Nuclear Attack

Compiled by Dick Oakes

Nuclear Attack - General

When a nuclear bomb or missle explodes, the main effects produced are intense light (flash), heat, blast, and radiation. The strength of these effects depends on the size and type of the weapon; how far away the explosion is; the weather conditions (sunny or rainy, windy or still); the terrain (flat or hilly); and the height of the explosion (high or near the ground).

Standard Warning Signals

During Nuclear Attack

After Nuclear Attack


Protection from Fallout




To protect themselves form the radiation given off by fallout particles, people in affected areas would have to stay in fallout shelters from two or three days to as long as two weeks. Many people would go to public fallout shelters, while others -- through choice or necessity -- would take refuge in private or home fallout shelters. A fallout shelter does not need to be a special type of building or underground bunker. It can be any space, provided the walls and roof are thick and dense enough to absorb the rays given off by the fallout particles outside. If there are no public fallout shelters near you, a home fallout shelter may save your life.

Improvising a Fallout Shelter

If an enemy attack should occur and you have made no advance shelter preparations, you still might be able to improvise a shelter either inside or near your home or in the open. In an emergency, radio broadcasts will tell you whether you have time to improvise a shelter or should take cover immediately.

Improvising a Basement Fallout Shelter

Set up a large, sturdy table or workbench in the corner of your basement that is most below ground level.

Using Crawl Space

Some homes without a basement have a "crawl space" between the first floor and the ground underneath the house. If you have this space under your house -- and if the house is set on foundation walls, rather than on pillars -- you can improvise fallout protection for your family there.

Living in a Shelter

People gathered in public and private shelters to escape fallout radiation after a nuclear attack might have to stay there -- at least part of the time -- for up to two weeks. During this time, they would need certain supplies and equipment in order to stay alive and well and to cope with emergency situations that might occur in their shelters. If you intend to use a home fallout shelter, you should gather together now all the things you and your family would need for two weeks, even though you probably wouldn't have to remain inside the shelter for the entire period. To augment the supplies of water and food that may be found in or near large structures where public fallout shelter is usually located, you should plan to take the following with you: