Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Discuss those "what if" or "what would you do" scenarios you've been wondering about.

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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Griffworks » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:08 pm

I take my BOB everytime I journey further than 100 miles from home. My EDC/GHB goes with me every time I'm further than 10 miles from home. I carry my CCW every where I'm legal to carry it and Arkansas enjoys reciprocity with 38 other states in our Republic, so there aren't many trips I take where I can't bring my CCW with me. Whenever we take a family trip up to see my folks, every firearm in the house travels with us - which isn't all that many, really, as I don't have very many - several pistols, a shotgun and a trusty Mosin-Nagant. I don't fly much of anywhere, preferring to drive and have access to my firearms w/o being limited. Plus, I like to drive.

So, it's not at all far-fetched for many of us to have a decent amount of gear on us. My gas mask stays at home the vast majority of the time, however. :P
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Trent » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:53 pm

Thanks for the information, guys. A few further questions:

1. On the subject of the radioactive dust and alpha particles, could a dust/respirator/N95 mask provide much protection against the smaller particles?

2. Would automobiles, firearms, cans, jewelry, and other metallic objects really become dangerously radioactive, and stay that way? (Meaning you'd have to dump any such gear you escaped the immediate danger zone)

3. How are bodies of water affected by fallout? In post-apocalyptic video games, standing water is often portrayed as dangerous much longer than the surrounding air and earth. I wouldn't want to wash off a severe burn only to contaminate myself further.

4. What kinds of food and other supplies from the fallout area would be safe to consume? Would unopened bottles of water be safe, at least temporarily?

5. Would you treat thermal burns from a nuclear blast any differently than a regular burn?

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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Tater Raider » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:18 pm

Not an expert at all, but as best I understand things:
  1. Yes, but the amount of protection depends on exposure and how often you change the mask/filters.
  2. Depends on exposure and how quickly you wash it - gotta get the fallout off to even attempt to decontaminate and dust gets everywhere. Even driving through a radioactive area long after the nuclear explosion will get dust on the vehicle and contaminate it.
  3. It's more dangerous because it's injested.
  4. No. If it's in the area and not sheltered it's contaminated.
  5. The thermal burn itself, slightly - you want to decontaminate it. You also have to treat for radiation sickness.
Look at it like this: you can't see it, smell it, or taste it and if it don't kill you outright it can and will lead to birth defects and cancer and shorten your life. How much risk are you willing to take?

Me? I'm 41 and smoke, already had my kids, can't have more, so I'd be the guy to go ahead and allow more exposure. Kids and pregnant women should get as close to 0 exposure as you can manage. None of the above questions about "is this safe?" are risks I'd be comfortable allowing either to take.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:19 pm

Browning 35 wrote:
Vicarious_Lee wrote:I'm almost certain one of those disfigured pictures is a Thalidomide baby, drawing into question the validity of all the others.
I'm not familiar with that particular disorder, but is it caused in part by the mother being exposed to excessive amounts of radiation?

Or is it compete bullshit and it has nothing at all to do with that whatsoever?

Edit : Nevermind. Looked it up, it's a drug some women took in the late 50's and early 60's to try to combat morning sickness that was linked to severe birth defects. Doesn't have anything to do with radiation that I can tell from reading a short article on it.
Yeah on second glance, none of those except for the top picture, look like they have much, if anything, to do with fallout. I see some birth defects, hydrocephalus, and it looks like either a completely neglected form of basal cell carcinoma or aggressive melanoma on top of that guy's head. Okay, technically those are from radiation, but usually long-term sun damage.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Belair56 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:53 pm

Trent wrote:Thanks for the information, guys. A few further questions:

1. On the subject of the radioactive dust and alpha particles, could a dust/respirator/N95 mask provide much protection against the smaller particles?

2. Would automobiles, firearms, cans, jewelry, and other metallic objects really become dangerously radioactive, and stay that way? (Meaning you'd have to dump any such gear you escaped the immediate danger zone)

3. How are bodies of water affected by fallout? In post-apocalyptic video games, standing water is often portrayed as dangerous much longer than the surrounding air and earth. I wouldn't want to wash off a severe burn only to contaminate myself further.

4. What kinds of food and other supplies from the fallout area would be safe to consume? Would unopened bottles of water be safe, at least temporarily?

5. Would you treat thermal burns from a nuclear blast any differently than a regular burn?
Number 2, In Chernobyl the vehicles are still there because the metal "Stores" the contaminates Check it out on Youtube.

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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Browning 35 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:30 pm

Vicarious_Lee wrote:Yeah on second glance, none of those except for the top picture, look like they have much, if anything, to do with fallout. I see some birth defects, hydrocephalus, and it looks like either a completely neglected form of basal cell carcinoma or aggressive melanoma on top of that guy's head. Okay, technically those are from radiation, but usually long-term sun damage.
Well since other than the nuclear accidents in Chernobyl, Ukraine and Fukushima, Japan the last large nuclear incidents that I'm aware of were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII. Not many in color shocking pictures of those last two, so maybe the person who cobbled those pics together just went for in-your-face shock effect rather than accuracy.

I dunno, just a guess.

Most of the articles I've read on this sort of thing has been very dry with very few actual photographs. If there was any sort of illustrations period except for the obligatory pics of people in radiation moon suits it was usually some sort of pop-art of graphs showing missiles striking or how nuclear reactors work/meltdown.

Come to think of it Japan has had some shitty luck with nukes/radiation, why aren't more of those people Japanese?
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Tater Raider » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:24 pm

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200m from Ground Zero, Hiroshima.

The shadow was once a person sitting on the step. Hiroshima was 16 kilotons.

US missiles (open source citation: wiki) are 100+ kt.

Tsar Bomba (largest nuclear weapon ever tested - that the public is aware of) was 50,000 kt and was theoretically capable of 100,000 kt.


Information (open source again) on human exposure to nuclear detonation and fallout can be had at the following elegantly handcrafted link.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by iron_angel » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:49 am

Trent wrote:Thanks for the information, guys. A few further questions:

1. On the subject of the radioactive dust and alpha particles, could a dust/respirator/N95 mask provide much protection against the smaller particles?

2. Would automobiles, firearms, cans, jewelry, and other metallic objects really become dangerously radioactive, and stay that way? (Meaning you'd have to dump any such gear you escaped the immediate danger zone)

3. How are bodies of water affected by fallout? In post-apocalyptic video games, standing water is often portrayed as dangerous much longer than the surrounding air and earth. I wouldn't want to wash off a severe burn only to contaminate myself further.

4. What kinds of food and other supplies from the fallout area would be safe to consume? Would unopened bottles of water be safe, at least temporarily?

5. Would you treat thermal burns from a nuclear blast any differently than a regular burn?
For number one - a respirator would help, at least somewhat. Note that the "particle" in 'alpha particle' and in 'dust particle' don't mean the same thing. An alpha particle is a helium nucleus moving at a not-insignificant fraction of the speed of light. At this scale, mechanical filtration is meaningless, though most anything serves as useful shielding against alpha particle radiation. Radioactive dust particles (which may emit alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays) can be filtered out. An N95 mask isn't the best thing for this, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing.

To clarify a bit on number 2 - there are two ways in which objects can become radioactive. One is to become covered in radioactive dust. This is bad, and doubly bad because you can inhale or ingest this dust, making alpha and beta emitting isotopes much more dangerous than they'd be if they stayed external. However, this kind of contamination can be removed. That would be a question of weighing relative risks of the contamination versus losing the gear, which is a rather nuanced topic. The other issue is neutron activation. This happens when neutrons strike the nuclei of otherwise stable elements, converting them to other isotopes (which are usually radioactive). Now probably, if there's enough neutron flux to activate the materials in your gear, there's enough neutron flux to seriously hurt you directly. Where this might be an issue is in things you find closer to ground zero. That said, if your gear does get neutron-activated, and you somehow don't die, that gear is skunked. You can't decontaminate it, only wait for the unstable isotopes to decay. Equally bad, once they do, they're different elements, which has all kinds of evil effects on mechanical properties and worse ones on chemical properties. Even the stuff that's not affected by that may still suffer from neutron embrittlement. Neutron radiation is supremely bad news. (*)

