of these bases is that they may be able to detect potential nuclear attacks before our domestic bases do. This gives Americans some time to prepare—but not a lot. Is the US able to intercept a nuclear missile? It’s hard to say until it happens. There are only 3 times when the US Military can intercept a nuclear bomb: when it is launched when it’s in space, and when it reenters the atmosphere.

It is probably unlikely that we would be able to intercept it as it’s launched unless we had an inside source. This is because it takes 30 seconds to detect a launch, and by this point, it is well above the clouds.

What about killing it while it’s in space? In space, there is no air resistance, which can confuse our missile tracking system. Well, how about as it reenters the atmosphere? Our government would only have about a minute to intercept the bomb, and many tests have shown there is only about a 50/50 chance the bomb can actually be hit. 

How to Survive a Nuke and How Far Away From a Nuclear Bomb is Safe

Take shelter immediately if you see a vast, unusual flash of light from afar, followed by a distant roar. It is the first sign that a dangerous weapon has been detonated.

A nuclear detonation would follow an explosion of heat that could destroy everything within several miles, depending on the size of the bomb. The blast wave, gamma-ray, and thermal radiation would arrive at ground zero almost instantly.

image of a nuclear missile taking off

How Do You Survive After the Nuclear Bomb Drops?

How far do you have to be from a nuclear explosion to survive? Once a nuclear bomb drops, it will no doubt vaporize anything caught within its 2-kilometer ground detonation blast. According to the experts, a nuclear blast radius has three lethal levels of range spread.

“The Fireball” is where the drop zone is. The blast's epicenter will leave everything flattened, which means no chance of survival. An intense shockwave would follow, which runs about 2 miles from the explosion point, with intense heat blasts so great that it destroys most buildings within its reach, and any living thing would perish.

Medium strength shockwave is the level of blast energy that spans up to 8 miles from the detonation site. This blast radius level can still cause 3rd-degree burns and excessive radiation exposure.

There is tragically nothing that can be done for those near a blast zone. 

Once a nuclear bomb explodes, radioactive particles are blasted up into the sky before it rains back to the ground. This hazardous material can spread hundreds of miles, depending on wind patterns and the weather.

Human exposure to this is extremely dangerous and will cause radiation sickness, cellular degradation, and eventually death. Do not leave your location if you see the radioactive particles begin to fall from the sky. 

Anyone far enough away, but outdoors, should immediately seek a final shelter to wait out such a catastrophe. Keep in mind that looking directly at the flashing light as it happens will cause temporary blindness. Avoid it at all costs and take cover to a solid shelter immediately. If you find yourself in a building, head to the basement or proceed to a higher floor. Stay down, and away from the windows.picture of a ruined house with ashes all over

How do you know if you are far enough from the blast site? If you are still on your feet and at least somewhat lucid after the explosion, it is safe to assume that you are at the fringes of the blast zone. Remember that there will only be 10 to 15 minutes to move if you are not home or in a temporary shelter.

It is imperative not to forget this critical time window as it will help you decide whether to move or hunker down. The longest distance possible between you and the blast site will be the best for your health, but it only takes 10 to 15 minutes for the radiation particles to rain back to the ground. If you are on the move longer than this, total radiation exposure will lower your chances of survival. 

The survival of the initial blast will largely depend on whether you were at the right place at the right time. Surviving a nuclear attack will depend on your distance from the blast site, your shelter situation, and your immediate actions after the detonation. If you were far enough away and indoors during the explosion, your chances of survival are still very possible. 

Alright, so how far away is safe from a nuclear bomb? It will vary some with the terrain, but as long as you are inside and bunkered down, 8 miles away is usually safe. 

A nuclear attack does not end after the blast. It will only worsen as the fallout dissipates in the air and returns to the ground with radioactive particles. It then creates the dangerous long-term effects of the nuclear attack aftermath.

Be Safe After the Nuclear Explosion

After you’ve managed all this, you can plan your next steps. Consider the possibility of another attack and reinforce your fort by sealing up windows and turning off exhaust chambers. Start to ration supplies to make it last, as water may soon get contaminated.

Assess the current living situation and keep tabs on any communication from the government authorities, using a frequency radio if there are evacuation directions. The aftermath will disable most communication systems, the internet, and electricity. Expect that it will take time for help to come for catastrophes like this.

Survivors will have to wait and let the fallout run its course until it diminishes to a tolerable level. Know that the full scale of the threat from fallout is during the first two weeks post-explosion. After this initial period, the radioactive particles will lose their toxicity rapidly.

What Happens if You're Exposed to Radiation?

Some of the radiation health effects include radiation sickness or acute radiation syndrome. This has symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Acuteradiation syndrome can cause death. 

Sickness from radiation exposure mainly depends on how much you were exposed to. Calculate your radiation dosage here to decide the next course of action (provided you still have phone service). It may be smart to print out all the possible results and keep them safe in your bunker in case there isn’t phone service. Check out this article about how to communicateduring a crisis

How to Clear Nuclear Radiation From Outside and Inside Your Body

Once you’ve established your base, strip down and get rid of your clothes, as they are contaminated. Put clothes in a plastic bag and put them away as far as possible from your living space.

Wash down with running water as quickly as possible to remove any radioactive particles from your skin, using soap and shampoo. Do the same with pets if they were outside during the blast. Do not use conditioners or lotion, as they will bind the radiation particles to your hair and skin. 

image of nuclear missiles lined up

Conclusion: Can you Survive a Nuclear Bomb? 

Keep your shelter intact, and be prepared for the possibility of moving and taking supplies with you. Evaluate your options and be critically aware of the risks when on the move. Also, consider that there may be attacks on potential target areas such as military bases, government buildings, power plants, ports, financial districts, and airports. 

The world is full of uncertainties. Nuclear war is high on that list of threats as more countries begin to develop nuclear power. Thus, you should familiarize yourself and your family with the basics of surviving a nuclear attack. It may seem impossible to pull off, but surviving is undoubtedly possible with enough planning and knowledge.

Should a nuclear bomb attack happen, remember this by default: get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned. If you are looking for more information regarding radiation emergency preparedness, check out this radiation emergency training from the CDC. 

Do you want to learn more about how you can start preparing for a disaster today? Next, read our prepping for beginners guide to get started!