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Nuclear Survival Preparation: Overview ^ | October 8, 2001 | Philip L. Hoag

Posted on 10/08/2001 4:27:21 PM PDT by FresnoDA

Philip L. Hoag

A Nuclear Attack on the United States

"Only the offensive leads to the attainment of victory over the enemy. As a type of combat, the offensive has incontestable advantages over the defense. The attacker has broad capabilities for launching surprise strikes, for the rapid exploitation of the results of nuclear attacks…"
– Russian military strategist Col. Sidorenko

Due to the long arm of the intercontinental ballistic missile, the United States is no longer protected from her enemies by the vast expanse of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There have been three occasions since World War II when the U.S. has been on the verge of war with the Soviets as the result of a conflict involving third world countries. The first was the Cuban missile crisis, the second was involving the Middle East during the Seven-Days War, and the third was in 1990 when India and Pakistan were on the verge of war.

Prelude to a Russian Nuclear Attack


Suddenly, without warning, nuclear detonations occur simultaneously, high in the atmosphere over different sections of the North American continent and Western Europe. These detonations originate from pre-positioned orbiting satellites armed with atomic weapons.

These high altitude bursts do not affect the surface of the earth with any form of destructive heat, overpressure or radiation, but a phenomenon occurs which is called Electro Magnetic Pulse, or EMP The Electro Magnetic Pulse radiates out across North America and Western Europe, collecting on power transmission lines and communication antennas. For a fraction of a second, the EMP spikes the power grid and receiving antennas with a huge surge of voltage. In the process of seeking ground, this surge is so quick and great that it jumps across conventional surge protectors, lightning protection, and even open circuits where the power switches are turned off, burning out and rendering useless all sensitive electronics, computers and communication equipment.

Simultaneously, Soviet space-based weapon systems start decapitating U.S. reconnaissance satellites.

Confusion and Uncertainty

The confusion created by the disruption of the national communication network
is considerable. The destruction of the U.S. spy satellites blind U.S. intelligence analysts. Military intelligence agencies are not able to give the president a definitive answer as to what the Soviets are really doing.

While the Soviets are launching ICBMs at U.S. targets, the Soviet head of state calls the President of the United States on the hotline to apologetically inform him that there has been an accident in space. The Soviet leader explains that a reactor on their orbiting space station has exploded. Not wanting to be responsible for the start of World War III, the uncertain President ignores advice from his military advisers to launch our ICBMs at Soviet targets.

The President doesn’t have long to wait because Soviet submarines off the Atlantic coast launch ballistic missiles at Washington D.C. The time from launch to target impact is only three minutes. With the institution of a war alert, the president, his family and their Secret Service entourage are whisked away by helicopter. The helicopter is just crossing the Fairfax County line into Virginia when it is struck by the shock wave from one of the numerous airbursts over the nation’s capital. The aircraft instantly disintegrates with the wreckage scattering over a wide area of countryside.

Strategic Targets in the U.S.

In the United States there are about 6,000 primary targets. This includes military related targets that would be involved in the launch a retaliatory counterattack. The initial Soviet ICBM attack concentrates on these high priority first-strike targets which are critically important for a Soviet victory. These targets include: ICBM silos and launch centers, air force, navy and army facilities, key military support industries, command and control centers, and political infrastructures.

Once all the designated priority first-strike military targets are hit, satellite reconnaissance is used by the Soviet military staff to determine the effectiveness of target destruction. Then further strikes are initiated where the initial attack failed or destruction of a target was incomplete. When all the military targets are properly destroyed, the Soviet military staff concentrates their attack priority on industrial targets which support the military effort including key military support industries, port facilities, fuel refineries, fuel storage facilities, power generating plants, chemical plants and communication facilities.

Destruction of U.S. Targets

Without warning, a significant portion of our retaliatory force is destroyed before it is deployed. Our bombers, which comprise the air wing of our TRIAD, are all off alert due to presidential directive. Virtually all of them are destroyed in their hangers. Each U.S. ICBM missile silo is struck simultaneously with two ground-penetrating warheads. Massive amounts of soil is drawn up into the resulting mushroom clouds, producing radioactive fallout particles that are spread for hundreds of miles before settling to earth.

Ninety percent of U.S. ICBMs are destroyed in their silos by the first wave of missiles. The ten percent which escaped the first strike are successfully launched from their silos but most of these are intercepted by the Soviet antiballistic missile system. Those that penetrate Soviet defenses only inflict minimal damage, quantitatively speaking, to military targets. The Soviet population, due to their extensive civilian civil defense program, suffer negligible losses.

