In the face of the worst nuclear attack scenarios, are you well prepared? In case the apocalypse does happen someday soon, your survival may depend on some “end of the world” movies. We don’t necessarily take Post Apocalyptic film as seriously as official government guides, but you have to agree with me, they are much more entertaining.
With the accident in Fukushima behind us, panic and fear of the nuclear catastrophe have many people fearful of an uncertain future. Some are deciding to have iodine tablets in storage and buy Geiger counters, and this is not only happening in Japan either. This worst-case scenario, we see it all the time in cinema, for as far as we can remember. Many filmmakers have projected themselves into the post-apocalyptic universe. How do the characters survive this type of disaster? Would their survival kit and quick thinking be useful in real life?
- The Movies usually begin with a disaster of some sort.
- The characters find a shelter.
- They avoid contact with rain and objects contaminated by radiation.
- The survivors inform themselves of what’s happening.
- Finding food and water is now their number one priority.
- Building a post-nuclear society.
The writers who lived through the Cold War have easily exploited the populations fear of a nuclear apocalypse. Their plot: World War Three (WW3). The World, The Flesh, and the Devil is a 1959 doomsday movie written and directed by Ranald MacDougall where the protagonist survives by being stuck in a mine shaft and discovering a world devastated by the nuclear fallout. The same year, in “On the beach,” the survivors have to take refuge in Australia, the last habitable continent, but also doom to be overcome by the radioactive fallout.
According to Jean-Vincent Brisset, a nuclear specialist at Iris (The French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs), atomic warfare scenarios are “no longer the popular trend” among nuclear specialists and agencies responsible for preparing prevention plans today. “The countries harboring nuclear weapons know if they launch a nuclear bomb on another nation, the fallout radiation will come back to them sooner or later. It’s a technology that splashes. “
Today, Britain, Russia, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea all have atomic weapons. But their deterrent force removes the trail of war between two nuclear powers, according to Francis Sorin, atomic specialist and member of the French Society of Nuclear Energy: “The atomic bomb is a factor of avoidance of war, for example between India and China, or India and Pakistan. “
However, a 1963 film by Stanley Kubrick by the name of Dr. Strangelove Gold: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in which a high-ranking American decides to send nuclear bombs towards Russia without the approval of its staff, remains relevant today. The journal Bulletin of Atomic scientists updates its Doomsday Clock in the light of global risk factors, first and foremost due to nuclear weapon global threats. They insist on this possibility: “Today, an accidental nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States can potentially take place, as both countries keep more than a thousand warheads on permanent alert. “
Terrorist attacks: Trending TV Scenarios but Still Unimaginable
Today, the most famous hypothesis among the media and screenwriters are acts of terrorism, mostly executed by Islamic Extremist. In the Fox hit series 24, Jack Bauer, a CTU agent will have to defeat a terrorist attack in Los Angeles in both season 2 and season 6. In a remarkable series by the name of Jericho (2006-2008), the inhabitants of a village in Kansas witnesses Simultaneous nuclear explosions far on the horizon, they immediately think its caused by a terrorist network operation, either foreign or domestic.
“The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” relays this scenario
Porous borders and the circulation of ideas makes it possible for a non-state organization to use nuclear technology, according to the newspaper. For Jean-Vincent Brisset, it’s unimaginable: “A large country like Iran is already struggling to develop this technology, so for terrorists, it would be even more complicated to build an atomic bomb.” Not to mention the difficulties of transportation and the initial start-up of the bomb (Nukes are much more sophisticated than an ordinary explosive device), which make this plot simply “folkloric.”
What would be the outcome in the case of an attack on a nuclear power generating station?
Another weapon a terrorist organization could use, instead of a nuclear bomb, is a so-called Dirty Bomb “radiological dispersal device (RDD)“. Dirty Bombs are a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. The purpose of this kind of weapon is to contaminate the area around the dispersal agent/conventional explosion with radioactive material, serving primarily as an area denial device against civilians by creating a very strong panic and to prohibit access to certain areas. This bomb requires access to radioactive products.
