An all out nuclear war, not likely. A dirty bomb being detonated somewhere in the United States is possible, even likely, and a terrorist organization getting a small tactical nuke and detonating it, possible as well.
The threats loom large and it gets larger every day with Russia playing mind games and North Korea, well North Korea is simply nuts and capable of doing anything if, in fact, they have the capability to do anything, which we don’t really know. It’s like the beware of dog sign, is there really a dog behind the fence, does North Korea have the capability of mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile that can reach the U.S. mainland. Better to assume they do and to prepare accordingly.
Survival Depends On Shielding, Distance and Time.
There is more, of course, the heat from the blast, the fires caused by the blast and the destruction of buildings, highways, and bridges will cause multiple deaths as well. Then those in the outlying areas must be prepared so as not to succumb to radiation poisoning, the fallout, in other words. People close to a nuclear explosion would receive fallout within 15 – 30 minutes, and it can take up to 10 hours for the fallout to drift between 100 and 200 miles depending on air currents, terrain, and structures that may block the flow.
The yield of a nuclear weapon is the amount of energy released when a nuclear weapon is detonated. It is expressed as a TNT equivalent (the standardized equivalent mass of trinitrotoluene, which, if detonated, would produce the same energy discharge). Explosions are either measured in kilotons (kt—thousands of tons of TNT), in megatons (Mt—millions of tons of TNT) or sometimes in terajoules (TJ).
Death is almost certain and radiation poisoning is guaranteed if a person is caught in the open with no terrain or buildings’ masking the effects within a radius of 0–3 km from a 1-megaton airburst and a 50 percent chance of death from the blast extends out to 8 km from the same 1 megaton atmospheric explosion.
Your Survival Depends On Where You Are As Much As What You Have In Some Cases
Underground is the safest and the more dirt between you and the blast the better. We say dirt because most people will not have a fallout shelter ready to move into so people will have to go to their basements, root cellars and any place that can put soil, snow, metal, concrete, or wood between them and the blast/fallout.
You can tape windows and doors on the upper floors and then go to the basement and tape the doors and windows leading to the basement. This means, of course, you need supplies to survive for days or even weeks in one place.
It will hard for you to determine the decay rate of the radioactive material, and the first 24 hours are critical. If you are not downwind it may be safe after 24 hours, however, those closer to the blast may be forced to shelter for 30 days or longer.
It is important that you have the means to monitor the news. It is assumed that any nuclear blast will not be the result of a direct nuclear attack by a nuclear state but rather will be a terrorist organization detonating a tactical nuclear device in a large city or a dirty bomb detonation near where you live. This means that the federal government will likely be able to provide safety information via local and national news organization. Your local government may not be able to respond or to provide information.
Do you need suits and respirators? You do if you plan on being in a radioactive environment, but those tasked with rescue efforts or clean up would be the ones working in a highly contaminated area. All others should have evacuated, or are dead and this includes you.
Suits, of course, would be ideal, but if you are away from the blast area and the fallout is not likely due to miles between you and the initial blast then suits may not be needed. You would have to be in the suit before the blast to survive close to the detonation, and if close enough the heat and blast itself will kill you regardless of whether you are in protective gear or not. Suits for rescues and cleanup, but as far as personal protection you have to decide if you can spare the financial expense.
The most likely scenario will be a localized nuclear detonation, which in and of itself, could kill thousands, but the point is, the rest of the country would likely be functioning. In other words, your community would receive help with emergency supplies, protective gear if necessary and emergency shelters.
Of course, if North Korea launches a weapon, it will hit somewhere, but they cannot launch enough to destroy the U.S., and if they did launch it is likely that we would launch a counterattack essentially neutralizing North Korea forever.
A fallout shelter would be ideal, but it has to give you more than a false sense of security. It must actually provide security by having a state of the art air filtration system, secure water source, and a waste management system, and its own power grid all contained within. It needs to be designed so you do not have to leave the bunker/shelter until safe to do so.