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You Will Survive Doomsday

This booklet was converted to HTML by our Ark Two Librarian, Fred Walter;
a lengthy task which, I for one, wish to express my appreciation.


You Will Survive Doomsday

By Bruce Beach


Copyright Information

This document is COPYLEFT. You are welcome to reproduce it,
however, for FREE distribution in whatever quantity you desire and by
whatever means you desire so long as you reproduce the entire document.
Extensive quotes are also welcomed so long as credit is properly given.

Our purpose in publishing this document is to ameliorate the effects
of a nuclear holocaust for as many people as we can reach, and to locate
as many people as we can who are willing and able to join our nuclear
survival group.

Table of Contents


Here are twenty-three myths that are repeatedly heard (some much more
often than others) that this document tries to dispel.

  • MYTH #01:
    Almost everyone will suddenly be killed on doomsday.
  • MYTH #02:
    Most people would be quickly killed by the bomb blasts, thermal
    radiation, or radioactivity.
  • MYTH #03:
    You can build an adequate shelter in your basement.
  • MYTH #04:
    You must filter the air coming into a shelter to remove the fallout.
  • MYTH #05:
    Water would become radioactive.
  • MYTH #06:
    There would be no dangerous radioactivity after a couple of weeks.
  • MYTH #07:
    Radiation sickness is not contagious so there is no danger in assisting
    those affected.
  • MYTH #08:
    Food exposed to radiation becomes radioactive and is therefore
    not edible.
  • MYTH #09:
    If you have a special radiation suit (like you see in the movies
    and on TV) you will be protected from the radiation.
  • MYTH #10:
    New crops of food grown in future years will not be radioactive.
  • MYTH #11:
    There is no such thing as a fallout pill.
  • MYTH #12:
    There is a fallout pill that will protect you from all radioactivity.
  • MYTH #13:
    There would be dangerous radioactivity for thousands of years.
  • MYTH #14:
    There would be no dangerous radioactivity after a couple of years.
  • MYTH #15:
    You are prepared if you have a two weeks emergency supply of food stored.
  • MYTH #16:
    You should be prepared to be self-sufficient and be able to survive
    on your own.
  • MYTH #17:
    Any survivors would have to live the rest of their lives underground.
  • MYTH #18:
    Life after doomsday won’t be worth living.
  • MYTH #19:
    You need not make any preparation because you are either going to die
    in the holocaust or be saved (religious connotation).
  • MYTH #20:
    The bombs today are so large and there are so many they will destroy
    the world.
  • MYTH #21:
    You will receive adequate warning from your government.
  • MYTH #22:
    You will receive no warning, and there is no hope if you do.
  • MYTH #23:
    One of the primary targets will be nuclear power plants.

This document is published by a nuclear survival group.
The group is not affiliated with any religious group or other organization.
We welcome inquiries from all persons interested in joining our survival
group. Send email to
(Bruce Beach) for more details.


MYTH #01: Almost everyone will suddenly be killed on doomsday.

You will survive doomsday. And here you thought that if it
ever happened the bomb would fall right on you. Probably not.
It will more likely go like this.

One day, the inferior Russian computers may make a mistake and decide
that the US has already launched a pre-emptory attack against Russia.
The US warning system has made that same sort of mistake many times
and a number of times we have gotten just minutes away from launching
our retaliation before the mistake was discovered. Who is to say the
Russians will always be so smart?

Forty minutes after a missile is launched from Russia it will be
landing on its target in North America. Before this occurs the US has
just minutes within which to respond or it will be caught with its
missiles down. The hotline to Russia happens to be not working (this
has also happened a number of times before). That is one of the factors
that entered into the Russians decision to launch.

So, what’s his name in the White House reaches for a jellybean and
pushes the button. Interception missiles of course try to stop the
Russian missiles before they reach their first two primary targets,
NORAD (NORthern Air Defense) headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado
and its backup at North Bay, Ontario.

These are hardened underground computer and communication sites that
may require several bombs to wipe them out. Given the number of
missiles that may be intercepted the Russians have sent a handful.

A better way to wipe out the communications of North America is to
just explode four thermonuclear devices at a high altitude over the
continent. These will generate an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) that will
knock out most electric and electronic devices tied into the power
grids. It will also knock out any new devices that contain IC’s
(integrated circuits) and that have an antenna over thirty inches long.
That means that your car radio, portable radio, and television will be
inoperable, even if the power ever does come back on.

