ABOUT NUCLEAR DISASTER
A nuclear blast, produced by
explosion of a nuclear bomb (sometimes called a nuclear detonation),
involves the joining or splitting of atoms (called fusion and fission)
to produce an intense pulse or wave of heat, light, air pressure, and
radiation. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, at the
end of World War II produced nuclear blasts.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE
- If you are near the blast when it occurs
- Turn away and close and cover your eyes to prevent damage to your sight.
- Drop to the ground face down and place your hands under your body.
- Remain flat until the heat and two shock waves have passed.
- If you are outside when the blast occurs
- Find something to cover your mouth and
nose, such as a scarf, handkerchief, or other cloth.
any dust from your clothes by brushing, shaking, and wiping in a
ventilated area, however, cover your mouth and nose while you do this.
- Move to a shelter, basement, or other
underground area, preferably located away from the direction that the
wind is blowing.
- Your community should have a plan in
place in case of a radiation emergency.
- Check with community leaders to learn
more about the plan and possible evacuation routes.
- Check with your child's school, the
nursing home of a family member, and your employer to see what their
plans are for dealing with a radiation emergency.
- Develop your own family emergency plan
so that every family member knows what to do.
- At home, put together an emergency kit
that would be appropriate for any emergency.
WHAT TO DO AFTER
- An extremely bright flash could indicate a nuclear detonation.
Many nuclear explosions have a "double flash" effect, and some
can glare for several seconds. Looking at a nuclear flash even
momentarily could cause blinding burns.
- Immediately "duck and cover": that is, get your head
down and try to find something to hide under that may protect you or
at least your head from collapsing walls and falling objects. Don't
wait for the sound of an explosion; the blast wave of an atomic
detonation expands at the speed of sound, and you may only have seconds
- The blast wave could take up to a minute to reach you. Wait twice
this long before assuming you are safe from the blast.
- Maintain your cover for several seconds after you feel an impact.
The blast may effect your location more than once as it reflects off of
hills or structures, and powerful wind gusts may be blow back towards
the explosion or swirl unpredictably.
- Our next concern should be fire. A nuclear flash can ignite fires
even in areas far enough away to escape the blast. Dark, flammable
surfaces facing the fireball are especially vulnerable, but all damaged
structures carry their own fire risks, especially from broken electrical
wiring or natural gas leaks. If you cannot be certain your structure is
not on fire or filling with gas, follow the evacuation procedure for
your location and get out immediately.
- Your next concern is fallout: highly radioactive dust or flakes
that will fall to the earth after the blast. This can start landing
within minutes and continue falling for hours, and can spread over many
miles. It will fall mostly in the immediate vicinity of the blast and in
the areas downwind of it. It may affect your area even if you felt
little or nothing of the blast, and can remain deadly for days or weeks.
As soon as safely possible, you will want to determine where you are in
relation to the blast and the direction of the wind.
- A mushroom cloud is an obvious clue to where a blast occurred,
but dust, smoke, or structures may obscure your view. In these cases,
look to fallen poles, trees, or signage. Most will have fallen in the
direction opposite the blast. You may also look for flash burn damage,
which would occur mostly on surfaces that had faced the explosion.