How To Survive Nuclear Fallout: Prepare and Be Ready

how to survive nuclear fallout

The recent events of Russia invading Ukraine has many people on high alert for World War III, which could inevitably lead to Nuclear war. So knowing how to survive nuclear fallout is a set of skills worth freshening up on.

The problem with surviving a nuclear blast is that it can kill you in multiple ways. Unlike a traditional bomb, a nuclear bomb can harm you after the initial explosion and debris have settled with radiation. 

As we continue, we will discuss the Nuclear War preparations we all should make to have the best chance of surviving this disaster. 

How Does Nuclear Fallout Affect The Body?

Knowing how to survive nuclear fallout means you must understand how it affects the human body. The amount of radiation you receive will often determine the symptoms you experience. 

We all experience low levels of radiation from the sun and our surrounding environment. These rarely affect our body, besides the occasional sunburn. 

However, if you were to experience a mild amount of nuclear fallout, you would get a fever, severe headache, and experience vomiting. 

Receiving high levels of nuclear fallout is deadly because it will severally damage vital organs.

Thankfully, proper preparation for nuclear war can help us limit exposure to radiation from nuclear fallout, which will give us a higher chance of survival.

How To Prep For Nuclear War

Having an SHTF plan and making preparations is always best, but what preparations will be most helpful? 

Knowing what supplies you should have on hand, where the safest places in America from nuclear war are, and what to do in the event of a nuclear attack if you can’t get to the safest places will all increase your chance of survival. 

What Types Of Things Do You Need?

For starters, you need the basics of survival like 

  • Food
  • Water
  • And shelter


For food, you can use sealed products like MREs. Initially, I would be leery of eating wildlife and plants that might have been exposed to the radiation. If they were exposed to a high enough level of nuclear fallout, they would die, but it might take a while for them to succumb to the radiation. 


Having a stockpile of bottled water is the best solution because the packaging will help prevent radiation from entering the water. If you believe the package was exposed to radiation, wipe it off with a damp towel before touching it and then seal the wet towel and store it in a place that is safe and out of the way. 

You can use tap water for cleaning even if it’s contaminated because the radiation will be diluted to non-harmful levels. However, scientists recommend not drinking water that has been exposed to radiation.


An underground bunker is the safest shelter from nuclear war, but very few of us have the financial and land resources to install one. So instead, start with what you have. Your house will generally be a safe place, as long as it’s not in the immediate blast radius.

Buildings with thick concrete or brick walls provide the most protection from radiation. We will shortly discuss this in more detail.

The CDC is an excellent resource if you have other questions or concerns regarding radiation in food and water.

Those are the basics of survival, but what else could you include in your nuclear survival kit list that would increase your survival rate? 

  • Change of clothes and towels
  • A hazmat suit and mask
  • Community
  • Hand crank radio
  • Weapon

Extra Clothes And Towels

Having an extra change of clothes and towels will be highly beneficial if you are forced to go outside before the nuclear fallout settling. You can remove your outer layer of clothes and dispose of them, so you don’t keep exposing yourself and others to the radiation that has settled on your clothes.

You can use a damp towel to wipe yourself down or breathe through to lessen the effects of nuclear fallout.

Hazmat Suit And Mask

The ideal items would be a Hazmat suit and mask. While they aren’t intended for extended use, they effectively reduce radiation exposure for short periods if you must go outside. They’re not cheap or practical until you need them, then you’ll be thankful you had them.


This might sound a little counterintuitive. If we build a community, we will have more mouths to feed and people for which to care. However, humans crave community, and as we have discovered from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to have other people in our lives.

Creating a prepping community doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. It can be as simple as connecting with another prepper family. Not only can you share resources and knowledge, but it’s also nice to have others to which to talk.

Hand Crank Radio

If a nuclear war were to break out, then the likelihood of an EMP drastically increases, which will destroy most modern electronics. You will need a way to keep in touch with the outside world, and a hand-crank radio is one possibility. 

Getting news and updates on what’s happening could be crucial to your survival.