All over the continent the power and lights will suddenly go off. If
you happen to be listening to a battery operated old tube type radio
(when did you last see one of those?) that is tuned into a “hardened”
transmitter sight (I don’t know where you will find one) that transmits
(fat chance) the EBS (Emergency Broadcast Signal) then you will know
that doomsday has begun.

Otherwise you will be standing out there with the rest of us
survivors saying, “Nice day, eh? Strange the power would go off on
a nice day like this.” Silence. The sun will continue to shine,
and the birds will sing, and the breezes will blow and you will still
not know that they have a bit of a problem up in North Bay.
They are no longer there. Silence.

Eventually word may drift in. On the chance that there is something
to the rumor you decide to try to call someone. Your spouse, a friend,
a relative. Don’t bother. Silence. The telephone isn’t working
either. Even if the EMP hadn’t done it in, a mere power outage causes
such an overload of demand on the central exchange that you couldn’t
even get a dial tone.

You are a survivor. Doomsday has occurred and you are a
survivor. While you are waiting for the spouse and kids to get home
maybe you should do something practical. Like go down to the
supermarket and lay in a bit of an extra stock.

You may notice that the little corner store has closed. If he has
believed the rumor, he wants to save his stock. And besides, your money
may not be worth anything tomorrow. You thought you had seen rapid
inflation before but this is like from zero to a million in sixty

At the supermarket, if you are early enough, you will find pandemonium.
If not, you will find practically nothing. Maybe a large bag of dog food
(take it) and some cans of floor wax (forget it). The rest of the stuff
was all in those carts that you met come flying up the walk as you came
running down.

There won’t be any girls at the cash registers, (they have done their
shopping and gone). Besides, the cash registers aren’t working anyhow,
with no power. It may have taken the hired manager a little longer to
figure out that he should grab what he can and head home to his family,
but he has probably gone now. The only cops you will see are the one’s
grabbing stuff themselves.

If on the way back you spot a shopping basket with something in it – think
twice before helping yourself. If there is an altercation there are
probably no doctors at the hospital to sew up the lacerations.
Everyone else is also too busy to bother calling an ambulance,
if they could, and one wouldn’t be available if they did.

Of course the trip to the supermarket may have been nothing like that
at all. It may have just been a bit more active than usual but if most
people haven’t caught on yet then we are very lucky. You just keep
mumbling under your breath. “Good people, good people – that’s the
way, that’s the way, just stay calm.” This way we can just go about
doing what we have to do as quickly as we can, while trying to not stir
up panic. “Yes. I understand the cash registers aren’t working
but please let me just help you add this up by hand. No, that’s fine,
just keep the change.”

Then, of course, if everything is really this calm we can take that
good old plastic credit card and go out and buy all the good survival
stuff that we are going to need and should have gotten beforehand.
Don’t worry about paying for it, no one is ever going to send you a bill.
Getting the stuff home may be a bit of a problem if the car isn’t
working (the EMP may have wiped out that fancy electronic ignition).
“No, that’s fine. You don’t need to deliver it. I’ll just put it
here in my little red wagon.” But you sure don’t want to lug it all
the way up to your thirty-second floor apartment, if there is somewhere
safe that you can stash it. “Can you really believe that people
are staying this calm? How is it that we seem to be so much smarter
than the rest?”

More than likely you are now back home and all you have is the
fifty-pound bag of dog food. Are you really going to be able to carry
it up to your thirty-second floor apartment? You know the elevators
aren’t working of course. Then maybe you could hide it in the trunk of
your car in the garage- if no one sees you.

Ah, back home in the apartment. Home sweet home. The kids are home
from school now. Do you have enough guts after that scene at the
supermarket to send them out to do some more scavenging? It isn’t
exactly a party going on out there. Did you see Watts, Detroit,
Washington D.C., and Baltimore after some of their similar parties?
I did. I think I would keep the kids home. Not much you can do except
to wait for the spouse to walk home. Shouldn’t be more than a few hours.