Soviet ICBMs with ground-burst weapons impact and destroy U.S. military runways and civilian airports capable of accommodating the emergency dispersal of military aircraft. Military bases and Naval facilities are struck by ICBMs with air-burst weapons. The explosion of these weapons produces no radioactive fallout but there is optimum destructive effect of surface structures due to the resulting massive wave of overpressure and the thermal effect of the fireball.

One-third to one-half of the 39 U.S. strategic submarine fleet is destroyed in port. Of the remaining 19 or 20 U.S. submarines, 10 will have to travel for two to five days in order to be within striking range of Soviet targets. The other 10 U.S. subs are within striking range of Russian targets and successfully launch their missiles. Again, those sub launched missiles that managed to penetrate the Soviet anti-ballistic missile defense system only inflict minimal damage, both to their targets and to the Soviet population due to civil-defense preparations. The other element which quickly comes into play are Russia’s 250 attack submarines, which in short order, decimate most surviving U.S. strategic submarines.

Meanwhile the Soviet strategic submarines are launching their missiles, which have greater range than those of their U.S. counterparts. The longer range missiles allow the Soviet subs to launch from protected waters. Thus it is very difficult for the surviving elements of the United States Navy to destroy much of the Soviet nuclear submarine fleet.

U.S. Casualties

Due to the lack of a U.S. anti-ballistic missile system and civil defense preparations, all missiles strike their appointed targets in the U.S., causing massive destruction and loss of life. The Soviet first strike has resulted in the destruction of most of the large cities in the United States. The Soviet nuclear attack on the U.S. produces about 67 million casualties due to the effects of the blast and high exposure to radiation. This represents about 25 percent of the population.

During the next two years another 121.5 million Americans starve to death, bringing the total U.S. casualties to about 188 million, or approximately 70 percent of the population. (Strategic and civil defense could have reduced U.S. fatalities to as little as 7,000). Russia lost no more than 5 percent of her population as a result of ICBMs which managed to get through the anti- ballistic missile system. Also, none of the Russian citizens starve following the war, thanks to the massive Soviet strategic grain reserves which had been purchased from the United States with credits from Western banks.

Little is left of U.S. nuclear forces to retaliate after the Soviet first strike. Damage to U.S. military command and control and communications links have further restricted an attempt to retaliate.

Soviet intelligence and Spetnaz teams, pre-positioned in the United States start implementing a pre-established plan to create confusion. Soviet agents have been monitoring the daily routines of key members of the military and civilian leadership for months. Simultaneously, Spetnaz teams begin assassinating these key leaders and anyone else who has the misfortune of being around or in the way.

Other teams have been assigned the task of disrupting communication, power transmission and transportation. Power transmission lines and generation facilities at key points are sabotaged. Key bridges on thoroughfares out of major cities and on the interstate highways are blown up.

Teams equipped with shoulder-fired missiles wait in ambush on a wooded hill adjacent to the government’s super secret Iron Mountain shelter complex in West Virginia. A few helicopters that managed to successfully escape Washington, D.C., are loaded with their cargo of Pentagon officials, congressmen and cabinet members. As the helicopters approach the seeming safety of Iron mountain, they are met by a crossfire of surface-to-air missiles.

The ensuing war is composed of many nuclear and non-nuclear battles which continue for two to four years. The war involves conventional forces both in Europe and an invasion of American soil.

The Continuing War

During this protracted combination nuclear-conventional war, chemical warfare is used by the Soviets as extensively as nuclear weapons. Approximately one-
third of the Soviet arsenal is composed of chemical weapons. The Soviets maintain chemical warfare units that have 80,000 to 100,000 well trained soldiers. Biological warfare is not used in conjunction with conventional Soviet troop operations because it is slow acting, difficult to control, and could thus endanger Soviet troops. Biological weapons are used very effectively to eliminate resistance in hostile areas not occupied or controlled by Soviet troops. The overall objective of the Soviet war effort is not to completely destroy the United States, but to take control of as many aspects of American society as possible.

Evidence supporting this mixture of nuclear and conventional warfare in a third world war is found in the Soviet book, Tactics and Combined Arms Combat, Moscow, Military Publishing House.

"It is believed that nuclear weapons as the main means of destruction will be deployed only for the destruction of the most important objectives; all other targets are neutralized and destroyed by artillery aviation and the fire of tanks and other weapons. Use of nuclear weapons against insignificant, secondary objectives contradicts the very nature of this weapon."

