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Response to question on nuke fallout

In response to a video I made with some proof that affordable housing still exists in the Dakotas, a viewer asked a question about nuclear fallout, particularly in the event nuclear silos around Air Force bases are targeted.

Here is some information about surviving nuclear attacks. 


4 types of dangers:

  1. Heat
  2. Blast
  3. Radiation
  4. People

The range of all direct effects of nukes depends on the payload of the bomb.

You can expect these to be focused on cities and strategic targets.

Because the lethality of heat and blast are so high, we are just going to focus on radiation, but keep in mind that the heat will cause massive fires. These fires will not be put out (no fire department, no water pumping) so they will burn until they run out of fuel, and they will release all kinds of nasty chemicals into the sky.


For those who escape the heat and blast, the radiation risk comes through fallout, the radioactive particles that fall from the sky after the blast.

You need to seek shelter and stay there, doing what you can to minimize airflow from outside (shut windows, shut vents, tape them up with plastic).

The time you need to stay in shelter (preferably in a basement) is a minimum of 24 hours, but the longer you stay, the less likely you will be to die sooner from radiation poisoning or later from cancer. It looks like the benefit of sheltering ends around 80 days.

Understanding different types of radiation

Radioactive elements are unstable. Once they deteriorate, they are no longer dangerous. The time it takes for them to become safe is called half-life. This is the time it takes for half of the radioactive particles to become safe.

There are different elements that are released during a nuclear blast. Each radioactive isotope has a different half-life and different dangers.

Strontium-90 has a half life of 28.8 years. It is dangerous, but not much can be done about it.

Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,100 years and Plutonium-241's half-life is 14.4 years. It isn't nearly as harmful to humans as Iodine and Strontium.

Uranium-235 has a half-life of 700 million years and Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.47 billion years. Thankfully, like Plutonium, it isn't nearly as harmful to humans as Iodine and Strontium.

Iodine-131 has a half life of 8 days. Most nukes are uranium or plutonium, which produce ~3% radioactive iodine. This is the one that kills people the most / the fastest because your body absorbs lots of iodine and concentrates it in your thyroid. One potassium iodide tablet taken per day after a blast will limit absorption of radioactive iodide. I bought these.

Cesium is released, but I couldn't find data on the quantities or impacts. The half life is 30 years.


A lot can be said about this, but I'll just quote a document I found on NIH's website:

“So much of the social and economic structure of society as we know it would be destroyed that relationships that we take for granted would disappear. Money would have little or no value. Food and other necessities would be obtained, when available, by barter. More likely, as people became desperate with hunger, survival instincts would take over, and armed individuals or marauding bands would raid and pilfer whatever supplies and stores still existed. Those fortunate individuals who had stores would hoard their resources and soon become the victims of the crazed behavior of starving and desperate survivors who would ransack warehouses and attack individual homes. Law enforcement would not exist, and many would be killed in the fighting between those trying forcefully to obtain possession of food stores and those trying to protect their own homes, families, and food supplies.” 

“Stocks of fuels, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, and seed would soon be exhausted. Not only functioning tractors but also beasts of burden would be in short supply, and food production would become very labor intensive—a throwback to the primitive farming methods of the Middle Ages or earlier. The resistance of insects to radiation and the lack of pesticides would further reduce the yield of crops. Fields downwind from targeted sites are likely to be made unusable by radioactive fallout for weeks to years.”

Also, note that while radiation is toxic, people are typically stupid and even more irrational during unexpected emergencies. Don't be surprised if there are hordes of mobs marauding in the direct aftermath of a blast, unaware that in doing so they are shortening their lifespan to hours, days, weeks, or months.


The wind blows east. If you live east of a nuclear incident, you will need to stay in your house (preferably basement) for 80 days. Plan on everything you will need, and remember it is very unlikely you will have electricity.

Some ideas:

  • Food (wheat or rye can be eaten raw if soaked for 24 hours in water).
  • Water
  • Way to store waste (buckets with lids)
  • Tape and plastic
  • Heat, if needed (realize you will be in an air-sealed environment, so don't kill yourself with CO2)
  • Candles
  • Productive ways to use time:
    • scriptures
    • survival books
    • weights
    • coloring books
  • Guns.
  • Soap and washcloths.
  • Underwear.
Think outside the box.

Example: if you have chickens, you could go gather the eggs and (provided you have a rooster), keep them for two weeks, then begin incubating them with body heat or in a compost bucket (wood shavings and pee). Chicks eat next to nothing, and then you will emerge from your hiding with some chickens.

Another example: If you store food and water in your basement anyway, you can eat all of that without needing any special arrangements in the event of this sort of disaster.

80 days is a long time to be doing nothing. It's a great time to fast to shed those extra pounds, read up on how to live in the primitive world that awaits you, learn to spin wool, whatever.


The aftermath of this will have a lot to do with what caused it. If a rogue suitcase bomb, like the many missing from the former USSR, it could be an isolated incident, and you might emerge from this to rejoin normal life. In pretty much any other situation, what lies after will look nothing like what came before.