Nuke Alert, “The 15 Minute Scenario”

Alert Post01

By now we all know about the Hawaii false “Inbound Missile” alert that took place a week ago. I keep hearing the BS from the talking heads about “One guy pushed the wrong button.”, and “It was a complete accident.”, and none of us, that know better, believe anything they are saying. Brushbeater spoke about it briefly in this post. Here’s the thing to ponder, what if it was real? I’m not getting wrapped up in the political, misdirection BS being espoused, but what would you do if it was real? Where would you go?

Do you have the slightest clue how you would react, and is your situational awareness and training enough that you would immediately know where relative safety is (it honestly depends how close you are to the blast). Keep in mind that this post is about protecting yourself from the initial blast, not the fallout. Fallout/Radiation protective measures have been talked about here.

Here are three “area dependent” scenarios you might want to consider planning for.

  1. You are at home.
  2. You are driving through or at work in town.
  3. You are driving on the Interstate or in a remote area.

Before we discuss where you are, let’s discuss where the primary targets in your area might be. Two primary targets for a nuke would be a military base, or a large city. Once you’ve figured out where the target for the nuke might be in your area, you can then make an assessment of where you might want to position yourself in the area you have selected as an improvised blast shelter. This assessment would dictate that if you are in a building, you’d want to be on the side furthest from the blast, preferably in a basement. It also dictates that if you are in something like an end to end open drainage, the drainage needs to be perpendicular, rather than parallel to the most likely direction of the blast’s path.

1. You are at home. OK, do you have a basement, if so, are all sides covered by dirt (less chance of blast damage)? Protection in this situation is somewhat simple. Get in your basement, go to the side furthest from the likely target, and if possible, get under something like a table to help protect from falling debris. Another thought would be to grab that spare mattress that everyone seams to have in their storage area and place it on the side of the table closest to the direction the blast would be coming from. In the below video, Cresson Kearny discusses a basement shelter.

If you don’t have a basement, do you have a crawl space? If so, apply the directions for the basement, in the smaller area of the crawl space. If you have neither of these, apply whatever is more applicable from what is mentioned in either #2 or #3 below.

2. You are driving through or working in town. Once again, where is the likely source of the blast wave coming from. Find a solid (concrete or brick) building and try to get into the basement as quickly as possible. Parking garages are another type of building in a city that would be good cover, and if it has a basement level, all the better.

Manholes are one of the better sources of protection, but usually, the biggest hurdle to them is gaining access (getting the manhole cover up). I first learned of a nifty improvised method from Bruce Clayton’s book, Life After Doomsday. In it he describes a “Key” to get a manhole cover open in an emergency. As he mentions, crowbars work too, but how many people carry crowbars in their car these days?

Alert post04

Manhole “Key” improvised from three items found in the tool box in my vehicle. An allen wrench, a piece of wire coat hanger, and two screws.

Alert post03

I used screws because if the loop is tight, they won’t fall out when tilted sideways to put in the manhole access hole.

Alert post05

Once they are all the way in, the screws act as a toggle by tilting sideways to lift the cover.

Alert post06

Two screws are still small enough to fit in the access hole, but strong enough to lift the cover.

Another source of some immediate blast protection is small drainage ditches. The drain itself doesn’t have to be big enough to get into, because you can drive over the ditch up where the drain comes out of the ground, and get underneath your vehicle.

Alert post02

In this situation, I’d drive my vehicle off of the street which is perpendicular to the main road (yes, I’d drive over the black and yellow “Caution” sign), and I’d straddle my vehicle’s tires over the ditch until only my rear bumper was over the blacktop. Then just get under your vehicle. You are protected from falling debris from above by your vehicle, and most of the blast effects (except for overpressure) from the sides are covered by the bank of the ditch.

3. You are on the Interstate/ in a remote area. Let’s say you were driving down the highway in Hawaii last Saturday at 8:05AM when you got that alert, and there are no buildings anywhere close, what do you do? My first reaction would be find a drainage ditch. As mentioned earlier, don’t get into a drainage ditch that appears to be parallel to what you think would be the path of the blast wave. If you do, you could be shot out of the end of that ditch like a bullet from the blast force that could be concentrated in that pipe. It is still better than being in the open, but I believe it’s more dangerous than the earlier mentioned “Car over drainage ditch” method.

Alert post07

If I was to use this pipe, I’d drive my vehicle over the grassy portion above the pipe (in the pic) down over the entrance to the pipe. Access to the entrance could be gained from the left side in the pic.

Although an overpass would do if you have nothing else, it would be my last choice of the things that have been mentioned. There isn’t a whole lot of cover under an over pass from something like a blast wave, and my concern would be of a possible collapse. It is still better than being in the open though, especially since you have the added protection of the vehicle you are in.

Alert post10

Getting behind the concrete wall at the base of the pillars on the left side is probably your best bet. Better yet would be if you could drive your vehicle up under either side off the roadway (less open area, less blast wave).