"Although the nuclear strike should be delivered at the beginning of the preparatory fire in order to achieve surprise, this should not be stereotyped. Nuclear weapons can also be employed in the middle, at the end, or at any other period of the preparatory fire."

"Nuclear strikes do not represent some kind of isolated act, but a component of combat. the operations of tank and motorized rifle are closely coordinated with them. Nuclear strikes and troop operations represent a uniform and inseparable process, joined by a common concept."

Invasion of the U.S. by Conventional Forces

This scenario of an extended war involving both conventional and nuclear forces
follows an overall Soviet strategy with the following objectives: destroy the most threatening enemy forces, destroy the main links and nodes in the national command and control authority, do not destroy large areas or create nuclear deserts, use minimum weapons yield to prevent target overkill, prepare to strike the most important targets twice, and do not attack and destroy all targets (because it is not possible or desirable).

This nuclear exchange is followed by an invasion of conventional forces involving sea and air battles, tanks, paratroopers and infantry. Airborne units strike across the Bering Sea and invade Alaska. With Nome, Prudhoe Bay, Fairbanks and Anchorage, the Soviets have secured the strategic oil reserves to support the ongoing war effort.

A combined sea, air and paratroop assault on Seattle, Tacoma, Victoria and Vancouver secures the port facilities and gains control of I-90 and I-5 North and South. The Soviets secure their beach-head in the Northwest.

Armored units begin moving east on I-90 to Ellensburg, Washington. At this point, part of the advancing force turns south on Interstate 82. The objective of this unit is to secure the chemical weapons storage at Umitila, the bridge over the Columbia River and the intersection of I-82 and I-84. Securing the intersection of Interstates 82 and 84 opens the back door to Portland. Military units move east on I-84 to flank resistance to a Soviet military push south from Seattle toward Portland and Longview down I-5.

From Ellensburg, military forces continue moving east to Vantage, securing another bridge over the Columbia River and opening the door for a push to Spokane.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, an invasion force from Cuba establishes a beachhead on the southern Florida coast. Communist forces pre-positioned in Mexico, move across the border into Texas. Elements of the Soviet Red Banner Fleet secure New Orleans. This establishes key access to the central U.S. up the Mississippi River. The Soviets also mount a land, air and sea attack to secure the St. Lawrence Seaway.

More Information On Nuclear War(information covered in book)

The Nuclear First Strike

Most Americans cannot fathom the possibility of an unprovoked strategic attack by the Soviets. Rejecting the possibility of nuclear war may be comforting and helpful for normal existence, but this societal self-delusion may prove a fatal liability.

In war, he who chooses the time and place of battle holds the best advantage for victory. Fighting on a proactive or offensive basis holds the greater advantage for victory. Fighting on a reactive or defensive basis is an encumbrance.

The purpose of launching a first strike on the United States would be to take advantage of the element of surprise and catch U.S. forces off guard. The Soviets have significant capability for a preemptive attack on the United States. The Soviets have concentrated their nuclear firepower into an enormous intercontinental ballistic missile force which is optimized for a first strike against the Unites States. The initial and primary objective would be to destroy the United States’ defensive and retaliatory capability. In theory, once adequate industrial targets were dispatched, population centers could be targeted at will until the U.S. government capitulated with an unconditional surrender.

The United States would never launch a preemptive attack on Russia because the U.S. is unprepared to deal with the resulting dire consequences. The United States has neither civil nor strategic defense and thus our civilian populations would be completely exposed to Soviet nuclear retaliation. Even if the U.S. possessed a national strategic defense system, the act of preparing for a nuclear first strike would require the movement of U.S. forces into battle positions and the necessary evacuation of civilians from metropolitan areas. These actions would tip the Soviets off and the attack would no longer be a surprise, unless there was a devious strategy employed to cover or justify such preparations.

On the other hand, Russia has both strategic and civil defense. In the event of a surprise attack, the Russians could quickly shelter a significant portion of their civilian population and neutralize most ICBM’s launched against Russian targets with their operational missile defense system.

The Old Doomsday Scenario (information covered in book)

Gradually Escalating War Scenario (information covered in book)

India-Pakistan Conflict and the F.E.M.A. Relocation Plan

F.E.M.A. has no contingency plans for sheltering the civilian population in the event of a surprise nuclear attack. Recent history has already shown that it is questionable that F.E.M.A. can or would start relocating civilians out of populated areas in the event of a gradually escalating scenario. Back in the 1990s, the United States experienced a gradually escalating war scenario with the Soviet Union over an imminent war between India and Pakistan.