The spouse finally makes it home. “What do you mean all you got
is fifty pounds of dog food? We don’t even have a dog.” The
electricity isn’t on. We can’t cook anything anyway. Best to eat
everything out of the refrigerator before it spoils. Won’t be anymore
water as soon as the gravity feed tanks on the roof empty. Hope you
saved a few pot’s full. If everyone filled up their bathtubs – it is all
gone. It has gotten cold. Might as well go to bed. There is no light to
see anything by anyway. Certainly not going out in those streets in this
dark with all that noise going on down there. Hopefully, everything will
look brighter in the morning.

Day Two

Morning comes early with the noise of people throwing pots and pans
over the sides of their balconies along with the blankets, pillows and
other things that it saves them carrying down. Apparently some of the
residents are moving out. Perhaps you should too.

Everything looks better in the light, doesn’t it? TV still doesn’t
come on. Telephone isn’t working either. And you know what – the toilet
doesn’t flush. Can’t cook anything. Got to eat what you’ve got. See,
that wasn’t so bad. Make it sort of a picnic. Eat it right out of the can.
There is not going to be any water to wash dishes.

But see, we survived doomsday. Didn’t even see an explosion,
hear a bomb, or anything. Maybe we should sit down together and try to
figure out what we are going to do from here. The bombs may still be
coming. Probably are.

If the attacker’s plans have gone according to schedule they have
probably finished with their primary targets. They have hit the three
Titan Wings in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas (three wings, eighteen
missiles each, for a total or fifty-four) or the things have landed in
Russia by now, so why bother. They have certainly been knocking the
bejammers out of Montana and the Dakotas. Can’t hear or see a thing
from here of course. [Author’s update note: This point is a little
dated. The Titan Wings have been decommissioned and both the U.S. and
Russia have now put much greater reliance upon the MUCH greater and
more reliable destructive power of MIRVed warheads aboard nuclear
submarines. The primary targets are now most likely submarine bases,
to prevent more subs from leaving port. Further update as of January 1st, 2002. The world keeps changing. Now not only Russia has missiles that can reach the US but China does also. There are now 14 nuclear nations and the number is growing).

Then they will start on the secondary targets. All the SAC
(Strategic Air Command) bases both in the US and around the rest of
the world. Oh, they have lots to keep them busy for a while. Cities
themselves are pretty far down the list. Maybe they won’t even go for
them. Any airport with over a ten thousand foot runway is pretty
important however because the SAC could land and refuel their bomber
there. So you know where that puts us. They will probably get around
to us in the next day or two.

There are two strategies of warfare. One is called counterforce and
the other is called countervalue. With counterforce you knockout the
enemy’s forces so he can’t harm you. This can be very chivalrous like
the fighting codes of the knights of old. You never harm the women and

On the other hand, with countervalue, you go after everything
the enemy holds dear in order to demoralize him. This was the technique
of the Mongolian hordes.

“Take no prisoners.” “Eliminate the enemy.”
“The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” “Eliminate the Jews.” “Sock
it to the Japs.”

Women, children, babies, everybody goes.

Now the problem with countervalue warfare is if everybody knows they
are either going to win or die, some people can get very tough.
So maybe the best thing is to knockout the military forces and hold
the cities as hostage. “Now, either surrender or we bomb the cities.”
Anyway, the cities aren’t generally the first targets.

And so here we sit. Unscratched, the day after doomsday.
But we can see some problems on the horizon. Very possibly the city is
going to be bombed in the next day or two. Even if it isn’t, how can we
stay here? The electricity is off. The heat is off. The water is off.
And it isn’t coming back on. The elevators aren’t working. For older
people it is “If we go down (if they can go down), we can’t come back up.”

There is no more food in the grocery store. And there won’t be any
more. (Unless you believe your government, which says they will start
delivering it in about two weeks – want to bet?). Then there is that
horrible stuff called fallout that is going to start showing up in about
twenty-four to forty-eight hours, or sooner.

Now, we have all seen or heard about the book and the movie “On The Beach”,
and Beach himself shows up with the solution. A pocket full of
cyanide pills. If you want one he will give you one for each of your kids
or grandkids. There is only one catch. There are only so many and I don’t
want them wasted. So you will have to line up each of your children or
grandchildren in a row and pop it down their throats right while I am here.
How many of you will do it? “Here is your vitamin. Open wide…”

No? Then you really are a survivor. Here you always said you hoped
the bomb would fall right on you and then when I offered you an easy out…
Oh well, it won’t be that bad. A world without electricity, automobiles,
radio, television, telephones, and supermarkets. And maybe eventually with
only twenty million people in North America. (They won’t all be Canadians).

