Nuclear War Won’t Be Like Hollywood Portrays It- Part 2, by 3ADscout

If you believe the Hollywood hype, you are probably like many people (prepper or not) who don’t even bother to prepare for nuclear attack and hope that you go quick if it happens. Yet, with some basic knowledge and pre-planning, you can survive. We are taking a look at what is required to do this. In part 1, radiation basics and principles of protection were discussed as well as the importance of location. Let’s continue to discuss what can be done to prepare for survival.

Home Construction

Your home should also have been built after 1946. This is because home construction techniques before 1946 did not physically attach the home to the basement walls; thus, a powerful wind, blast, or even an earthquake can move the home off its basement foundation.

It is not desirable for your home to have been built with the newer, light-weight construction products/techniques of today and the past decade. Homes/buildings built with the light-weight construction are not built to survive anything except “normal” conditions.

Complete Loss of Home Built With OSB Board and Glue

I was talking to a local fire chief who responded to a small kitchen fire in a very new house. He was shocked to see the whole house being totally torn down several days later. He stopped and talked to the home owner who said that the insurance company deemed it a complete loss due to the smoke and water damage, the water damage being the the major issue. The home was less than 10 years old and built with lots of OSB board and glue.

Blinding Flash and Heat

Besides the blast, you may also have to contend with the blinding flash from detonation. People out to 13 miles away in daylight can suffer from “flash blindness”. The range at night can reach almost 53 miles, depending upon cloud conditions.

Along with the flash is the heat. Those inside the five mile radius of the blast that are not protected will suffer third degree burns. First degree burns can be expected to those unprotected out to about seven miles. However, something as simple as wearing dark clothes may increase your heat impacts, due to darker colors absorbing more heat.


There is also the initial radiation that is released from the bomb which is mostly in the form of gamma and some neutron rays within the first few minutes of the blast. After that, there is the residual radiation or fallout, which can be alpha, beta and/or gamma.

All Around Us in Our Everyday Lives

The average person understands little about radiation, thus it creates undue fear when people with no understanding think about it. Radiation is all around us in our everyday lives. We receive radiation from the sun. It’s emitted from rocks, et cetera. This is commonly referred to as “background radiation”.

Geiger Counters/Meters

Since radiation cannot be detected without meters, it is vital that your preps include metering devices– a Geiger counter. In our shelter area I keep a sticky note with the background level of radiation detected in the shelter area by one of our CDV-700 Geiger counters/meters.

CDV-700 Geiger Counter/Meter

This model (the CDV-700) has a silver probe, which is often referred to as a hot dog probe. It can detect lower levels of radiation (beta) and is the go-to meter to detect if someone is contaminated or clean. On my sticky note, I also wrote what meter it was taken with.


Some people get uptight about calibration; I don’t. If I know what meter and the background reading that that particular meter read, whether calibrated or not, and then fallout arrives, you will still be a able to ascertain how much fallout there is by taking the current meter reading and subtracting your original background reading. This also assumes that your meter is working.

Check Source Button

Many meters have a “check source” button on the side of the meter. The check source allows the operator to ensure that the meter is working. If your CDV-700 does not have a check source button, look for a set of white gas lantern mantels that still use thorium, which is slightly radioactive. Note that Coleman stopped using Thorium around the year 2000, but many other manufacturers still use thorium. The thorium in the mantels will be enough for the CDV-700 to start clicking with the “Hot Dog” probe shield open. To learn more on these meters look on YouTube, which is full of civil defense training films specifically on these models of meters.

CD-715 Meter

While the CDV-700 is good for detecting lower levels of radiation and for performing contamination surveys, you may also want to obtain a CD-715, which is for very high levels of radiation. Short of being down wind of a nuclear weapons blast, this meter is relatively useless.


The other metering you will need is dosimeters. There are several civil defense types, but you will need one for each person that read mili-roentgens (m/R) and one that reads roentgens. You will also need a charger to zero the dosimeters.