Having a weapon for self-defense or hunting will drastically increase the likelihood of surviving. Humans have used various weapons for thousands of years. Just because radiation is involved doesn’t mean you won’t need a bow or gun to protect yourself from other people, animals, or to use to hunt for food.

Where To Go If You Can Leave?

Getting as far away as possible from the places most likely to be attacked is the best plan of action. Densely populated areas, military bases, and power plants will be popular targets, so stay away from these locations.

The safest places in America from nuclear war are sparsely populated areas that most people see as wasteland. Even moving into the suburbs of a large city will slightly increase your chances of surviving a nuclear attack because you will most likely be farther away from the blast radius. 

Having a location off the beaten path with food, water, shelter, and other survival supplies is best if you know an attack is coming and have time to leave.

What To Do If You Can’t Leave? 

If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t escape, you’re not doomed to die. There are steps you can take to increase the likelihood of your survival. 

The first thing you should do is get inside a concrete or brick building. Head to the basement or center of the building away from the doors and windows. The more layers of protection you can put between yourself and the blast and fallout, the better.

If you happen to get caught outside after the nuclear blast, get inside as soon as possible, take off your outer clothes that have been exposed, and wash your exposed skin to help lessen the effects of the radiation. 

A car is not a safe place to stay. They do not protect against nuclear fallout, so don’t try to drive away or hunker down in a vehicle.

You can think of radiation as dust in the air, it will slowly begin to settle, but it could be carried in the air for miles before that happens.

If You Survive The Initial Blast, How Long Should You Wait Before Going Outside?

Say you managed to survive the blast and are safe inside a solid shelter with no symptoms of radiation poisoning. How long do you need to wait before it’s safe to go outside? Most experts agree that after 24 hours, most of the radiation has settled.

However, it will have settled on the ground, so don’t go around picking up debris or rolling around on the floor. 

So to be safe, waiting 48 hours before going outside is highly recommended, and remember the debris will still not be safe to handle with bare skin. Wearing a Hazmat suit, gloves, and mask will protect you the best. However, if you don’t have access to these items, layer up and cover all exposed skin. 

Types Of Bombs And Their Levels Of Destruction

There are several sizes of nuclear bombs that are potential threats. Some can be carried in a suitcase, while others are dropped from a plane or attached to a missile. We will discuss a few of them.

Hiroshima- Little Boy

This atomic bomb dropped by the US military on Hiroshima was equivalent in force to 12,000 to 15,000 tons of dynamite and completely wiped out an area with a radius of eight miles. The heat from the explosion was nearly equal to the temperature of the sun’s surface. 

Nagasaki- Fat Man

This atomic bomb was similar to the Little Boy bomb. Both bombs created catastrophic devastation to each city. However, the most surprising thing is that most people in both towns survived the bombings. 


One of the most powerful atom bombs ever detonated was the equivalent of 3,000 Little Boy bombs. If you were 65 miles away from the blast, you would have received third-degree burns.


It’s rumored that Russia has developed a torpedo that is twice as powerful as the TSAR BOMBA, which is terrifying. If that torpedo hit a major coastal US city like New York City, it’s believed that 8,000,000 people would die. 

While the US has big nuclear bombs of its own, not surprisingly, they’re not advertised. It is surprising that the US Government is more concerned with training its citizens and law enforcement agencies to prepare for smaller nuclear bomb attacks.

Improvised Nuclear Device

The average person is most likely to encounter a DIY nuclear bomb. This might sound strange and slightly hopeful, but even Improvised Nuclear Devices (IND) can produce the equivalent force of 10,000 tons of dynamite. This is equal to the bomb dropped in WWII on Hiroshima.

So even a small nuke is something with which to be concerned. However, it is more likely that you’ll survive that bomb than one from a modern, powerful military like Russia. 

Final Thoughts

Unless you’re within the initial blast radius, surviving a nuclear attack is possible, but you must know how to survive nuclear fallout if you want to live to tell the tale. 

This is best accomplished by being prepared and having a plan of what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. The good news is you’re already ahead of most people because you’re learning what to do ahead of time instead of trying to learn on the fly, as most people will in a catastrophic situation. 

Stay safe!