But then, that is the kind of world that was here in 1800.
The people then didn’t have cars, supermarkets, movies, TV, radio,
telephones, modern medicine, airplanes, rockets, and computers.
And they survived. They may have even enjoyed life. Maybe even more than
many people do today with all their drugs, tranquilizers, and what have you.

People generally are survivors. Put them out on an ice floe in the middle
of the arctic with no expectation of rescue, no supplies – nothing – and they
will hold on. Some will even survive until they happen to be rescued.

So you are a survivor and you survived doomsday. But you will eventually die.
We will all eventually die. That is the nature of this world. The question
is not whether or not you will possibly die, but how long you will live,
and what life will be like during that time.

So you have survived. And if you and your kids are going to continue
to survive you had better get the heck out of the city. Not only is
there the possibility that there will be bombs but those little scenes
down at the supermarket, or anywhere else a little bit of food happens
to show up, are going to become more and more unpleasant as anarchy

Moreover, without the toilets flushing and with no one removing the
dead bodies, health conditions are really going to reach a state you
just wouldn’t want me to describe. So, off to the country. But, how?
And, where?

Before actually departing for the country let us further consider the
alternative of staying in the city. Perhaps you are convinced that the
Russians would never really get around to bombing your city. Or you
feel you have sufficient underground shelter if they do. Nothing,
of course, would protect you if there were a direct hit on your shelter,
but a good bomb shelter could certainly give you very good protection as
little as five miles from ground zero.

The trouble is that subways and underground garages are not designed
as blast shelters. They do not have blast vents and doors. Anyone in
such a place, at the time of blast, within a couple of miles of ground
zero will be subjected to a phenomenon called popcorning. Minute
particles of greatly accelerated sand will cause blisters to pop out all
over exposed parts of the body. This, combined with several other
pathological mechanisms, will probably result in a rather painful death
within a few days.

Although the blast protection in an underground shelter is much
superior to being above ground there are reasons that one is better off
staying in their high-rise apartment rather than going to a large public
shelter if they feel there is little or no danger of blast.

The public shelters have no supplies and no equipment. The average
designated public shelter is supposed to shelter over three thousand
people. Can you imagine the anarchy and conditions there? Without
food, the first to die will be infants who are not being breast fed.
Other early candidates will be persons who require special medications
(especially the elderly) and anyone who happens to be injured.

Not only will deaths have negative psychological effects on the
survivors, they will create severe sanitation problems. There will be
enough sanitation problems anyway if the water and sewage systems are
not working. Most of the designated shelter locations do not have
sanitary provision for three thousand people in the first place.

One of the greatest hazards in an underground shelter is carbon
dioxide poisoning. The designated public shelters, almost without
exception, do not have adequate ventilation for large numbers of people
over a considerable period of time. And the existing ventilation
systems generally depend upon electricity being available.

There are ventilation defense and survival techniques available.
However, if you were to try to implement them in a large public shelter
situation you would probably be one of the first persons killed by the
other survivors. The reason is that most people have misconceptions
about either the air becoming radioactive, or containing radioactive
particles that they feel would be more dangerous than the carbon

Add to these problems the fact that you might not have any light in
the shelter, that anarchy may become rampant, and that there will almost
certainly be no food, and perhaps, more importantly, no water and you
will see why no trained survivalist would want to be caught dead in the

Returning to one’s own high rise apartment, after the danger of blast
is past, gives much more favorable opportunities for continued survival
than given by remaining in a public shelter. If you are ten or fifteen
stories above the ground the distance will probably adequately protect
you from any radiation from the fallout on the ground. If there are ten
or more stories above your head then that distance will also protect you
from fallout on the roof.

The apartment dweller should try to secure an inner room without any
windows. A blast fifteen or more miles away will knock out the windows
and it is the glass shards that will kill most people. Pulling drapes
and blinds are all helpful defenses. A blast wave will be preceded by a
brilliant flash of light. The survivor will have from several seconds
to three or four minutes, depending upon the distance from the blast, to
duck behind a sofa or to take other shelter.

