How to Survive Being Attacked by Nuclear Missiles, in 60 Seconds


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

  1. SHIELDING: Shield inside behind heavy and dense materials like walls, concrete, bricks, books and earth.
    • Best: Run 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. Do this even if you are far away.
  2. DISTANCE: The farther from the blast the better.
  3. FALLOUT: The explosion may create and disperse deadly radioactive dust. Hide from any air, dust or other material from outside. Do this even if you are far away, as fallout can travel far on wind. The radiation will only be 1% as strong after 2 weeks.

What to do now:

  • If the bomb has not hit and better shelter can be reached within a few minutes – such as a multi-story building, basement or underground subway – go there immediately. Otherwise shield inside the nearest building now.
  • If immediately available bring your pet, wallet, phone, as much water as you can easily carry, and a portable radio, if you have one.
  • 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. This could take minutes to reach you.
  • Never look at the blast. If you look at the blast you will go blind.
  • If immediately possible, set your bathtub to fill with water.
  • During the first few days, stay inside, sheltered away from fallout. Prevent any air/material coming inside. Turn off air conditioners and close up any ventilation.
  • Listen for and follow instructions of emergency response personnel. Those closest to the blast or downwind of fallout 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 after being outside:

  • Shower with soap carefully across your whole body using clean water
  • Wash/shave off all your hair to remove any fallout. Do not use conditioner as this binds radioactive material to the hair.
  • 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. They are radioactive. Do not allow any dust to get back on you from your clothes or otherwise.


If you are not under attack now, continue reading:

  • If nuclear weapons are being used somewhere else, please post this page on Facebook and Twitter right away to help your friends.
  • If you plan ahead now, or are far enough away, you could figure out if you are likely to be downwind of the fallout. If so, after the blast has passed you may consider escaping the fallout before it arrives, by travelling quickly away from the blast and/or at right angles 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. If you’re in or near a city the odds of getting trapped in traffic are high enough that this is unlikely to be your best option.
  • 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. Examples:
    • Crank radio/flashlight/charger
    • 7-gallon water jug
    • Emergency blankets
    • Potassium iodide
    • Extras of canned or packaged food, can opener, peanut butter, or a meal substitute like Soylent
    • Medications you need
  • 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 central area of middle floors in a high-rise building.
  • If you are caught in your vehicle during an attack, quickly assess whether there are any locations with 5 minutes that offer protection from the blast. Highway/railway bridges, tunnels, large buildings, and cliff-sides are among the best options. If you can’t find any, turn the car in such a way that the densest part of it (usually the front where the engine sits) is facing the blast, then lie down flat on the floor. Wait for the blast wave – not the initial flash of light – to pass you and then immediately seek better shelter.

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This website was first created in late 2017 to provide fast advice for people in major cities who are figuring out what to do once nuclear weapons have already been launched, and they have under 10 minutes to act.

It was particularly written for people in San Francisco, which was a target city for new North Korean nuclear missiles at the time. But it should be relevant to a much wider range of people.

Please suggest improvements here.

This site is non-commercial – it is paid for by me as a public service.

Last updated: February 2019.