You should also have pre-printed dosimeter logs to log each person’s accumulated dose by writing down the dosage indicated on the dosimeter every day or two. I would also suggest that you include a dosimeter in your EDC as well, since you never know when you will need it. You will have to “zero” it every so often. If you are outside after a blast, the dosimeter will tell you how much dosage you received.


First, do not confuse a bomb shelter with a fallout shelter. Many people incorrectly use the terms interchangeably.

Bomb Shelter and Fallout Shelter Not the Same Thing

A bomb shelter and fallout shelter are not the same thing. A bomb shelter is constructed to protect against the effects of the weapon’s detonation, while a fallout shelter’s only purpose is to protect the occupants from radiation caused by a nuclear weapons fallout.

Fallout Shelters

There are many old civil defense films that are available on YouTube for free that cover how to build several types of fallout shelters. These include how to construct one in an existing basement and how to quickly make an improvised shelter.

The fallacy of the 1960’s fallout shelter program was that the shelters, in places like downtown New York, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, et cetera, were going to survive the blast and fire ball. With even larger megaton weapons, it is even more important that you live well outside any possible blast zones. I would also recommend that if you do live in one of America’s larger cities or near a military installation that you plan for a larger megaton device. The bigger the city or importance of the military installation, the bigger the yields of the bomb. You may also see two or more weapons targeting the area.

Shelter Living

Where you live will determine when you will probably be able to come out of you shelter. Two weeks is a good planning assumption. I would probably continue to sleep and live in my shelter area to reduce the more radiation exposure even after the two weeks, but security will still need to be provided.


Sanitation will be a key factor to ensure everyone stays healthy. Wet wipes can replace showers. The use of disposable plates, cups, et cetera will help cut down on having to clean dishes. Very tight-sealing garbage cans will be a must. A method for using the bathroom and disposing of waste is a must too.

Protect Elderly and Young From Radiation With Potassium Iodide or Liquid Iodine

Those who are elderly, have chronic medical conditions and the young (still growing) should also be less exposed to situations where they might receive higher than normal radiation doses. Potassium iodide tablets or liquid iodine, such as betadine, rubbed onto the surface of the stomach can protect one from thyroid cancer. Check a reputable medical website for more information.

Keep Busy Brushing Up On Skills, In Prayer, and Taking Inventory

Keeping busy for two weeks is often cited as an issue. Do not view this as down time but rather time for brushing up on skills, knowledge, just-in-time training, planning, and of course prayer. Everyone should know how to use and read the radiation metering, review first aid training, provide refresher training on sanitation practices, et cetera. Spend time taking a thorough inventory of equipment, supplies, and skills.

Tomorrow, I will talk about decontamination and more.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

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  1. How does Betadine get from the outside of your body into your thyroid gland? I have been a doctor for 40 years and never heard this. I am always anxious to learn new things. Is there a reputable source for this. How do your figure the dose? Your article is very good in every other respect . If this is true Betadine would be a very convenient source of thyroid protection.

    1. This is just a guess, but but anything put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream. I was poisoned once by spilling polyurethane onto my pants. I dried it up as best I could and continued to wear the pants while working. That evening the room was spinning. I realized something was very wrong and figured out it was the poly patch I had worn all day. From then on I realized anything you put on your skin goes internal. Think, makeup, sunscreen, deet, etc. if I won’t put it in my mouth, I won’t put it on my skin.

      1. False, otherwise a person would die after swimming in salt water. “Anything” that touches skin is not “directly absorbed into your bloodstream”. SOME chemicals are, most are not.

      2. Survivor man and Warren, I was a HazMat Tech for many years and there was a reason we wore Haz Mat suits. The outside layer of our skin has a layer of flattened dead skin cells surrounded by water-repelling lipids, this is why we don’t swell up like a sponge every time we take a bath or die while swimming in salt water. Many medicines are delivered through the skin in patch form, ointments, and gels, and are quite effective at delivering chemicals into our bodies. Personal care products can also be absorbed, take aluminum based antiperspirants and many sun screen products; not to mention DEET. Dermal absorption does vary depending on parts of the body exposed though.
        Hope this takes some of the worrisome ness out of my statement. This is also why many pools are switching from Chlorine and Bromine to the less toxic salt water pools.