Bush eventually managed to bring about a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but the public was never told that the U.S. and the Soviets were both on high alert. The F.E.M.A. policy of evacuating civilians out of metropolitan target areas was never implemented. Meanwhile, the United States and Soviet Union were both positioning strategic forces in preparation for a possible global conflict.

According to an Associated Press article which appeared in the March 22, 1993 edition of the Great Falls Tribune, "The world was on the edge of a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan in early 1990 because of the tug-of-war over Kashmir." Senior intelligence officials referred to this showdown in the spring of 1990 as "the most dangerous nuclear confrontation of the postwar era." The article went on to explain that, "the Bush administration kept the conflict secret, failing even to disclose it to key members of Congress… The nuclear confrontation was defused by the intervention of President Bush’s personal envoy, who was sent to India and Pakistan to negotiate a standdown between the two countries."

Government Warning in the Event of a Nuclear Attack?

The next logical question is would the government alert the public if the Soviets launched ICBMs at the U.S.? Probably not! The reason I say this is that a last minute alert probably would not save many lives. An alert would cause immediate civil disorder and gridlock on the highways out of the major cities. The other reason not to alert the public is that there is no public shelter system for them to run to.

The Effects of Nuclear War

The reason for nuclear weapons is economics. Not only do they give the best punch per dollar, but they also produce the greatest destructive force per volume and weight. When considering the deployment and delivery of a weapon with a missile, this becomes an obvious and significant factor. The destructive force of a nuclear weapon is thousands of times greater than a conventional weapon of similar size and weight. It takes about 110 pounds of uranium for a fission reaction which releases the same amount of energy as the explosion of one million tons (one megaton) of TNT.

Nuclear energy is the energy contained in the center of the nucleus of an atom. When the nucleus is altered, this energy is released.

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear fission is the release of energy through the splitting of the nucleus. When the nucleus is split, most of the protons and neutrons are released and form into lighter nuclei. Several neutrons are released along with a great deal of energy. These released neutrons strike other adjacent nuclei, splitting them and releasing more electrons and neutrons. These neutrons in turn produce still more fission, and a chain reaction quickly builds into a nuclear chain reaction. In order for the process of a nuclear chain reaction to occur, a substance is required that will easily undergo fission. Certain forms of uranium and plutonium, such as uranium 235 and
plutonium 239, will do this and will support a chain reaction. Thus, uranium 235 and
plutonium 239 are referred to as fissionable materials.

Fission Weapons

Fission weapons, which are also called atomic weapons, make use of this nuclear fission to produce an explosion. A chain reaction occurs whereby many nuclei simultaneously split, thus releasing an enormous amount of energy.

A fission bomb contains a quantity of conventional explosive. The detonation of the bomb is started off by an explosion of the conventional explosive that pushes two pieces of fissionable material together with great force. This starts the chain reaction which is completed in less than a millionth of a second. The result is the release of
vast amounts of energy and an enormous explosion.


Fusion is the exact opposite of fission. In nuclear fusion, the nucleus is not split. Nuclear fusion results from the forceful joining of two hydrogen nuclei. Given the same amount of nuclear material, fusion results in an energy release far greater than fission, but fusion is far more difficult to achieve.

Fusion Weapons

Fusion bombs are often called hydrogen bombs because they depend on the fusion of many hydrogen nuclei, specifically deuterium and tritium (which are both isotopes, or forms, of hydrogen). Deuterium and tritium are the essential materials used in a fusion weapon because they undergo fusion more readily than common hydrogen. In order to facilitate fusion, hydrogen nuclei must be confined and heated to temperatures of millions of degrees. For this reason, fusion weapons are also referred to as thermonuclear weapons.

The conventional explosives used to trigger atomic bombs are not powerful enough to set off a thermonuclear fusion explosion. The detonation of a fusion weapon begins with the detonation of a conventional explosive that sets off a fission reaction explosion. The explosion produces extremely high temperatures and pressures which cause the deuterium and tritium nuclei to fuse almost instantaneously, resulting in a massive explosion.