Alert post09

Stuff like this is why I’m not a fan of the “Overpass technique”.

If you are situationally aware, you know that most areas of roadway in the US have a number of drainage ditches, pipes, overpasses, and manhole covers (i.e…….cover) that could be used in a situation like what those in Hawaii faced last Saturday morning. The mantra “Stay Alert, Stay Alive” isn’t just a hokey military axiom, it is something that should be applied by everyone who calls themselves a Survivalist EVERYDAY!

Alert post08

How many areas in this pic do you think would make good, improvise blast protective shelters? Your vehicle can do nothing but aid in the blast protection if done right.

Although one of my MOS’s in the Mil was in NBC (nuclear, bio, chemical), you do not have to have that background to be able to use common sense to figure out a solution to your protection from things like a nuke blast. There is a lot of good info out there for free, so take advantage of it. Start with Cresson Kearny’s book “Nuclear War Survival Skills“, then read Clayton’s “Life After Doomsday“.


American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE






27 thoughts on “Nuke Alert, “The 15 Minute Scenario”

  1. Pingback: MDT: Nuke Alert, “The 15 Minute Scenario” – Lower Valley Assembly

  2. Manholes are full of poison gas , or high voltage electric hazards. Not my first or even second choice. Culverts are better if you can find one big enough. An old school foxhole with revetted walls and a roof braced for high impact overpressure would be best. But anything between you and glass/debris flying at + 400 MPH would be good. Getting OUT of the fireball/blast radius is best. Even one mile will make all the difference between being grilled like a hamburger in that 1 MILLION degree F. fireball and not. The further you are away from the point of detonation the better chance you have. ” ANYTHING within 3 miles of a “city killer’s” (+500KT) gets cooked. ANYTHING within 10 miles gets shredded/crushed. ANYTHING within 20 miles gets knocked over. BUT: For the big warheads (+1 MEGATON) the blast radius can extend for 75 miles.” If you are in or close to a primary target hug you loved one and say good by. Survival means not being within 20 miles of ground zero, and NO amount of “prepping” CAN save you if you are inside that radius. Rule of thumb: A one megaton bomb going off at 10000 feet AGL will kill everything within 20 miles. It will injure 90% of all life within 40 miles, and damage structures out to 75 miles. Russia- China-the US-Great Britton-France and India all have some 100,000 warheads larger than 1 to 20 megatons mounted on solid fuel ICBM’s ready to launch. You do the math top. PS —–The bombs that killed Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both “tac nukes” by todays standard, with a 15 KT warhead (Hiroshima) and 17 KT warhead (Nagasaki) . Or about 1/1000 the size of the bombs setting on top of your average ICBM in 2017. There is a death zone calculator on line for this. “Fallout shelters” (bunkers) are your ONLY hope if the world’s governments go crazy.

      • “City busting” went out of style in the 50’s and most warheads in both inventories are less than 500kt. The U.S. average warhead yield is 200kt. Ray’s post is not realistic. I’m not saying it’s a dance around the may pole but these scenarios are survivable. If you live IN a city this is just one more reason you’re a liberal idiot.

        • No SIR! Chinese and Russian ICBM warhead stockpiles are all 1 Megaton or larger. Only the US and Great Britton “down sized” in the 1990’s. The H-bomb “city killers are still very much “in play”. China has stated that it has no intent to ever “down size” its warheads and in fact seems to want ones with yealds in the Tsar Bomba range (+50 MT)

    • His number of total warheads is higher than the numbers at the peak of the cold war. Almost none of them are multi-megaton yield anymore because they are inefficient in terms of destruction for a given amount of nuclear material. It’s a blizzard of wrongness.

  3. Pingback: Two From MDT | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  4. Climbing down into a manhole is a catastrophically bad idea, unless you happen to have a gas sniffer with you. That guy in Hawaii who made his kids crawl into one is very lucky he didn’t asphyxiate them.

      • On manholes: the city I work in as EMS/Fire has it as a standby protocol that a confined space team is activated and on standby at times when access to sewers, manholes is required. The maintenance crews had a major issue many years ago w 1 after the other people entering a manhole like lemmings to rescue the person before them rapidly succumbing to the gasses below. Additionally, radiation fall out us heavy, low lying areas are safer from direct exposure to a blast, but rads also settle there, not to mention, who knows what would happen if control of the water ways went out, flooding, etc. I do like the key you showed thou. I suggest either a Hank of 550, or a 12′ loop of 1″ tubular webbing, has many uses, forced entry, rescue, etc. And carried in a cargo pocket can be attached to a a beaner or other object and used to pry the manhole cover.

  5. In a concrete walled basement, with a typical house overhead and dirt all around, and if the bomb detonates above the ground, you want to be against the wall on the side toward the blast. The radiation will have to travel through dirt to get to you. If you are on the far side wall, the radiation travels through the wood and air of the house.

