Nuclear Blast


A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave, and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water, and ground surface for miles around. In the event of a nuclear incident, it is imperative to avoid radioactive material, if possible. While security experts predict that at this time a nuclear attack is less likely then any of the other types, terrorism by its nature is unpredictable.

In the event of a nuclear attack

If there is advanced warning of an attack: Take cover immediately, as far below ground as possible, though any shield or shelter will help protect you from the immediate effects of the blast and pressure wave.

If there is no warning:

  • Quickly assess the situation.
  • Consider if evacuation is possible or if going into a building to “shelter-in-place” is the better way to limit the amount of radioactive material you are exposed to.
  • If you do take shelter, go as far below ground as possible, close windows and doors, turn off air conditioners, heaters, and other ventilation systems. Stay where you are, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news as it becomes available.
  • To limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to, think about shielding, distance and time
    • Shielding: If you have a thick shield between yourself and the radioactive materials more of the harmful radiation will be absorbed and you will be exposed to less.
    • Distance: The farther away you are from the blasts epicenter and the fallout the lower your exposure to harmful radiation.
    • Time: Minimizing the time spent exposed to the radiation will also reduce your risk or serious side effects. 

Consider keeping potassium iodide in your emergency kit

Make use of all available information to assess the situation. If there is a significant radiation threat, health care authorities may advise you to take potassium iodide. Potassium iodide is the same substance added to table salt to iodize it. It may protect your thyroid gland, which is particularly vulnerable to damage from radiation, from radioactive iodine exposure. Consider keeping potassium iodide in your emergency kit; learn what the appropriate doses are for each of your family members. Plan to speak to your health care provider in advance about what course of action makes the most sense for your family.