Comparative Effects of Different Sized Nuclear Weapons

The amount of energy released by a nuclear weapon is referred to as its yield. The power of a nuclear weapon is expressed in terms of its relationship to equivalent power released in the detonation of tons of TNT. A one-megaton weapon equals the effect of one million tons of TNT. A one-kiloton weapon is equivalent, in energy released, to 1,000 tons of TNT. It should be noted that one large nuclear weapon is not as effective as numerous small nuclear weapons. For example, a ten-megaton weapon is ten times larger than a one-megaton weapon, but the effective destruction capability of a ten megaton weapon is only twice that of a one-megaton weapon. In essence, ten one-megaton weapons would have five times more destructive effect than one ten-megaton weapon. The larger warheads are more fragile than smaller warheads. The other issue involved is the fact that the pinpoint accuracy of a warhead is dependent on a high speed when entering the atmosphere. Due to their size, the larger warheads are slower and thus less accurate. For the most part, the largest weapons in the U.S. and Soviet nuclear stockpiles are one megaton and the bulk are kiloton weapons. The Soviets do have some SS18 missiles with single, large warheads which they probably maintain for special

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Tactical nuclear weapons have much shorter ranges and much lower yields than conventional nuclear weapons delivered by ICBMs. They are mostly battlefield weapons, such as antiaircraft missiles and artillery shells that are designed for use against enemy troops and tanks. The yield of a battlefield nuclear weapon may be as little as a tenth of a kiloton or as much as several kilotons.


In order to understand the effects of nuclear war, we need to first understand the basic concept of nuclear radiation.

Elements are the basic building blocks of the physical world. Some of the more common elements which we are all familiar with are hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, copper, etc. The smallest sub-component of an element which cannot be further divided by a chemical means is called an atom. Despite their extremely small size, atoms are made up of combinations of three yet smaller particles. These three smaller particles are called protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons have a positive charge, the electrons have a negative charge, and the neutrons are neutral—they have no charge.

Most atoms hold together quite well and are therefore referred to as stable elements. A few atoms, and several which mankind have been able to create, don’t hold together well. These unstable atoms tend to break down. When these unstable atoms break down, parts of the atom fly off into surrounding space in the form of energy. The spontaneous, uncontrollable breakdown of unstable atoms with a resulting energy release is referred to as radio activity.

These particles of energy that fly off of unstable atoms are released from the nucleus of the atom and the released particles are referred to as nuclear radiation. Nuclear radiation is the spontaneous, uncontrollable release of energy from the nucleus of atoms of an unstable element.

Types of Radiation

There are four basic types of nuclear radiation:

Alpha Radiation

Beta Radiation

Gamma Radiation

The third type of radiation is called gamma radiation. Gamma radiation is pure energy, similar to x-rays. Gamma rays are photons which have no measurable mass or electrical charge. Gamma radiation is often referred to as gamma rays. Gamma rays, in contrast to alpha and beta radiation, are highly penetrating and dangerous to living tissue. Gamma radiation is a serious threat and the major concern in relation to the extended fallout problem.

Neutron Radiation

The fourth type of radiation, and the most deadly type to be exposed to, is neutron radiation. Neutron radiation is an actual neutron particle with no electrical charge. During the initial detonation of a nuclear weapon, neutron radiation is released as a very penetrating pulse that occurs for a second or less. This type of radiation is only experienced within the immediate vicinity of point zero, approximately a 1.5-mile radius. Even with this momentary duration, neutron radiation is even more penetrating than gamma radiation. Neutron radiation is extremely penetrating, destructive and very difficult to shield against. Exposure to this pulse of neutron radiation can be very damaging or fatal.

The Direct Effects of Nuclear Weapons

There are seven potentially destructive effects which result from the detonation of a nuclear weapon, and six of these are dangerous to the human body or body parts. These are the flash, initial nuclear radiation, the fireball, thermal radiation, blast, radioactive fallout and electromagnetic pulse. Electro magnetic pulse has no immediate negative effect on the human body, but it can destroy electronic equipment necessary for life support in a shelter.

1. The Flash

2. Initial Radiation

3. Fireball

4. Thermal Radiation

5. Blast

a. Positive Overpressure

Effects of Positive Overpressure In P.S.I.

P.S.I. = Pounds per Square Inch / 1 P.S.I. = 144 pounds per square foot

1 P.S.I. - Broken glass and light damage to structures. Lacerations from flying glass.

2 P.S.I. - Severe damage to structures. Windows blown out, interior partitions in house blown out, furniture and contents swept out of the far side of the house, and masonry walls collapse. The blast winds associated with this range of overpressure are greater than most hurricanes. People in basement shelters would generally survive.

5 P.S.I. - Severe damage to structures. Those people who are exposed to the force will be thrown hard enough that if they impact a solid object, 99 percent will be killed. Houses collapse and crush most basement shelters or are blown off foundations. Vehicles are damaged enough that they can’t be driven. Blast shelters would be required for surviving pressures of 5 P.S.I. or greater.