Training oneself to take similar immediate defensive action can also
help give protection from the intense thermal radiation that accompanies
a nuclear blast, and that can start fires fifteen to twenty miles
from ground zero. Fires, in themselves, can be a problem and if you are
downwind from a large fire or firestorm you have to watch out for carbon
monoxide poisoning.

Fire defense techniques are generally well known so I will not dwell
upon them here. One thing you need not do is call the fire department,
if you could. There is little they could do, if they were still around,
without central water supplies. But the thing you can do is improvise
closings to seal off all the apartments above you, and those immediately
below you, so that fallout will not blow in and settle on the floors
over your head, or otherwise near you.

Now, it may be possible to organize your activities with other survivors
to become a cliff dweller like those of old. A bucket on a rope might be
used to haul up water gotten from a nearby stream or pond, and waste could
be let down in the same way.

Some ingenuity may be required in providing heat and light, but if
you really have sufficient supplies of food for yourself and your fellow
survivors to hold out until another crop can be planted and harvested
(most survivalists recommend at least two years supply), and you
seriously face up to the sanitation problems created by morbidity, and
you and your co-survivors are sufficiently organized against anarchy,
and there are no more nearer bomb blasts – then you are probably well on
your way towards continued survival. At least you are many times better
off than being in a public shelter.

There may be all sorts of reasons why you elect to remain in the city
rather than head for the country. If the attack comes in the winter and
you do not have a planned escape route, adequate clothing and supplies
to make the trip, are not physically able to make the trip, and do not
have a known destination of refuge, well then…

Those who have most prepared themselves and have made the best plans
should pray that their flight does not come in the winter. During a
storm, or severely cold weather, it is very likely that many more
persons may be killed by exposure than by any other single cause. The
roads and highways will most likely be jammed. If there has been an
explosion in the vicinity then overpasses and utility lines may have
been dropped onto the roadways making them unusable.

Even without a blast having occurred, traffic jams, accidents, or
vehicles just running out of gas will probably create bottlenecks that
completely clog the roads. Once people find themselves just sitting
there, not moving, they will abandon their vehicles. My guess is you
can forget using an automobile for escape unless you had a plan and
immediately implemented it before the general panic set in.

A motorcycle, scooter, or even a bicycle might offer certain
advantages over an automobile. One might carry a smaller form of
conveyance on a larger one and then implement the smaller means of
conveyance, such as a bicycle, when that became the necessity.

The most dependable means of escape would probably remain walking.
If one had to walk all the way out, and they were in any physical shape
at all, they could surely do it in two or three days. Once again,
proper preparation can make all the difference. Proper walking gear,
proper survival clothing, a planned escape route, proper selection of
material to be packed, and proper allocation of loads.

And, as before, there are better alternatives. One could have
pre-arranged pickup points and times with co-survivors coming from the
refuge destination, or in a worsening pre-crisis situation you may have
made an early dispersal. But the greater likelihood is that anyone with
a practical survival plan who reacts immediately can get out well before
the rush sets in.

Just getting out into the country, or to the other side of the
mountain, will increase the survivability factors for many people. The
threats of blast and thermal radiation will have been greatly reduced.
But blast and thermal radiation while very nasty in their effects are
not going to kill that many people anyway. Oh, they will kill millions,
but as a percentage of the people living the day before doomsday they
will, combined, kill only ten to fifteen percent. And most of these
will be a considerable distance from the blast and will eventually die
as a result of injuries caused by the broken glass shards.

As stated before, depending upon the time of year and the weather,
many more may be killed by exposure. But there is still another big
killer coming. That is of course the fallout from the weapon explosions
that took place many hundreds of miles away. This fallout may require
from a few hours to a day or two to arrive. If the weather permits, and
the survivors know what they are doing, they may still have time to
build an expedient shelter against the fallout.

Techniques for defense against fallout have been developed and tested
at great expense by almost every nuclear nation. While information on
these techniques has been made readily available, most people have not
availed themselves of it.

Two basic techniques are available. One is to leave the contaminated area.
But the extent of the contaminated area may be far too wide to escape,
or one may not have accurate information as to the delineation of the
contaminated area, or they may not have the means of transportation,
nor the means of survival should they reach a radiation free area.