    2. Doctor Larry: I am not a doctore, but I have seen actors portray doctors on TV.

      I have heard the same assertion about iodine topical application for thyroid loading, and didn’t heed it. But you’ve got me wondering.

      There is this link I found after digesting your posting here. I read the article, and given that you are an actual professional, would appreciate your comment here for our further edification.

      “Transcutaneous iodine absorption in adult patients….”

      In addition, some prepper fiction uses povidine capsules taken from a first aid kit that are opened and dumped into canteens for water purification. I’d be interested in hearing discussion of any impacts from that, from anyone caring to share.

      God Bless, and Joyous New year

    3. These 2 articles verify the effectiveness of using topical povidone iodine (betadine) to prevent uptake of radioactive iodine. Topical tincture of iodine also is effective. Regular consumption of seaweed or iodine via Lugol’s solution can also help. Do your research for doses of any non-topical iodine intake.

      Health Physics Vol. 49, No.5 (November), pp. 791-794, 1985
      Departments of Radiology and Comparative Medicine, The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA 17033
      Abstract-Radioisotopes ofl pose an important health risk to man in nuclear accidents associated with electric power generation due to their uptake by the thyroid glands. Topical application of tincture of I or povidone-iodine to the skin of rats has been found to be as effective as oral administration of potassium iodide in blocking thyroid uptake of parenterally administered 131 1. If the same effectiveness can be demonstrated in humans, this may be an attractive alternative method of mass protection from radioisotopes of I following nuclear accidents.

      Health Physics Vol. 55, No. I (July), pp. 9-13, 1988
      Kathleen D. Moody, Kenneth L. Miller, William J. White,
      W. Jeffrey Hurst and C. Max Lang
      Departments of Comparative Medicine and Radiology, The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA 17033
      Abstract-Topical application of povidone I solution in dogs has been found to be effective in producing significant elevations in serum iodide concentrations within 2 h after application. Among dogs treated with this preparation 2 h before oral administration of 1311, significant thyroid blocking persisted for at least 72 h.

      1. Ki is the preferred method to saturate the thyroid, however I did mention the use of topical application for those with thyroid conditions. Below are some links. I am looking for my hard copy but I believe it already got packed up and moved to the BOL. I will try to remember to look for it when I go out next and scan it.

        Miller, K, Coen, P, White, W, Hurst, J, Achey, B, and Lang, M “Effectiveness of skin Absorption of Tincture of I in Blocking Radioiodine from the Human Thyroid Gland. Health Physics 56 (6): 911-914, 1989.

    1. What is it that you’re “just saying” with these links?

      A picture, like a map or a graph, has elements of deception and power to it. A picture is framed in a particular way that attempts to dictate what the person viewing that picture sees. We must also include and consider what is not framed in a picture, because when we do, the picture becomes more clear. This is what critical thinking is, and 3ADscout is doing a great job of that with this series of articles.

      Looking forward to tomorrow’s article!

  2. Most of what I’ve read says that because cancer of the thyroid is so long developing, doses of potassium iodide are essentially wasted on middle aged people or older and should be saved for children. Any thoughts?
    I much appreciate this series of articles.

    1. Yes. Older people are less susceptible to radiation induced cancer due to slower speed of cell division. They probably also drink less milk where radioactive iodine accumulates. More info:
      A large increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer has occurred among people who were young children and adolescents at the time of the accident and lived in the most contaminated areas of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Radioactive iodine was deposited in pastures eaten by cows who then concentrated it in their milk which was subsequently drunk by children. This was further exacerbated by a general iodine deficiency in the local diet causing more of the radioactive iodine to be accumulated in the thyroid. Since radioactive iodine is short lived, if people had stopped giving locally supplied contaminated milk to children for a few months following the accident, it is likely that most of the increase in radiation-induced thyroid cancer would not have resulted.
      The youngest children are most sensitive to radiation-induced carcinogenesis, and the minimal latent period for thyroid cancer development after exposure is as short as 4 yr.

