60 Seconds of Advice on How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

This website was created in 2017 to provide very fast advice for people in major cities who are figuring out what to do only as nuclear weapons have begun flying. It is particularly written for people in San Francisco, which is a target city for North Korean missiles, and where I live, but should be relevant to all. Please place any suggested improvements here.

If nuclear weapons are being used please post this on Facebook and Twitter to help your friends and then implement.


You can increase your chance of surviving. The 3 principles are:

  1. DISTANCE: The farther from the blast the better.
  2. SHIELDING: Shield inside behind heavier and denser materials like walls, concrete, bricks, books and earth. Best: Go as far underground as you can (eg. a basement or subway). Second best: The windowless centre on the middle floors of a thick, wide building. Third best: The most shielded part of a residential house, on the other side of the blast. Do this even if you are far away.
  3. FALLOUT: The explosion creates and throws up deadly radioactive dust. However, radiation declines ~25% a day. It’s only 1% as strong after 2 weeks. Hide from any air, dust or other material from outside. Do this even if you are far away, as fallout can be blown far by wind.

What to do now:

  • If the bomb has not hit and better shelter, such as a multi-story building, basement or underground subway can be reached within a few minutes, go there immediately. Otherwise shield inside the nearest building now.
  • If outside, with no buildings within reach before the blast: take cover behind anything that might offer protection. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. Do not get up until after you feel the blast wave. It could take minutes to reach you.
  • Never look at the blast. If you look at the blast you will go blind.
  • If practical set your bathtub to fill with water.
  • During at least the first few days stay inside, sheltered away from fallout. Prevent any air/material coming inside if you can.
  • When to leave or go outside: listen for and follow instructions of emergency response personnel. Those closest to the blast or intensely downwind may need to shelter for up to a month. Many can safely evacuate in 1-2 weeks.

If exposed to any fallout/dust, for example by being outside: shower with soap carefully across your whole body with clean water. Wash/shave off all your hair to remove any fallout. Blow your nose, clean your ears and eyes. If no shower available, wipe off as much material as you can manually until you can shower.

Dispose of your dirty clothes far away. Do not allow any dust to get back on you from your clothes or otherwise. Do not leave clothes near people as they are radioactive.


If you are not under attack now, continue reading this:

  • If you plan ahead now, or are far enough away, you could figure out if you are downwind of the fallout. If so, after the blast has past you may consider escaping the fallout before it arrives by travelling quickly away from the blast and/or orthogonal to the wind direction. Only do this if you don’t have good shelter and are sure you can get away fast, e.g. in a car. This is a more advanced high-risk high-return approach.
  • Build an Emergency Supply Kit and Family Emergency Plan, including 10 potassium iodide tablets for each person in the house. During periods of heightened threat increase your disaster supplies including food and water to be adequate for up to two weeks.
  • Find out from officials if any public buildings in your community have been designated as fallout shelters. Plan where you will flee ahead of time.
  • If your community has no designated fallout shelters, make a list of potential shelters near your home, workplace and school, such as basements, subways, tunnels, or the windowless center area of middle floors in a high-rise building.

Source: https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-blast

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