How To Prepare For A Nuclear Attack

It is horrifying to think about the possibility of a nuclear attack. It can bring about feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and all around fear. As of 2017, the number of nuclear warheads worldwide is 9,220, so there is cause to be concerned. While the hope is that nothing like this occurs, it still makes sense to prepare just in case.

The best way to prepare for a nuclear attack is to create a short-term and long-term strategy. The ultimate goal is to identify your immediate steps for survival. 

The most crucial step to preparing for a nuclear attack is having a well-thought-out plan. Here, we will layout the components of an effective nuclear attack plan for you and your family.

Find Shelter

Nuclear Fallout Shelter
Nuclear Fallout Shelter

A nuclear attack can happen at any time and any place. While you may have the luxury of a warning, you have to entertain the fact that it could be unexpected. So, it is imperative that you understand the importance of finding shelter.

A nuclear attack will instantly put dangerous chemicals and radiation in the air. As a result, it is crucial to find a type of shelter that can withstand biowarfare. Brick and concrete are excellent materials that can ward off radiation and chemicals.

It is also crucial to know where the blast occurred. If the attack happened above ground, be sure to make your way to the building’s lowest level (underground if possible). If the blast was underground, safely make your way up to higher floors. However, always remain toward the center of the building. This area is likely to be the most stable location in the building.

To adequately prepare for a nuclear attack, pick out buildings along your typical commute route that you can use for shelter. This tactic ensures that you have a place in mind in case you are on your way to work or school.

Because of the chaos of the situation, you will not have much time to think through your next move. So, it helps to have three to five places you can quickly get to for shelter if you are away from home.

Have Enough Supplies for at Least 24 – 48 Hours

Ultimate Arms Gear Bug OutAfter 24 hours, only one percent of the radiation is still in the air. So, having enough supplies for 24 hours is crucial. Since you could be at home, or outside of your home if this occurs, it is essential to have an emergency pack available at all times. You should have one for your home, your car, and your place of work. Your emergency pack should include:

  • A hand-cranked radio
  • A power bank that can wirelessly charge multiple USB devices
  • A gallon of water for yourself (and each person in your home)
  • Any required medications
  • Non-perishable food items
  • A change of clothes (your original clothes could potentially have absorbed radiation)
  • A flashlight
  • Batteries
  • A first-aid kit
  • Duct tape (for sealing off openings under doors or windows)
  • Paper maps of your immediate area
  • Plastic gloves
  • Clean wipes

These are essential items you will need to survive for 24 to 48 hours. However, anything can happen during a nuclear attack. So, it is a good idea to pack enough items for over a week. You want to ensure you and your family are in the position to survive longer than 24 hours if the need arises.

Prepare for a Long-Term Situation

Harvest Right Freeze Dried FoodA nuclear attack could cause a longer-term problem. For example, it could result in a nuclear war or multiple attacks. So, you want to protect yourself and your family if things do not end quickly. This is what you should include in a long-term kit:

  • Essential family documents like IDs, passports, insurance policies, bank account information, and other crucial documents in a waterproof bag or container
  • Cash
  • Chlorine bleach (this substance can be used to treat water)
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Extra pet food
  • Baby formula and diapers
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Tools (ex. hammer, wrenches, screwdriver, pliers)
  • Matches
  • Hand sanitizer

These items are just general recommendations. You may find that you need additional things that are specific to your family unit. Also, it is worth mentioning that even though this is a severe situation, you need to have activities that keep up your morale.

So, be sure to also have books, puzzles, and even board games for yourself and children in the home. These items can keep everyone positive and reduce fear and anxiety.

Plan to Take Care of any Potential Contamination

Thyrosafe PillsYou have no idea how close you are to the blast radius. Therefore, anything can be contaminated. Once you reach shelter, it is crucial to remove any outer layer of clothing. So, use plastic gloves to store clothing in a plastic trash bag, and move it away from you as far as possible.

If you are at home, take a shower to get rid of any contamination that may have made it onto your skin. If you find yourself outside the house, use a damp and clean cloth to wipe as much of your bare skin as you can. Be sure to advise all family member to do the same.

It is also crucial to wash any pets that are in the home. Unfortunately, they too can carry contaminants, so make a point to wash their hair and wipe their skin as well. Also, be sure not to consume any food or drink items that were outside or uncovered. Safely dispose of these items, and only eat food that was securely covered.

Know Where to Go for Reliable Information

Emergency Radio
Emergency Radio

Again, your immediate thoughts are going to be concerned with survival. So, you will want to prepare for where to go for reliable information before a nuclear attack occurs.

Today, it may seem tempting to look to the internet or your smartphone. Unfortunately, a nuclear attack will likely destroy cell towers and network servers. As a result, you will not have any access to phone or internet.

So, make a point to identify reliable information services. Many of these will be radio stations you can access using your hand-crank radio. Make a point to research the local radio stations that will provide instructions during an emergency.

In the rare event that the internet does happen to be operational, be sure you know the local and national news outlets to visit for information. In a situation such as this, the more knowledge you have, the better.

So, put yourself and your family in the best position possible to receive vital information. Knowing these stations and outlets ahead of time allows you to find what you need instantly.

Become Aware of Hospitals, Police Stations, and Fire Stations in the Area

Emergency HospitalWhile it is imperative to stay indoors, knowing where hospitals and fire stations are can help you in a crisis. In emergency situations like this sometimes knowing where a hospital is can be the difference between life and death. There are two crucial reasons as to why you should know where these buildings are:

  • If you (or anyone in your family) are seriously sick or injured, and cannot wait 24 hours for emergency services
  • If those in charge of evacuations and emergency preparedness instruct you to go to these areas if you happen to be close by.

You never know how severe a nuclear attack could be. There may be cause to have everyone go to the same area for further instructions. If this happens to be the case, you will not have a mobile GPS to fall back on. So, it is crucial that you know how to navigate to these buildings using your navigational skills or a local paper map.

The level of chaos and lack of communication will be high. The last thing you want is to be unaware of places where you and your family can receive help and instruction.

Designate a Place to Reunite

Emergency Meet Up In Park

In the unfortunate event that you and your family are separated, it is helpful to have a designated meeting spot. Again, it is crucial that you help your family understand that they need to seek shelter for the next 24 hours. However, once the dust settles, you will want to know they are okay.

Depending on where they are when the attack occurs, they could be anywhere in the city. So, designate a spot that is close to everyone’s potential location to meet.

For example, you may have made it home, but your family members may have been at school, their place of employment, or somewhere else.

In 24 hours, you still may not have access to phone or internet. So, it makes sense to have a place where you can meet to know everyone is safe. This plan will depend on your family’s potential commutes and routines.

It may make sense for everyone to meet at your home, or it may be more feasible to meet at a location that is closer to where everyone likely was during the attack.

Regardless of your choice, select a time and place where everyone should meet. This way you can be immediately aware if someone is missing.

A Note to Remember

Even amid a chaotic event such as this one, you do have options. The best way to prepare for a nuclear attack or any other large scale emergency is to have a plan in place. Just starting to think about steps such as those mentioned above can save the life of you and your family.




Hi! I’m David. For most of my life I have been interested in emergency preparedness. Over the many years things have changed a great deal. From freeze dried food, to LED lanterns, preparing for an emergency has never been easier. The continual research I have done over the years have become the basis for this website. Now it is one of the most trusted sources to learn about emergency preparedness. Read More

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