For 3, water may stay dangerous because it dissolves radioactive elements, thus making them easier to ingest or inhale. If you're just standing next to it, both contaminated earth and water are about equally bad (both block most of the alpha and beta and almost none of the gamma), but contaminated water is probably more dangerous to people. (Just not in the way that video games portray). Note that water *can*, theoretically, be neutron-activated. Hydrogen is a pretty good neutron absorber. That said, it has to absorb two before becoming radioactive, since hydrogen with one neutron is a stable isotope. (Yes, a small percentage of it is deuterium already and an even smaller portion is already tritium. We can safely ignore that.)

For four - Food I wouldn't touch unless it's hermetically sealed and it's nowhere near ground zero. Water likewise. Now if it *is* sealed, then you can decontaminate the package and it'd probably still be mostly OK, unless there are issues with neutron activation. (Hence the 'nowhere near ground zero' caveat). Now, it's still risky, and I wouldn't do it if I had any other option, but radioactive dust doesn't magically teleport into sealed containers - as long as they really are still sealed. (airtight, dust-tight seals are needed.) Neutrons, on the other hand, penetrate just about friggin' anything, turning it into a beta-emitting mess. If you even suspect neutron activation, don't frak with it.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by agrippakc » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:20 am

A one megaton nuclear bomb, which would be really impressive for a home build and so,so for a regular warhead; would typically have an effective blast radius of around 3-5 miles depending on some variables. However the fallout from a ground detonatonation would put the fallout from a Kansas city blast scattered between there and parts of Pennsylvania. Its why I live West of the city 20 miles from downtown, drive an emp proof vehicle, and own a survey meter with badges. With the survey meter we measured the fallout from the Japanese reactor in Kansas and was able to measure the radiation I absorbed.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by mariposa » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:28 pm

Vicarious_Lee wrote:I'm almost certain one of those disfigured pictures is a Thalidomide baby, drawing into question the validity of all the others.
I had the same thought about the one in the lower-right corner.

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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by sheddi » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:39 pm

Griffworks wrote:
DarkAxel wrote: >SNIPPERINO!<
What would I do given the OP? Bug out against the prevailing winds.
^This!^

Presuming I'm in a hotel room outside of my home town and not at home, anyhow. If I'm at home, it'll take me a lil' longer, but

If the windows are intact and I'm capable of seeing, then I'm far enough to not be in immediate danger. Grab my stuff and GTFOOD! I'd immediately try COMMS and get in touch w/Wife, let her know I was heading home as quick as I could or - if I were too far away to relatively quickly get home - to head to our BOL.

When leaving the hotel, head opposite of the winds, even if that means I have to circumvent the city and/or go out of my way by a hundred or so miles. Preferrably on wheels, as the Heel Toe Express ain't all it's cracked up to be, lemmetellya.
QFT.

Given the OP's scenario:
OP wrote:You're sitting in a hotel room or apartment on the outskirts of the state capital. All of a sudden, a piercing white light fills the room and everything begins to shake. A massive roar of noise fills the air, and you fall to the floor. Looking out a window, you see a mushroom cloud several miles away at the city center. The city has been hit by a nuclear weapon. You do not know if this is an isolated attack or part of a full scale nuclear war, but in either case you're in trouble.

To minimize your exposure to radiation, would it be best to barricade yourself in a deep, central room with no windows; or to immediately focus on getting out of the area?
... regardless of the size of the device, I'm far enough away that (a) I'm not burned to a crisp and (b) the hotel hasn't been seriously damaged. According to this handy calculator, for any credible nuke I'm therefore outside the radius for acute effects due to prompt radiation too. Any prompt radiation dose I was going to get, I've already had so there's no point worrying about that right now.