Theft In Nuclear Plant
It’s nearly impossible to steal from a Nuclear Power Station. According to Jean-Vincent Brisset, they are protected by a “very elaborate security systems” which makes it “difficult to steal anything”. On the other hand, it would still be possible to steal an atomic device. More than 100 million tonnes of nuclear weapons manufactured during the Cold War are stored unsecured in Russia, says US public health activist Irwin Redlener in a TED conference. Chechen rebels tried another method in September 1999 by trying to steal radioactive materials from a chemical plant but became ill due to radiation poisoning. The rebels were arrested before they could use the product to build an atomic bomb.
In several post-nuclear films, they never explain the reason for a nuclear disaster. This is the case in “Malevil – 1981, Stalker – 1979, The Last Battle – 1983 and my personal favorite, The Road – 2009. Even if the films do not make it clear why the apocalypse happened because of a nuclear disaster, you can often guess that nuclear warfare indeed caused it.
The More Plausible Scenario: A Nuclear Power Plant Accident / Melt Down.
The most conceivable real-life plot would be an accident in a Power Station, as in Fukushima and Chernobyl. However, there are a relatively limited amount of incidents of this kind in our history. Government body’s are typically applying evacuation measures to limit the damage to humans, even when the radioactive fallout cloud is moving. Unless we forget, no post-apocalyptic film begins with this scenario.
In any case, once a Nuclear Disaster arrives, what can we do to ensure our survival? Find Shelter!
What would you do if you were in one of those disaster movies?
To your surprise and horror, a nuclear warhead goes off without any warning, you’de already know that it’s much better to be in a well-isolated place, preferably underground. Like the inhabitants of “Malevil”: villagers are down in the mayor’s cellar at the very the moment the explosion takes place. Despite the intense heat that makes the barrel of wine smoke, the characters survive, unlike those who were outside.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to anticipate the catastrophe, there are ways to improve your chances of survival. In the television series “Jericho,” inhabitants in a small Texas town sees an atomic mushroom cloud in the middle of the afternoon, several tens of miles away. After the first shock, a nuclear accident expert comes out of nowhere to warn them that they only have two hours to find suitable shelter before the radiation cloud arrives. The mayor, police, and all the main characters rush to crowd the inhabitants into a bomb shelter located beneath town hall, while those who own cellars are advised to hide there.
Space is Better than Earth
But really, the safest place would be to be on earth all together at the moment of shock. It’s a space station that allows the crew of Def-Con 4, 1985 to escape the atomic catastrophe. While in orbit around the Earth, the space station acts as a holder for the American nuclear warheads. Under orders, they launch the missiles towards the Erth bellow. Several months later, the station is mysteriously pulled towards the Earth, forcing the crew to try to survive a post-apocalyptic world. Same goes for the original The Planet of the Apes movie in 1968. The space shuttle crew remains in stasis for too long and makes the discovery at the end of the film (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) that a nuclear apocalypse had devastated the Earth, many many years ago.
And if you currently don’t have at least one rocket ship or an atomic bomb shelter available, Hollywood offers an Indiana Jones-style appliance. In the fourth film “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull Kingdom, 2008”, In the midst of a nuclear detonation in the Nevada desert, the adventurous archaeologist seeks refuge in a… refrigerator! Just watch this impressive clip below for your Indiana Jones atomic survival tip!
Instructions in reality
So basically, if the intense heat from the shock wave does not vaporize your body, Irwin Redlener has a few survival tips for you to remember. Irwin says that by referencing an atomic detonation like the one in Nagasaki: If you’re in the same place as the explosion, you will vaporize. At 3km away from the explosion, you still have a 50% chance of survival. Beyond 3km and up to 12km, you will only have between 10% and 20% chance of instantly dying.
But if you’re still alive after the explosion
- Do not look at the flash; there’s a strong chance that you will become instantly blind.
- Flee, you have 10 to 20 minutes before the radioactive fallout reaches you.
- Run in the direction of the wind. The fallout will follow wherever direction the wind is blowing. You always want to be ahead of the radiation and not mistakenly travel closer to it.
- Cover your body as much as possible to avoid as much radiation poisoning as you can. The more layers you have on you, the better!
- If you’re unable to leave the affected area, find shelter ASAP, in a cellar or in the thickest building you can see that’s the closest to your location; in hopes to avoid the initial fallout of the nuclear explosion.
When you learn that there is an imminent threat, go home if instructed by authorities, and do not travel the entire city looking for your loved ones. If your children are at school, measures will be taken to shelter them if there’s no time to go elsewhere.