    2. Yes the common research does point to that conclusion. If I didn’t have enough for the whole family, my kids they would certainly be the ones to get it. Also Ki can have rough effects on the elderly.

  3. Was in USAF in 1950’s and was on crew that was tasked to arm second strike aircraft from alternative bases, ie, former WW2 bases and civilian airfields, and we were taught that the big danger in the short run, was to treat the fallout like a toxic dust. 30 ren might not kill you, or even 100, but if you inhaled any fallout, then you would have direct contact with your lung tissue, alpha, beta, and gamma, damage, and a good possibility of major problems. Once the gamma ray burst, heat, and pressure wave pass, couple minutes max, you are dealing with physical objects that are contaminated and the secondary effects of that contamination While the protection from fallout and shelter is always the topic discussed, I have never understood the failure to address the problem of ingestion.

  4. Interesting, all metal will be contaminated, or was contaminated in previous blasts, including jewelry, stainless steel for knives forks spoons, aluminum and steel pots and pans. When all the trees die from radiation poisoning and you try to burn them to keep yourself warm you will be inhaling the smoke toxins, any cow, goat or breast milk will be contaminated, possibly a double walled cargo container filled with burnable fuel, metal shielded seeds and water, and a large supply of sacked garden soil would be a lifesaver. Personally I’d rather see the bright light and then Jesus. What comes after would be too horrible to contemplate.

    1. Metal will be contaminated only if it has nuclear fallout particles on it. The x-ray table in a doctor’s office is not contaminated by the radiation used to produce x-rays.

      1. Contaminated metal can be washed off. Neutrons are emitted in the initial explosion and can activate or make radioactive some metal atoms. These atoms will remain radioactive for a time determined by its half life. Distance and humidity will greatly decrease its effect.

        1. Yes, contaminated metal can be washed off, as should everything possible on which fallout lands. Thus the reason for decontamination shower units.

          Tell me if I am wrong, but I suspect that any metal that becomes radioactive due to the initial explosion, if that happens, would be so close to the epicenter as to be a No Man’s Land that no one could enter (due to the high level of radioactive contamination in general) and survive in the period following an explosion.

    2. Ozzy Man,

      “Time is the only foe we have” – Thank God for the Bomb

      I think what everyone forgets is that we are exposed to radiation all the time and it has impacted the DNA of living things for years. Low doses over a long period are bad for DNA but probably won’t kill you, unlike a high dose over a quick time. We have all probably consumed something water or food that has elevated levels of radiation from Chernobyl and/or Fukushima. Again we all aren’t dropping dead. One of the principals of radiation protection is ALARA- or As Low As reasonably Achievable. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be exposed to ANY radiation. Would I have sacks of garden soil stocked no, might I tarp my raised beds yes.

  5. Sorry to post twice here, but the article here discusses modern home construction, as affecting durability. One thing experienced firefighters know is the propensity for modern roof trusses to fall to pieces when heat from fires is applied to them. The stamped-in metal pieces holding the two-bys together get hot and pop right off and roofs collapse, so firefighters are very reluctant to go on those roofs. Insurance companies seem to know about the modern truss construction too.

    Gussets are the way to build trusses. One of our buildings had gussets (sawn triangles of plywood cut and formed to overlap each place where three pieces of the truss came together), on each side of the junction, effectively sandwiching each junction between them and then each gusset was nailed onto each piece of truss. Likewise at each junction where the truss rafter joined the collar tie.

    There were hundreds of gussets in our 24 by 32 foot garage. That roof was practically hurricane proof. It was built by the owner who cared. The little metal stamped in pieces on commercial trusses are emplaced by guys who get their check and go home, paid by companies who need to make a profit to survive.

    What’s holding your roof together?

    1. One option would be for an able-bodied home owner to pattern and cut his own 3/4″ plywood gusset plates and glue/screw them to the truss intersections that are already held together by the prefab metal gusset plates. A method of reinforcement that might be worthwhile for the roof system. However, that does not solve the problem of typical builder houses using 2×4 or 2×6 studs and OSB sheathing. There are much better ways to build residences than the century old construction methods still being employed.

