How to Survive a Nuclear War – Where You Live Makes All the Difference.

Will You Survive a Nuclear War?


Military Will Be First Strike Targets

One thing I found while doing research for this article is, that there is no way, with any certainty, to tell exactly where an enemy would strike the United States in an all-out nuclear war.  The best anyone can do is make an educated assessment, and put forth a logical hypothesis.

Military strategists are certain that our enemies would begin by (trying) to take-out this country’s military asset in a first strike scenario. The “First Strike” scenario assumes that there will be an attempt at a  “second strike” that will attack soft target areas like highly populated key cities and districts to maximize the devastation and destruction to people and infrastructure.

The variable is whether either country will have the ability to get off a second strike. Assumably, after a first strike, the opposing country’s infrastructure and ability to target specific locations with any certainty will be greatly diminished. That is of course, if it is ONLY one country versus another.

The map infographic below shows the most likely first-strike locations in an all-out nuclear war with Russia or China. These areas would receive the highest yield thermonuclear weapons by the opposing country. The death and destruction to infrastructure in these areas would be approximately 100 times greater than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima.

If you live within a two mile radius of this bomb blast, you will most certainly die. The most common of bomb shelters would give you some protection, however, the bomb blast would most likely take out the NBC breathing units for these shelters and other infrastructure needed to remain underground for a long period of time. Without the ability to protect yourself from nuclear fallout, death would certainly follow soon after if you survived the blast.


Most Likely Cities to Be Targeted

As we mentioned earlier, after the first round of missiles that targeted military and command locations, the next round would focus on “soft-targets.” The purpose being to cause as much damage and destruction to people and infrastructure as possible, keeping this country “in the dark” and unable to mount a counter attack.

Like we said, each country’s ability to get off a second strike with precision is what’s in question. Nobody really knows how much damage, and to what degree it would hamper their ability to respond with a second strike. That is if we are dealing with two countries at war.

What if there are multiple countries at war? Say for instance, if Russia and China attacked the United states. Under this scenario, we must assume that soft targets will be able to be targeted as other foreign countries who are unfriendly to the US, like North Korea and Pakistan, will most likely join the fight. 

When accessing the which soft-target will be hit first, we really have no idea. However, we do know which soft-targets would deal the biggest damage to life and infrastructure. We can only assume our enemies do as well. The image below shows the most likely soft-target cities to be struck in a nuclear war. We have numbered they by their importance, and most likely the sequence in which they would be targeted. These cities, as with the military targets, would most likely receive the largest of the thermonuclear weapons.


Blast Zones & Fallout Zones

The first thing to know is that there are three types of radiation emitted by a nuclear bomb:

  1. Alpha – These are fast moving helium atoms. They have high energy, typically in the MeV range, but due to their large mass, they are stopped by just a few inches of air, or a piece of paper.
  2. Beta – These are fast moving electrons. They typically have energies in the range of a few hundred keV to several MeV. Since electrons are might lighter than helium atoms, they are able to penetrate further, through several feet of air, or several millimeters of plastic or less of very light metals.
  3. Gamma – These are photons, just like light, except of much higher energy, typically from several keV to several MeV. X-Rays and gamma rays are really the same thing, the difference is how they were produced. Depending on their energy, they can be stopped by a thin piece of aluminum foil, or they can penetrate several inches of lead.

In most cases fallout will be deadly anywhere from 2-30 days. It really depends on the fallout. If you are upwind of a nuclear blast and there is no fallout, you will be safe to leave your shelter immediately. If you are downwind of a nuclear blast, you will be in your shelter for approximately 28 days. After 28 days, 99% of the radiation emitted by the fallout will have decayed and you can leave your shelter and try to resume a normal life.

The health effects of nuclear explosions are due primarily to air blast, thermal radiation, initial nuclear radiation, and residual nuclear radiation or fallout. For the survivors of a nuclear war, this lingering radiation hazard could represent a grave threat for as long as 1 to 5 years after the attack. Predictions of the amount and levels of the radioactive fallout are difficult because of several factors.



Bottom Line: Obviously, the safest places to reside will vary on the nature of the nuclear threats you perceive to have the highest probability of occurring in your lifetime. For a future nuclear bomb attack on mainland U.S.A., then all military targets are top on the list and most large cities would be secondary, with a few exceptions, like Washington, DC. But, for nuclear terrorist concerns, then the largest population centers would more likely be targets of first choice.

 In either case, the safest places would be most anywhere other than in or near or downwind of large cities, especially those immediately adjacent to or downwind of military targets. Also, even for the populations of cities that survived an attack, the basic needs of water, food, medical and law & order could make for a miserable and quickly deteriorating nightmare.

Obviously, not everyone can move to live & work in a rural location, but most people won’t be reading this and fewer still will heed it. But, for many still, simply living 20 miles away, and upwind, from target locations will be all the difference in the world when combined with some of the simple preparations from the knowledge presented here.

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