Government officials say they are moving aggressively to conduct drills, prepare communication guides and raise awareness among emergency planners on how to educate the public, and get past the mental block that a nuclear attack is too terrible to think about.
The latest advice is get inside any stable building and don’t come out until officials say it’s safe.
Pundits clarify that, yes, those within the initial blast area are ‘toast’ as one expert put it, but many of the population will not be in the horrific zone. And how they seek shelter for even a few initial hours of protection can greatly increase survival rates.
Given the daytime population density of a large modern city, the number that would be hurt by prompt effects of the blast or threatened by fallout particles could be in the hundreds of thousands. However, the number of casualties can be significantly reduced through community pre-event planning at the local level to educate citizens about appropriate response actions. The largest potential for reduction in casualties comes from reducing exposure to fallout radiation, which is accomplished by early, adequate sheltering followed by informed evacuation.
The best buildings to be in immediately after a nuclear attack outside of ground zero proximity? A ten story building in the basement. The inner units of a high rise in the middle and lower floors. The basements of 5-story, 4-story, 3-story, 2-story, and even 1-story buildings. Second, third and fourth floor areas, especially inner units offer better protection than first floor or top floor areas.
A graph from citizenscorps.gov referenced below shows that fallout is the worst within the first hour — peaking at about 30 minutes. Fortunately, fallout decreases almost back to normal at about six days. Fallout depends on wind and weather conditions.
Many media outlets have made references to the old ‘Duck and Cover’ phrase from decades ago.
See also …
Citizencorps.gov Nuclear Incident Communication Planning [PDF]