15 to 20 P.S.I. - Commercial buildings are severely damaged. 50 percent of the people suffer ruptured eardrums and injury to lungs.

At 20 plus P.S.I. damage to the physical body is significant. The pressure ruptures the walls of the abdominal and thoracic cavities, causing hemorrhaging, and air is actually forced into the circulatory system. The body’s soft tissues and the skeletal structure suffer severe damage.

40 P.S.I. - 99 percent fatalities.

b. Reflected Overpressure

c. Blast Wind

During the surface burst detonation of a nuclear weapon, a blast wind results which is a high speed wind that directly follows the blast wave and creates a tremendous amount of destruction. A 100-kiloton air burst weapon produces a 2,000 m.p.h. wind at ground zero, a 700 m.p.h. wind at one-half mile, a 240 m.p.h. wind at one mile, and an 85 m.p.h. wind at two miles.

d. Negative Overpressure

6. Radioactive Fallout

The fireball created by a one megaton surface or groundburst vaporizes and fuses about 500,000 tons of dirt and debris with fission products and radioactive material.

This material is drawn up with an updraft of superheated gasses into the forming mushroom cloud. Then, as the heat diminishes, radioactive materials that have been vaporized condense on the drawn-up particles of earth, which are also condensing. Eventually, all these particles, many of which have combined with radioactive materials, fall back to earth. Within 24 hours, half of this fallout, the heavier particles, will have settled down out of the air onto the earth’s surface. These fallout particles are highly radioactive and give off strong rays. The lighter particles, which remain in the air for a longer time, settle down to earth much farther from the detonation site and end up losing much of their radiation strength while still suspended high in the atmosphere.

Fallout is not a mysterious, invisible, or unrecognizable substance that appears out of the sky without warning. Fallout particles range in size from those like grains of sand, which can be seen easily, to very small
particles that appear as fine dust.

The extent and distance to which fallout particles are distributed after a nuclear attack depends primarily on the existing wind currents and weather conditions. Areas close to a nuclear explosion might receive fallout within 1 to 30 minutes, but it might take 5 to 10 hours or more for the fallout particles to drift down on a community 100 or 200 miles away. Due to the prevailing winds which blow from west to east, higher accumulations of fallout would tend to cover the eastern United States.

After 28 days, 99 percent of this fallout on the ground will have decayed to biologically safe levels. The remainder of the very fine dust still in the atmosphere will end up in the stratosphere and will continue to particulate to the surface of the Earth at a rate of 10 percent per year. This fallout is non-hazardous by the time it returns to the earth’s surface.

Types of Weapon Detonations

When a nuclear weapon is launched toward an enemy target, the weapon is programmed to detonate at a certain distance, proximity or altitude to effect a desired destructive result. When the military command structure targets a particular type of enemy installation they predetermine how close to the target they want the weapon to detonate based on the target type. Most nuclear weapons are designed to explode in the air just over a target. The explosion point is sometimes called point zero, and the target area beneath it is called ground zero.

There are five basic types of nuclear weapon detonations: penetrator, ground burst, surface burst, air burst, and high altitude burst.


Surface Burst


High Altitude Burst

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
  Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a complicated phenomenon associated with a nuclear explosion. EMP is a radiated electromagnetic broadband pulse which has a very high energy content. It is generated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon. This detonation produces an emission of high energy gamma rays. When the gamma rays interact with air molecules, a negative charge is caused by the electrons. This relative displacement of positively and negatively charged regions produces an intense electric field and radiates a radio frequency pulse which is intercepted by any and all conductors and transformed into voltage. This can be as much as 50 to 60 thousand volts per meter. Power lines, telephone lines, and antennas will collect and thus magnify this energy and cause connected equipment to fail.

Distinctly different types of source regions are created, depending upon whether the detonation is a surface burst, a high altitude, or an air burst. In the case of a surface burst, the air molecules of the immediate atmosphere severely reduce the distance to which gamma rays can penetrate. A typical low yield surface burst may create an affected area one mile in diameter. Increasing the weapon yield by a factor of one thousand will increase the diameter of the source region only by a factor of about three.

In surface bursts, the damaging EMP effects are restricted to areas effected by
high overpressure and thermal radiation. Consideration of EMP is extremely important for hardened blast structures in direct target areas which could experience the effects of a high intensity blast.

A high yield, high altitude nuclear detonation in the ionosphere (above the atmosphere) gives off gamma rays. These gamma rays, due to the lack of obstructing air molecules in this partial vacuum environment, travel many miles and cover a large area with radiation. In such instances, gamma radiation affects the atmosphere over a vast region.