    • This isn’t about radiation initially, it’s about surviving the blast (as I mentioned in the post). The last place you want to be is against a concrete wall that the shock of the blast wave is transmitted through. That force can break bones or even cause internal damage.

  6. Thanks JC good info is always appreciated…I would have to agree with Ray on Manholes and staying out of them and that’s because Ive worked in so many of them… Culverts would be the much better choice…

    • I agree they are not optimal. I listed areas in a town by the degree of protection they offer, and that’s why I started with building basements and parking garages. They offer more protection than a culvert, but there are trade offs.

  7. No “will make all the difference” was meant as a declarative statement, Distance from ground zero X depth of your cover, is the ONLY determinant factor in short term survival when a hydrogen bomb is detonated. At the “castile Bravo ” H-Bomb test (2.5 MILE wide crater) a group of scientist were cooked alive inside their underground bunker , by microwave radiation . Because the bunker was too close to the 12.5 MT detonation.. The scientist in the bunker 2.5 miles further away lived. Distance + cover is your one and only friend with H-bombs. You can dig in and survive a “Tac Nuke” of say 50 KT or less. Even if the detonation is nearby. But from 500 KT up, only distance+cover can save you. Heat, X-Ray’s , Gama radiation, and microwaves make survival , even underground with less than several ten’s of feet of the proper “Fill” around you ,impossible if you are within range of the fireball and it’s radiation “halo”. Even then the hard radiation from an H-Bomb will be a killer , making the soil itself clicking “hot” for century’s and exit from your bunker imposable . H-bombs and A-bombs are two very different animals. H-bombs are not only much bigger (10,000 times, or more, bigger) and hotter . But produce thousands of times the “hard” radiation of an A-bomb. Fallout comes later, and with H-bombs is millions of times worse than A-bombs . It has its own set of nightmare rules. ——–The fallout from “Castile Bravo” killed everyone under it–500 miles down range. 60+ years later those islands are still too radioactive to live on or visit. J .F. Kennedy was telling the truth when he said that: “The living will envy the dead after an atomic war”. The SAC bunkers and NORAD from the 50’s were only meant to keep the launch crews, and command staff alive until the launch phase of the war was over, and then only if they didn’t take a direct hit. None of them were ever equipped for long term survival. Their “sidearms” were meant to be used for suicide. It was a “given” by planning staff, that losses would reach 100% in the northern hemisphere. That’s why they call it M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction). You are not old enough to have heard “If the ICBM’s fly everyone dies–That day if they are lucky” . Its a SAC “joke” and truth of those men’s lives.

    • Whether it’s a bullet to the head, a conventional bomb, or a nuke, we can all figure that we are dead if impact is on our “X”. The only difference in any of them is the size/degree of the “X”, relative to our location. This post was about what is possible, not probable. If I wanted to write a doom and gloom post about a nuke alert, I’d just pull up some old commie funded, anti-nuke propaganda film and post that.

  8. Excellent Article, MDT. The naysayers who knocked it were mostly along the lines of “It doesn’t matter what You do, if the Bomb Hit Close, you’re Dead so Don’t Bother.” That’s a No Duh statement; if the Grenade lands in your Foxhole, you’re just as Dead. You can’t account for the Circular Error of Probability, whether it’s Hand Grenades or H-Bombs. What is Essential is to Have a Plan, and Knowledge, of how to Find and Utilize Available Cover.

    FWIW, when I was in 2nd Grade (1964) the Air Raid Siren in the Schoolyard went off (it was a Mechanical / Electrical Failure, only that Siren turned on) Within a Minute, the Principal had called on the Intercom, and we were Marching in File to the Basement, and into the Back Area that was a Heavy Blast/Fallout Shelter. Nobody Panicked, Kids or Adults because We had a PLAN and executed it.

  9. 90% of the projected casualties from the flash, blast and radiation afterwards are readily avoidable IF affected populations knew beforehand what to do and not do from the first instant of any surprise flash. Unfortunately they don’t, and worse, most think it’d be a waste of time futile effort to ever try and learn anything to help survive nukes. Read my ‘Physicians for Civil Defense’ article for the nuke prep how to’s here

    • “90% of the projected casualties from the flash, blast and radiation afterwards are readily avoidable IF affected populations knew beforehand what to do and not do from the first instant of any surprise flash.” Thus the reason I write these posts. It’s for those that were like I was as a teenager and said, “I CAN, now HOW do I do it?” not “Oh woe is me…what’s the point?”

  10. This is a productive mindset – thanks for the article.

    It’s true – if you’re too close, there’s nothing you can do, and if the bomb hits in the next time zone, you’re better off hitting a gas station and topping off the tank.

    Where these measures will matter is the edge cases – where you’re close enough to worry, but not so close that death is inevitable. Those are the cases where maybe you COULD survive – so why wouldn’t you do everything to give yourself every possible chance?

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