The other basic means is to provide shelter within the contaminated area.
Weather, ground, and time conditions permitting it is possible to dig a
trench and cover it with dirt supported by poles, wooden doors, or a vehicle.
Properly designed, such an expedient shelter can make all the difference
between avoiding the effects of fallout radiation, and not avoiding
those effects.

The details of how to build an expedient shelter are to be found in
books listed in the bibliography.
One of the most important and often overlooked factors in designing
a shelter is the matter of providing an airpump so as to eliminate the
problem of carbon dioxide poisoning. The technique for building such
an expedient pump from materials readily available in time of crisis
is also found there.

The effect of fallout radiation is not always death, although many
times it is. Even if it is death it is not immediate death. Intense
radiation causes a very painful, and horrible death (what the literature
calls a hard death) over several days. More likely the effects are
drawn out over a period of weeks, months, or even years. As the title
of this document points out, all these people will have survived
doomsday. It is not a question of survival but the condition of
survival with which we must concern ourselves. Everyone will die
eventually but it is the quality of life in the interim that is of

MYTH #02 Most people would be quickly killed by the bomb blasts,
thermal radiation, or radioactivity.

By the second year after doomsday the combined affects of blast,
thermal radiation, and fallout will probably have resulted in some
immediate, but mostly delayed, deaths accumulating to 35% of the
population that were living on doomsday. Deaths that can be directly
attributed to radiation and weapon related injuries will continue until
five years after doomsday so that by that time 40% of the population
that was living on doomsday may no longer be surviving because of the
above named factors.

However, the total population surviving five years after doomsday
will probably be only 20% of the number that was living on doomsday)
Obviously, nearly half, or perhaps more than half, of the fatalities
will be directly contributable to causes other than the bombs.

What then are these equally effective causes of post doomsday mortality?
They are exposure, starvation, plagues, and anarchy. While the threat of
chemical and biological warfare is not to be ignored the primary causes of
these means of mortality can be looked upon as being more natural.
That is to say they will just result naturally from the breakdown of the
social infrastructure that we regularly depend upon for day to day survival.

The four factors that will determine survival are

  • Location
  • Knowledge
  • Preparation
  • Luck

On doomsday most people will be living outside of areas that will be
struck in initial attacks by blast or thermal radiation. Many others
will already be living in areas that will never be damaged by blast or
thermal radiation. Both of these groups, if they have the knowledge of
what to do, and have made the proper preparations, will very likely find
themselves in the group of survivors who are living unharmed five years
after doomsday when the surviving population has once again established
some semblance of order and is once again multiplying and replenishing
the earth.

Selecting and Designing a Shelter

MYTH #03: You can build an adequate shelter in your basement.

For a number of reasons, basement shelters do not offer the amount of
protection that is commonly supposed. A proper analogy between them and
a survival installation as described later in this document would be to
compare a plank with a well-equipped and commanded lifeboat. This is
not to say, that if someone finds themselves in the water from a sunken
vessel, it is not well to advise them to grab hold of a plank and start
paddling in the direction that one hopes there lies shore, if there is
no better means of survival, such as a lifeboat, or raft.

Similarly, there is very little protection afforded (starting from
the rooftop down) by a layer of shingles, a foot or two of light
insulation (composed mainly of air-spaces for the purpose of retaining
heat), a quarter to half inch of plaster board, some paint, a carpet on
the floor, another layer or two of thin boards, and perhaps some
paneling or ceiling tiles if the basement is finished. The distance
between the roof and the basement (a two-story house offers more than
a bungalow in this way) does allow some additional protection, but this
factor, along with the combined density of all the matter described,
would not equal more protection than would be afforded by six to eight
inches of earth.

When, within such a basement situation, one starts to create an
expedient shelter using, as is usually advised, such materials as
bookcases and trunks (filled with earth if possible), there are certain
design errors that are liable to creep in. Piling dirt or other
material on the floor above will help but the greatest dangers will be
from the areas outside the basement wall where the foundation extends
above the ground. It is best to keep ones shelter at least three feet
below the outside ground level, and to have at least three feet of soil
above one’s head.

The next most overlooked problem is that of proper ventilation, so as
to avoid carbon dioxide poisoning. As stated before, most survival
experts advise a location other than the basement for such reasons as
the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning in case of fire, broken gas
mains, and the threat of fire itself that may result from the wide
spread firestorms caused by the thermal radiation associated with a
nuclear blast.