As the gamma radiation penetrates into the atmosphere, it interacts with air molecules causing the expulsion of electrons from those molecules. These rapidly moving electrons are curved by the earth’s magnetic field. This results in radiated synchrotron radiation which is the intense electromagnetic pulse.

Because of the great height, the EMP radiated from such a high altitude detonation will appear over a substantial portion of the earth’s surface. The EMP can damage electronic equipment in regions far away which are unaffected by the direct effects of a nuclear weapon. In such cases, shelters far away from any direct target areas could sustain damage to their power systems, communications and sensitive electronic equipment.

In the electromagnetic sense, the spectrum and wave form of EMP differ significantly from any other natural or man-made sources, such as lightning or radio waves. The spectrum is broad, extending from extremely low frequencies into the UHF band. The wave form indicates a higher amplitude and much faster rise time than, for example, lightning. In terms of the rise time of the events, EMP is in the low nanosecond range and lightning, at its fastest, is at least ten times slower. EMP is also widely distributed, as opposed to the localized effects of lightning.

Although there are vast differences between the phenomena of EMP and lightning, both can cause the same type of damage, and an analogy between the two is useful for assessing the threat of EMP in terms of a familiar phenomenon. Most damage from EMP occurs as energy in the form of strong electromagnetic fields is converted into very large currents and voltages when it impinges on cables or other conductors. Thus, like lightning, EMP can cause functional damage, such as the burnout or permanent electronic damage to components, or operational upset, such as the opening of circuit breakers or the erasure of storage in the memory bank of a computer. It is this sort of potential damage that poses EMP as a serious threat that must be considered in the design of any shelter.

The Effects of Radiation on People


Radiation Damage to Living Organisms
Body Parts Damaged by Ionization

It is important for people to understand that individuals exposed to fallout or initial radiation do not become radioactive and are not dangerous to other people as long as they have been externally decontaminated. Assure people that radiation sickness is not contagious or infectious, and one person cannot "catch it" from another person.

Roentgens, Rads & Rems

Effects of Radiation Poisoning – Short Term Exposure

0-25 Rads - No apparent "short-term" effect. May be some blood cell changes.

25-100 Rads - Typically people with this level of radiation exposure experience a loss of appetite and a small amount of nausea and sickness for the higher end of this dose category. Blood changes are noticeable. Up to 25 percent of persons experiencing this level of exposure will be incapacitated, but none will die. The normal period of convalescence will be about 7 days.

100-200 Rads - Definite identifiable changes in blood cells. White blood cells and platelets are affected at low range doses. Victims at the higher end of this radiation exposure category will show the toxic symptoms of damage to the gastrointestinal tract, such as weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting diarrhea, fever and infection. Those in this higher level will also experience hair loss, livid skin spots, fevers, hemorrhaging and some will experience heart failure. About 25 to 100 percent of persons exposed in this range will be incapacitated and approximately 25 percent will die within 30 to 60 days. The period of convalescence will be up to 40 days. Treatment should include reassurance, rest, light diet, water and antibiotics. For extreme cases, transfusions of platelets and white blood cells will be helpful.

200-450 Rads - Symptoms the same as for the previous exposure category but much more severe. 100 percent of persons exposed will eventually be incapacitated. More than half of this group experience nausea and vomiting soon after exposure and are ill for several days. This period of sickness is followed by one to three weeks where the victims seem free from any apparent symptoms. At the end of this period of no symptoms, more than half of the victims begin to experience hair loss and most develop moderately severe illness caused by infection.

This dose is fatal to at least 25 percent of those exposed to the low end of this dosage and up to 50 percent fatalities at the top end of the dose range within 30-60 days. Recovery time for survivors will be several weeks to several months.

The treatment for patients with this level of radiation exposure is the same as the previous category. Diarrhea and vomiting are common symptoms of radiation poisoning and cause dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes in the system. Maintaining the body’s electrolytes and hydration is important for both survival and recovery. If this cannot be accomplished through oral hydration mixtures, because of vomiting, then I.V. fluids should be administered, if available. Blood transfusions will help recovery and improve survival rates. If they are available, sedatives can be administered for extreme cases.

450-600 Rads - Symptoms in this category of exposure are the same as the previous exposure rate but now the onset of symptoms is sooner and very severe. The primary signs of illness in this group are mouth, throat and skin hemorrhages. It is also very common to see infections, such as sore throats, pneumonia and intestinal inflammation.