The only remaining thing to worry about is fallout. Which way is the wind blowing? If it's blowing the mushroom cloud away from me, I'll stay at my window videoing the event as something to show my grand-kids when they ask "Grandpa, what did you do during the Crisis of '12"? If the cloud is blowing towards me, on the other hand, I'll bug out across-wind as fast and as far as I can. If Ground Zero was five miles away and the wind's blowing at 20 mph, I've only 15 minutes until the first fallout arrives at my hotel and I really want to be somewhere else when that happens.

Once I've travelled crosswind far enough to be out from the track of the fallout plume, or if I''ve decided I'm safe and can stay put, I'll look at the bigger picture. Dig out my FM radio. Try the in-hotel TV (if I'm still there). What do the MSM and the Emergency Broadcast System have to say? Can I "phone a friend" and find out what's going on that way? Was it a single event? Have there been many detonations? Are they all off the air? Are the phones and SMS offline too?

- If it was a single event, phone or text home to let my family know I'm OK and that I'll be with them as soon as I can. If this was a business trip, tell them to call my employer and give them the same info (my employers like to know these things, and so do their underwriters).

- If there have been several detonations, check that I'm not under any new fallout plumes then call home as above.

In both these cases, if I can travel, I'll travel. If I arrived by road then I'll drive. If I came by public transport of some kind, it's likely that the system is going to be all snarled up and I'll have to wait it out or (if I'm lucky) find someone going my way that I can get a lift with. This isn't going to be easy in a strange city / state / country (delete as appropriate) during a time of crisis but if it was easy we wouldn't be talking about it here.

- If all broadcast comms are off the air, and the phones are out, it suggests that something serious is going down. Merde. I'm not in the habit of travelling with a CD V-700 so it's now a crap shoot really. If I can get hold of enough water (10 gallons should do it) (some calories would be a bonus) I could stay here in the hotel basement for a fortnight (by which time the Rule of Sevens predicts the fallout dose rate *everywhere* will be 1/1000th of what it is now) and hope I'm not eaten by radioactive zombies in the meantime, or I could get outta Dodge upwind now and hope I don't wander into anyone else's plume.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by finnman1 » Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:53 am

How far are the Alpha/Beta particles thrown at the initial blast? Only as far as the shockwave carries them?

Would it be safe to say if the shockwave stopped 500 yards before your motel and the 20 mile an hour wind that day was heading towards the blast, that you could jump ship in your car and high tail it? Or do the ALpha/Beta go as far as land permits, not the actual blast force?
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by Evan the Diplomat » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:11 am

Vicarious_Lee wrote:I'm almost certain one of those disfigured pictures is a Thalidomide baby, drawing into question the validity of all the others.
They joy of Photoshop and other forms of misrepresentation from the Interwebz.

Tineye.com is often useful for sniffing out fake or recycled photos.
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Re: Outskirts of Nuclear Strike- Flee or Stay?

Post by sheddi » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:21 am

finnman1 wrote:How far are the Alpha/Beta particles thrown at the initial blast? Only as far as the shockwave carries them?

Would it be safe to say if the shockwave stopped 500 yards before your motel and the 20 mile an hour wind that day was heading towards the blast, that you could jump ship in your car and high tail it? Or do the ALpha/Beta go as far as land permits, not the actual blast force?
The particles themselves only travel a very small distance before becoming harmless. Alpha particles might travel an inch in air, beta particles a few feet.

The problem is that the fallout contains radioactive materials that go on producing alpha, beta and gamma particles long after the explosion has passed. These are sucked into the air by the fireball and are deposited - literally "fall out" of the air - for tens/hundreds of miles downwind. (Have a big enough bomb, and sensitive enough detection equipment, and you'll find the fallout all over the globe, mostly in insignificantly small quantities.)
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