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Nuclear Threat

A nuclear explosion is the most devastating potential terrorist attack;  fortunately most terrorism experts believe it is also the least likely type of attack.   Even a small nuclear explosion will completely destroy many city blocks. 

How to Identify a Nuclear Attack

  • A nuclear explosion will start with an intense flash of heat and light followed within seconds by an explosive blast
  • For a small weapon, the flash only lasts one to two seconds
  • A large bomb could have a flash that lasts 10 seconds or more

How to Prepare for a Nuclear Attack

How to Respond to a Nuclear Attack

  • If you receive warning of an imminent attack:
    • Seek shelter in the basement of a building
    • If you are not near a building, any cover from the heat and blast will help protect you
  • The first sign of a nuclear explosion will be a bright flash of light
    • Get behind anything that will hide you from the light and heat, which can burn your skin and eyes 
    • A powerful blast will follow within seconds; you will not have time to get to a shelter but getting behind anything solid will give some protection
    • If you are indoors the flash occurs, get away from windows or dive under the windows if you cannot get away 
    • Even miles away from a nuclear explosion, where the blast may not hurt you directly, flying glass can be deadly
  • If you survive the flash and blast there are two other hazards:  fire and radiation
    • The heat from a nuclear explosion can cause fires even beyond the distance where buildings are destroyed by the blast
    • If you are in an area where buildings have been damaged and fires may be starting, travel away from the direction of the explosion
  • If you are outside the area that is damaged by the blast and fire, there is still a danger from radioactive fallout
    • Inhaling radioactive dust or fallout should be avoided by covering your mouth with cloth
    • The radioactivity can be so strong that being in the contaminated area can be dangerous;  most buildings do not offer enough protection, so you should leave the area
    • The cloud of dust and smoke from the explosion will be visible and will be carried by the wind.   Travel across the direction of the wind (not downwind), away from the dust cloud. At night, you will have to estimate the direction to travel based on where you saw the flash and the local wind. 
    • The radioactive fallout will be in a strip several miles wide but if you are miles from the blast site, then you will have many minutes to an hour to leave the area, so travelling away from the fallout is feasible and useful
  • Even outside the radioactive fallout zone, you may still be carrying some radioactive dust
    • Remove all clothing that may be contaminated
    • Put clothing in plastic bags and store it outside away from people
    • Shower and wash your hair well

More Information