About 50-75 percent of the people exposed to this dosage will face death. Death will occur sooner in this exposure rate category, 20-35 days. Survivors’ period of convalescence will be several months to years. Survivors of this dosage level will require all the previously described treatments in addition to bone marrow transplant, if possible.

600-800 Rads - Those exposed to this dosage of radiation will experience the symptoms listed for all the previous exposure rates, but in addition the circulatory system and parts of the central nervous system will quickly begin to malfunction. All those exposed to this level of radiation will begin to vomit soon after exposure due to the major damage that radiation has inflicted upon the epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Unless medicated, this gastric distress can continue for several days or until death. typical symptoms here are vertigo, headache, nausea, cramps, vomiting and uncontrolled diarrhea which eventually becomes bloody. Medications can control some of the negative symptoms and make the patient more comfortable but at this level of exposure, it won’t change the inevitable outcome.

About 75 to 99 percent of the people exposed to this level of radiation will face death quickly. Bone marrow transplants and advanced life support will most likely be necessary for gaining any survivors from this group. Consequently, the period of convalescence or recovery will be years. Bone marrow transplants and advanced life support will probably not be available during a nuclear war. Consequently, treatment would mainly be emotional support because of the probability of death.

800-5,000 plus Rads - Rapid deterioration. Vomiting, falling blood cell count, diarrhea, fatigue, internal bleeding, internal organ failure, nervous system collapse, heart failure, coma and death. 100 percent death rate within hours. Treatment is purely supportive. Humans cannot survive this level of massive radiation exposure.

5,000 plus Rads - Cells of the central nervous system and the tissues of the heart are affected. This produces disorientation, shock, seizures and neurological problems. Death results within a few days due to the collapse of the central nervous and the cardiovascular systems.

Selective Uptake

1. Potassium Iodide

2. Calcium

3. Iron

4. Potassium

5. Zinc

6. Vitamin B-12

The Decay of Radioactivity

There are many popular myths propagated by those advocating unilateral disarmament and, to a certain extent, the media regarding the effects of nuclear war. These myths include ideas like: "In the event of a nuclear war, the earth will be uninhabitable for thousands of years" or "There will be no use trying to survive a nuclear war because when you come out of your shelter, the earth will be totally devastated." These statements are untrue. These false concepts are intentional distortions, fabricated to elicit an emotional response from uninformed people.

First of all, the radioactive fallout from the detonation of a nuclear weapon decays extremely fast. Within two weeks (14 days) after the detonation of a nuclear weapon, occupants of shelters could start going outside for an increasing number of hours each day. Generally speaking, 28 days after a nuclear detonation, radiation levels in the area affected by that detonation would have decayed enough that shelter occupants could come out of the shelter permanently. The exception would be areas that are downwind from targets which were attacked by multiple weapons and or multiple attacks over a period of time. Consequently, these areas will receive heavier concentrations of fallout, and the fallout from the detonation of subsequent or secondary attacks will produce an overlapping radiation decay rate. The only foolproof way to tell when it is safe to go outside your shelter is to take a reading with a reliable survey meter.

Secondly, the physical destruction caused by the detonation of a nuclear weapon is limited to a relatively small radius. For instance, the detonation of a one-megaton nuclear weapon at a surface burst altitude would cause fires and physical destruction for a radius of up to 5 or 6 miles. Anyone living seven to ten miles away wouldn’t be affected by the heat, blast winds and overpressure generated by the nuclear detonation.

Where this myth gets its origin is nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants use a different type of radioactive material which can take a thousand plus years to decay. Chernobyl was a real-life environmental nightmare and the vast areas contaminated will remain so for many generations to come. This may be a genuine concern if you happen to live downwind of a nuclear power plant. In the event of an accident or melt down, radioactive isotopes would be carried by the wind and deposited over a wide area. These isotopes have a very long half life, thousands of years, whereas the isotopes found in the fallout from a nuclear weapon detonation decay rapidly.

Are You Ready?

No Such Thing as Doomsday

How to prepare for
Power Outages,
Terrorism, War,
and Other Threats

By Philip L. Hoag

"This book is a must for all
serious survival-minded people."

Scott Stoddard, American Survival Guide

TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; News/Current Events

1 posted on 10/08/2001 4:27:21 PM PDT by FresnoDA
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To: FresnoDA

Nuclear, Biological, & Chemical Warfare- Survival Skills, Pt. II

2 posted on 10/08/2001 4:53:17 PM PDT by backhoe
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