  6. New American Standard Bible
    “Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.

  7. Reading these two articles I can’t help but think how most of the population stands no chance. They don’t have the knowledge or the resources (including the finances) to construct for themselves any realistic protection in anticipation of a nuke strike. OTOH, those idiots who caused such destruction are likely to be safely tucked away in a professionally designed and well stocked shelter paid for by those having no protection. Typical when considering the self-serving politicians and bureaucrats we suffer from.

  8. I highly recommend reading Nuclear War Survival Skills to really get a good background on this topic. The use of liquid iodine is discussed, as I remember, but not all iodine is the same. It’s in the book.

    Also, anywhere in the U.S. could be exposed to fallout depending on targets and upper level wind patterns. As such, a good HIGH RANGE fallout meter is essential. The CDV 700 is the meter that will be useless as it measures only up to 50 milliRoentgens and will saturate at one one Roentgen and give a false low reading. It was designed for in-shelter decontamination and training. It’s also possible that in-shelter dose rates will be above one Roentgen an hour hence making the CDV-700 of little use until fallout rates decline. A recently calibrated CDV 715 or similar high range survey meter is what is needed. (In my past life as a first responder I served as my county’s radiological defense officer for a number of years).

    1. The nuclear bomb test that went wrong in Utah in the 1950’s dropped radiation onto Troy, NY.

      I agree about needing both kinds of meters, no matter where you live.

  9. Les your comments are spot on. It a function of one’s wealth and ability to work far away from cities that can afford a fallout/ survival shelter.

    Most people work in cities for the obvious reason, it’s where they find work. And these people represent 3/4 of Americans if not more.

    Also, let’s examine the scope of an attack. Russia has over 7,000 warheads and if they used just 1000 of them, how much would be left of the US? And if it is an all out nuclear war, Russia might use 3,500 nukes.

    I think people will die not of radiation but by the actual blast and than lack of food.

  10. on the up side…. iodine 131 has a half life of about 8 days. which means after about 2 months, it should no longer be a major concern.
    now cesium137, with a 30 year half life…..

  11. A CD-715 high radiation meter is most critical in the first hours or days to determine the safest areas or to build up areas that need to be, but will become much less usable as radiation subsides. The CD-700 low radiation Geiger counter is not useful initially except to check new entrants for contamination, but becomes increasingly useful to check for low levels on food cans, etc.
    Get 1 or 2 CD-715’s first as they are absolutely necessary initially. And they are cheap – $25-$50 each but they can go bad so a backup is good. One CD-700 should be enough. One dosimeter charger and a few dosimeters should complete your package.

  12. So, essentially; an enemy who desires to really create havoc – merely waits two weeks after his initial nuclear shots; then re-directs his fire at areas already hit, in order to cause those who prepped for a two week shelter emplacement to be forced to stay below even longer. Using up storage foods and misc. supplies by even the well-prepared folks. Deliberate evil is what you must expect, plus random as well. No enemy troops will arrive in your A.O. for months, if not years – it is the destruction of America desired, not her surrender. יהוה tells us to “fear not” because He is with us. Even though we shall die, we shall Praise His Name!

  13. I don’t expect our enemies to ever nuke us simply because of the fact that they too would be in danger when they decided to land their troops on our shores. An EMP would be their weapon of choice. At least I hope so.

  14. I would agree that an EMP would be the cheapest, and most effecient way of taking out the U.S. and would a first cause the most confusion among the people. The die off would soon occur, through the lack of communications, (transportation, mail, Ups, etc). People like me who depend on meds to keep us alive or at least comfortable would die off fairly quickly. In a way it would be merciful.
    It is interesting though, that even the great knowledge, and preparations many of us make, we may not be around to enjoy the fruits of our preps anyway. I praise the Lord that what I have set aside will be useful to my family and friends. Hopefully not to my enemies.
    The best things we have to offer of our lives may be the fore thought we put into prepping not for ourselves, but for our family and friends. We can only hope they will use those preparations wisely. Hopefully those we leave behind will receive the gift of our knowledge before our demise.
    Blessings to His Kids.

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