Increasing your odds of surviving a nuclear blast

Good to know.

Sheltering miles from a nuclear blast may not be enough to survive unless you know where to hide, new calculations show

If a nuclear bomb were dropped in your city tomorrow, would you know where to take cover? Nuclear war is a terrifying thought, but for a team of researchers at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, it’s top of mind.

In a recent study, the researchers calculated how the blast from a nuclear explosion could affect people sheltering indoors, and found that even if you’re at a safe distance from the explosion to survive the blast, you may still be in immediate peril.

“It is important to understand the impact on humans indoors to provide recommendations for protecting people and assets,” said co-author Dimitri Drikakis. “For example, we can design structures that offer more protection.”

They reported that narrow pockets inside buildings like doorways and hallways could act like a windtunnel, accelerating the shockwave to dangerous pressures of up to 18 times a human’s body weight — easily enough to crush bones.

“The most dangerous critical indoor locations to avoid are the windows, the corridors, and the doors,” said co-author Ioannis William Kokkinakis.

The best location is in the half of the building farthest from the blast, in a room with no windows. But, “even in the front room facing the explosion, one can be safe from the high airspeeds if positioned at the corners of the wall facing the blast,” Kokkinakis told Insider.

It’s also worth noting that the building itself is important. You don’t want to take cover in a log cabin, for example.

I want my underground bunker in Idaho.


17 thoughts on “Increasing your odds of surviving a nuclear blast

  1. Why would a log cabin be worse than a brick building, or a stick-built one? I would think that, of those three, the log building would be strongest, and certainly far less brittle than a brick building.

    • Depending on how the logs are joined. But you are correct. Properly joined logs are hell for stout. And almost all brick these days is just a veneer.
      Stick frame houses are cheap and in the right shape very flexible. So good for earthquakes, not so good for wind.
      Concrete and block are the best for living in. And surviving.

      • In the US, brick may be veneer in new construction of the kind I would avoid at all cost. But in other parts of the world that’s not so. In Holland, houses are brick, often concrete bricks (solid ones, not hollow blocks) for the inner layer of a two-layer wall with an air or foam filled gap for insulation. The house I grew up in was built that way, but it’s what you see almost everywhere. Wood houses are either very old or temporary construction. Those brick houses are just brick laid in mortar, no reinforcing. Holland has no earthquakes to speak of, and apparently the powerful storms are still not quite bad enough to push down those walls. At least not for houses — larger buildings are a different matter. In Utrecht (my birthplace) the cathedral sits across the road from a 100 meter tall tower. That’s because it used to be the tower of the church until the connecting structure blew down in a powerful storm in the 17th century. So they bricked up the hole in the church and kept the two parts, separate.

        Concrete would be very strong if reinforced, not so much if just poured without rebar. Concrete houses aren’t very common; do they use rebar?

    • By my recollection, homes most susceptible to huffing and puffing are made of straw, followed by sticks (logs). Brick or reinforced concrete are best apparently, at least if you’re dealing with canis lupus.

      I figured you already had that bunker built somewhere behind or under your range, Joe?

      • I figured you already had that bunker built somewhere behind or under your range, Joe?

        I wish! I have a small camping trailer I sometimes stay at there.

        • No worry. When the time comes you have a whole forest right next door.
          And the owner is absent enough for you snag what you need from there.
          One word on log cabins. Shrinkage. We used to play an inch and a half in doors and windows.
          One can fix that by drilling rebar between the log joins every 18″ to 24″. About 2″ to 3″ into each log.
          Then just add extra chinking as they shrink. But it helps a lot as things settle.

  2. Steel and glass high rises will be the worst. Most stick frame houses will blow right over. No matter what part of the house your in.
    Concrete and block are the best. As in Japan, your shadow might get burned into the concrete. But the concrete survived. Maybe you if you were behind it?
    And most of what kills is flying debris. Thus the old, “duck and cover’ drill.
    Fallout is all about ground or air burst along with wind currents. Ground blast being worse for radiation. Air burst for damage.
    One can google search wind maps of your area. And watch air currents in real time to get a general idea of safe zones.
    And Joe, if you want a bunker the best thing to do is just have as many of those eco-blocks delivered as you can afford.
    You can build anything with those. Not having them on hand when the time comes will be the problem.
    And almost any local concrete batch plant will have or make them.

    • That brings up the subject of roofing material. In Holland, roofs are almost universallly clay tile (interlocking, not usually the SouthWest style half-cylinder shape). In a strong storm, flying roof tiles are a hazard to pedestrians and parked cars.
      Asphalt shingles are supposedly quite good, and when they do blow off they aren’t likely to hurt too badly. What about metal roofing? Is that as a rule fastened down well enough?

  3. Would love to have at least a part of my perfect future house made by these guys: Monolithic Dome.

    Bullet proof. Fire proof. Earthquake proof. Hurricane proof. Bug proof. Flood-resistant. Cool looking. Energy efficient. One of the best possible designs in case of a local (but not TOO local!) thermonuclear war event.
    Something like that, plus an extensive root cellar, catacomb, and underground water cistern and life would be good.

  4. If you are close enough to need to worry about overpressure you are close enough to need to worry about thermal energy. Log houses burn….easily. Stick built houses with decent non wood siding are less likely to burst into flame from the thermal energy. Brick/concrete exteriors are best. If you are close enough to a warhead detonation to need to worry about blast pressure and thermal energy you are also close enough to need to worry about radiation/fallout. Which will kill far more people over time than the actual blast. The sad ugly reality is that if you live in a metro area your odds of surviving a nuclear warhead are a toss up…at best. Which is why I moved to a very rural area decades ago. And nuclear war is just one of the many things that can easily kill people living in metropolitan areas. In fact there are numerous things that are more likely to kill you than nuclear warheads.

    • The prevailing winds blow from the Pacific to the East. I don’t believe Salem is an ICBM target. Portland on the other hand almost certainly is. If you are East of Portland, the radioactive fallout from Portland will almost certainly fall on you / rain on you. Move closer to the coast but away from any cities especially ones with port facilities that could be used by Navy ships. They’re all targets

    • When I actually have one you are welcome to visit. But I would rather any construction and location details not be public.

      • Need to Know is FAR more important than getting more Likes on Social Media…. Something a lot of people just don’t understand.

        Something never hits the internet can stay private for a long time.

Comments are closed.