Check your Municipal Information Document on Major Hazards. (which is the same for most municipalities) They usually advise AGAINST:
- Staying in your vehicle.
- Standing near windows.
- Making Phone Calls.
Congratulations: You’ve successfully been able to save your skin, but now you have to be careful not to re-expose yourself to radiation.
Avoid Contact With Rain and Objects Contaminated by Radiation
What Would You do if You Were in a Movie?
Instinctively, the heroes in any nuclear disaster films seem to know that radioactive particles in the rain are incredibly hazardous to living things. If you watch Indiana Jones 4, After Harrison Ford rolls out of his Atomic proof refrigerator, they tell him to remove and discard his clothes, which may have radiation contamination. The same thing happens in Jericho, where one of the citizens must thoroughly wash after taking an irradiated man to the hospital.
In Malevil, one of the villagers knows how to detect radiation in the rainwater. He places a camera outside while it’s raining, if there’s marking on the film, it proves the rain is radioactive. Fortunately, the experiment reveals no trace of radiation and survivors can begin planting their gardens. This photographic technique is not fiction; it’s been used in real life to show hints of radiation woman’s bones contaminated with radium by using silver photo paper.
Real Life Instructions
According to Irwin Redlener, these films are not very far from reality in the way the characters react to a nuclear incident. Take off your decontaminated clothes, thoroughly wash your skin if there is exposure to rain or radioactive dust and finding shelter underground are the first things they usually do. Thoroughly clean all objects exposed to radiation. But many prevention guides say nothing about one crucial thing that some films have covered.
Place a white plate outside and check it every fifteen minutes. If there’s an accumulation of dust on the plate, you should treat it as radioactive fallout. You can watch this explanation in the 1950’s Government Video, The Fallout. This broadcast was to make the population aware that there are things you can do yourself to minimize radiation fallout exposure.
What do you do After you’ve Avoided the Radioactive Fallout?
Inform yourself on what is going on and if help is coming. Having a crank radio is your first step in finding out what is happening outside.
What Would You do if you Were in a Movie?
Movie character’s first reflex is usually to turn on their television or radio to find out what is happening. Unfortunately, all electronic devices have often succumbed to an electromagnetic pulse (IEM or EMP) released by the atomic bomb. The electromagnetic pulse makes all electronic devices unusable. This electromagnetic pulse is one of the significant after-effects of a nuclear bomb detonation.
In the case of a radioactive mushroom cloud, however, electronic devices typically do not sustain damage. It’s the explosion itself that creates these electromagnetic disturbances, but it does depend on the altitude of the blast. The United States Action website specifies that during a high altitude detonation (greater than 30 km/19m), electronic devices within a radius of 1,600 km/995m may become useless. Only people that are using devices such as a pacemaker can have this effect.
With proper planning, you can prevent some of your smaller electronic devices from being affected by the EMP. In the first season of Jericho, a National Security Agent has his laptop in a particular case that prevents it from rendering it useless; this is a Faraday case.
In The Last Battle, the characters are unable to speak. The radio stations are also silent, as much because of the characters being mute than the problem related to an EMP. But they still attempt to send and receive messages. Just as in Malevil, where the characters try to build a transmitter.
What about Real Life?
In reality, it is almost impossible to know precisely how this would all play out. Local and federal authorities depend on a system where they would be able to function, even if it’s at minimal capacity. They could at the very least react to the situation by alerting the public to what is happening. This alert is usually by interrupting a television or radio broadcast with an alarm and instructions.
In any case, you need to inform yourself ASAP about the situation, safety instructions, and a possible evacuation protocol, etc.… During this period, you may have to abruptly evacuate your home or, in some cases, to confine yourself within your home or current location.
In areas not affected by the electromagnetic pulse (ten kilometers for a low yield bomb and up to 1,600 km for the larger ones) radio communications will not be affected, and the electronic devices will still be in working order (if there is still a flow of electricity of course).
The Internet will always function, as long as data centers aren’t destroyed and are still receiving power, and the same goes for private homes. Power plants will continue to provide power for a few days even if all its personnel has evacuated the generating station. The data centers have generators in the event of a power outage.
