The most important element of survival is preparedness. The advice and kit lists below are a bare minimum requirement. In order to survive comfortably you need to prepare yourself well ahead of any disaster. Instead of thinking about a new car or last minute cruises for your family, ask if you have fully considered their safety in the event of a disaster. Time spent now getting kitted out and drawing up a Family Survival Plan is time well spent. In the unlikely event of a disaster occurring you will be grateful that you did so.
The Department for Homeland Security have recently issued new advice to citizens in the event of nuclear disaster. The advice centres on research which suggests that the most effective way of surviving radiation fallout is to take cover immediately. You will need to have a survival kit in your home to sustain you until emergency services give the all clear.
In the event of a nuclear blast or nuclear accident the DHS now recommend that people resist the urge to run away from the area at all costs. Research shows that the protection afforded from exposure to radiation simply by sheltering immediately is significant. To illustrate the importance of these new findings an example was given by health physicist Brooke Buddemeier, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, at a recent conference. He stated that if a nuclear attack took place at ground zero tomorrow, and people within a mile of the area did not take immediate cover, casualties of up to 285,000 could be expected from fallout within that radius. Even if people just sheltered in their cars that figure would drop to 125,000 deaths or injuries. A shallow basement would reduce it to 45,000. If everyone sheltered in an underground basement or car park, or even within the centre of an office building, those fallout casualties would be cut to virtually zero. The evidence is clear. Sheltering immediately saves lives.
In the event of a nuclear incident
- Take cover immediately. Go into the nearest building, preferably one built of concrete, such as a multi-storey car park if there is one nearby.
- Stay in your car, if there is no other protection. Although they do not offer adequate protection from radiation they do offer some. If you can drive, find the nearest multi-storey car park and drive to the lowest level.
- If you are in a multi-story office block, go to the centre of the building, or to the basement if possible.
- The more distance you can put between yourself and the radiation the better. Bricks, earth and concrete all provide additional protection, so basements are by far the safest places to shelter.
- Stay inside for as long as possible, or until you are given the all clear by the emergency services.
- Make sure anyone entering the house undresses at the threshold. Clothes will carry a very large percentage of radioactive material.
- Bag the contaminated clothing and place it as far away from you as possible.
- Wash with lots of soap and water, but do not use conditioner in your hair. Do not scratch or scrub too vigorously at the skin as this may allow radiation ingress.
- Blow you nose gently, wipe your eyes, and clean out your ears. Imagine you are covered in a fine powder which you must remove every trace of.
It is recommended that every family has a survival plan in place and a kit of essential items ready to use, consisting of at least the following items:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (canned/dried food)
Battery-powered radio and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First Aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
Plastic sheeting and duct tape to tape up windows
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
The list above is a minimum for survival. You might consider any of the following:
Matches in a waterproof container
A signal flare
Personal hygiene items
First aid guide
Unscented Household bleach for disinfectant (1:9 dilution ratio) or in an emergency, as a water treatment (16 drops per gallon)