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Apr 10, 2007

More advice on best actions to survive a nearby nuclear blast

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military, nuclear weapons

Carnegie Mellon researchers Keith Florig and Baruch Fischhoff offer simple, practical advice: on whether it is worth citizens’ time to stock supplies needed for a home shelter, how urgently should one seek shelter following a nearby nuclear detonation, and how long should survivors remain in a shelter after the radioactive dust settles.


“A number of emergency-management organizations recommend that people stock their homes with a couple dozen categories of emergency supplies,” said Florig of Carnegie Mellon’s engineering and public policy department. “We calculated that it would cost about $240 per year for a typical family to maintain such a stock, including the value of storage space and the time needed to tend to it.”

Their research also suggests that many families who could afford to follow the stocking guidelines might think twice about whether the investment was really worth it, given the low probability that stocked supplies would actually be used in a nuclear emergency.

They advocate simple rules for minimizing risk based on how far people are from the blast. If you are within several miles of the blast, there will be no time to flee and you will have only minutes to seek shelter. If you are 10 miles [downwind] from the blast, you will have 15 to 60 minutes to find shelter, but not enough time to reliably flee the area before the fallout arrives,” said Florig.

However, the prior advice would suggest that if you are 10 miles from the blast that you could move perpendicular to the direction of the fallout plume and get out of the way in under 15 minutes. Needing to move one mile for smaller bombs. So I would think 10–20 miles downwind is a judgement call, but 25 miles you should be able to get out of the way of the fallout plume.

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Comments — comments are now closed.

  • randpost on April 13, 2007 1:22 pm

    Fear mongering. $240 per year to prepare for a nuclear bomb? You gotta be fucking kidding me.

  • Brian Wang on April 13, 2007 2:47 pm

    The blog content is free. The discussion on what to do in case something bad happens is not dissimilar from the worst case disaster advice books. One of the more recent ones also covers some advice on surviving nuclear fallout.

    http://www.amazon.com/Worst-Case-Scenario-Survival-Handbook-…sr=8-1

    They are charging for the book.
    How are they or we fear mongering ?

    Fear mongering is spreading discreditable, misrepresentative information designed to induce fear and apprehension.

    How is the information discreditable or misrepresented ?

    We are also are not telling people to be more fearful or apprehensive but pro-active and forewarned.

    Are you saying that reading about the calculated and scientifically assessed statistical risks and situations has made you fearful and apprehensive ? Does reading about disease mortality statistics or violent crime statistics make you more fearful and apprehensive ? Does reading about crime prevention or steps for public health improvement make you more fearful and apprehensive ?
    Is it just thinking about your own mortality that has made you fearful and apprehensive ?

    Membership money is to support the organization and the listed projects.
    Do you have similar concerns about organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving ?

    Is it because we are discussing low frequency but potentially high impact risks ?

    Would propose that we include some kind of caveats or warnings to go along with the messages so that people can help maintain perspective ?

  • jimmy on October 27, 2007 2:34 pm

    well this is an example of a nuclear weapon doing its job, it doesnt need to be fired to have an effect. if a nation fires a salvo of nukes at another then as we all remember from the film “wargames” then all that will happen is the countries will destroy each other. possibly the greatest effect a nuclear armament brings is a psychological one.