There will be a possibility to communicate with one another on the internet, by conventional telephone and satellite phones in the case of radioactive fallout. Short-wave (mechanical) radios or simple visual or audible signs (signs, lights, whistles) will keep working in the case of an explosion creating an electromagnetic pulse. You should, however, avoid using the telephone for non-emergencies. Heavy phone traffic could make it difficult for people to make emergency calls.
It’s Time to Think About The Days To Come, and Find Food!
What You would do if you were in a Movie/TV
Movies love to describe a chaotic situation by showing devastated grocery stores and empty/overturned vending machines. Only in Jericho that the aftermath of an atomic explosion was represented in a peaceful light by having well-known people from the community equally divide essential resources so that every citizen receives food and water, at least in the first few days anyway.
Fresh fruits quickly become a highly valued currency of exchange, in Def-Con 4 for example, due to the immediate contamination of most fresh food stocks.
In Malevil, the characters are lucky because they have a cow, pigs and lots of liquor. They don’t know however if the vegetables in their garden have radiation contamination.
Even long after the explosion and the radiation fallout, if cities are destroyed and soil permanently contaminated by particles; the only way to feed ourselves is by eating non-perishable food produced before the apocalypse. Canned soup and vegetables would be more valuable than gold, as in “The Road” and “The Last Fight.”
Nothing beats having an emergency food storage that has a full stock in advance. A barrel full of water on hand would be an asset during an apocalyptic event. Establishing a family safety plan, as recommended by most governments, can be another asset in areas with a higher probability of attack.
Most importantly, after the first radioactive incidents, do not eat any vegetables from the ground or in the trees. In Japan, contaminated vegetables and milk were detected more than 150 km from the Fukushima disaster site. Food or liquids in glass bottles are ordinarily safe to consume. Stay away from open or non-sealed containers, just to be safe.
Here’s what a basic emergency kit should contain. This is according to the department of public health and safety of governments in specific areas. In a backpack, a bin or a large canvas bag, you should have the following items:
- Drinking water; – Two liters per person per day, for at least three days. According to the Federal Drug Association, you can keep unopen water bottles indefinitely in case of emergencies.
- Non-perishable food – Provision for at least three days.
- Manual can opener
- Battery powered or crank radio
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- First aid kit – adhesive bandages, sterile gauze compresses, scissors, tweezers, pins, antiseptics and pain relievers included.
- Hygiene items – Toothbrushes, towels, soap, toilet paper, plastic garbage bags
- Set of spare keys for your house and vehicles
- Lighters and matches
- Multifunctional pocket knife
- Dust/gas masks – To filter contaminated air
- Important personal documents; – Photocopies: Passport and Driver’s License, insurance policies, prescriptions for medications and glasses, safety plan if you have one. It ‘s a good idea also to have a list of people to contact in case of emergency.
There aren’t many emergency guides we read advising people to carry firearms. If you do have a gun, the most important thing is that you have training on how to use it. Also, make sure that your weapon is in good working condition. Also, make sure that you have the right kind of ammunition on hand.
Nowadays, carrying a cell phone, portable battery packs, and laptop computers can be helpful, even if some emergency guides do not mention it. Often these guides were created before these electronic items became an everyday thing. We can add and modernize our emergency stock by adding, for example, this kit sold by Amazon. This package contains enough for two people, for two days. This kit has energy bars, water, blankets, bandages and much more.
More Useful Items
- A solar charger – which can recharge your electronic items like your cell phone, radio, and flashlights.
- A backup hard drive/USB – containing your digital data: Important documents and family photos.
Moving Forward Towards a Post-Nuclear Society
Did you survive? Congratulations. You get away with honors. It’s up to you to hold elections and to reinstate a decision-making body. This new government will decide the future of your modern society. Without a state or security force, there is a good chance that power will return to those who have weapons. In particular to the military, such as the characters of Def-Con 4 and Endgame. Mutinies await you, or faction creations within the survivors. Apparently, the ideal scenario is to have both the weapons and the means to eat; as in the community of Malevil.
In reality, Governments are not planning to not be around in the post-apocalyptic era. In the prevention guides, we always imagine that government will survive a nuclear accident and will be able to provide security. But the United States is probably not ready for a post-apocalyptic scenario. My advice to you is to study some of these films thoroughly; they might not be as much outside the realm of reality as you may think.
There are nuclear bunkers all over the United States that are free for anyone to use in case of a nuclear strike or even other types of disasters. Click here to find out where the closest bunker is from your home.