There are certain advantages to a basement shelter. One may have access
to necessities such as food, clothing, and blankets stored in the home.
There may still be water available from the hot water tank. And, most
importantly, one may feel certain psychological comfort by being in
the familiar surroundings of their own home. None of these advantages
of course hold a candle to the advantage of being in a properly equipped
and manned survival center.

MYTH #04: You must filter the air coming into a shelter to remove the

One of the general misconceptions regarding fallout and fallout
shelters is that the air itself may become radioactive. This is simply
not true. Those with a little learning will then say “Ah, yes, but
it will contain radioactive particles of fallout”. That is true,
but a properly designed air intake, even for an expedient shelter, will
cause most of the particles to drop out of the air flow before the air
enters the shelter.

Should the number of particles still suspended in the air be a
problem, an expedient filter, such as a damp sheet hung in the air
intake passageway, will do an adequate job of filtering the air.

If the air vents do not have automatic blast valves then the air
passage should be quickly shut and remain shut for a few minutes after
the brilliant flash of a nearby nuclear explosion (so as to prevent the
popcorning effect described earlier). The air passages will have to be
shut in every case where there is a large fire nearby that is generating
carbon monoxide that would otherwise seep into the shelter.

Most expedient shelters will not have precautions such as those just
described. The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the main
reasons that most survival experts recommend that even if one has a
basement in their house it is preferable to build an expedient shelter
a considerable distance outside and away from existing structures in case
of fire.

MYTH #05: Water would become radioactive.

As has been mentioned before, the materials necessary for building an
airpump, and an expedient radiation detector, are available in almost
every home. Anyone planning on attempting to use the basement survival
method should obtain ahead of time the detailed instructions for
building these devices, and store these instructions in their home,
along with an emergency supply of food and containers for storing
approximately 14 gallons of water for each individual that is going to
be accommodated.

There is a similar misconception about water becoming radioactive as
there is about air becoming radioactive. This may have something to do
with misconceptions about the nature of heavy water, but we won’t
go into that here. Radioactive particles do become suspended in water,
however, and that is why for the shelter confinement period, you must
make sure that you have a sufficient store of potable water available
ahead of time.

During the recovery period, after radiation has decreased to the
point where it is safe to work outside, there are techniques for letting
fallout settle out of water, and for distilling water, in order to make
sure that it is safe for drinking and cooking. However, far from
keeping air and water out of a shelter, it is absolutely necessary to
life that they be available.

While an expedient shelter could mean the difference between life and
death, it is probably not something that you would want to continue to
use for a very long time.

MYTH #06: There would be no dangerous radioactivity after a couple of

There is a wide range of misconceptions about what is safe and what is not.
The matter is sufficiently complicated that a person should have professional
advice. However, if there was no doctor going to be available to set
a broken leg I presume you would go ahead and do the best you could.
And if one had to build a bridge to get across a river and there was no
structural engineer around, again I presume one would have a go at it.

Doctor’s would like to have their x-ray machines available when setting a leg,
and engineers would like to have their surveying equipment, specification
guides, and computers or slide rules when they are building a bridge.
So you can well imagine a radiological defense officer would like to have
radiation detection equipment available when giving advice in a radiation
defense situation.

However, if the advise, expertise, or equipment, is not available,
one must go on. One rule of thumb is that if there is not enough
fallout that you can see it, then there is not enough of it that it will
kill you. Fallout is usually small grain dust or grit, often having a light
color, but not always. It depends upon its source. The best place to
spot it is on a smooth surface, like the hood of a car.

The more dense fallout is, probably the greater the hazard, although
there isn’t necessarily a direct correlation. It may fall thick enough
that quite a little heap of it may be brushed up from a surface that is
one foot square. It is possible to build, from common materials found
around the home, an expedient radiation detection meter. The details
for such a meter are found in books listed in the

Even if one has commercially available radiation detection equipment
there is still some considerable skill required in its use. For
example, almost all survey equipment is designed to be used by an adult
of normal stature. This means that if the equipment is held in the hand
of a walking adult it will tell how much radiation is being received 3 1/2
feet above the ground, and particularly by the adults vital organs
which are above that level. A child’s or an infant’s vital organs will
be below that level and will be exposed to much more hazardous levels
than an adult’s. For this reason, if one is passing through an area
that is suspected to have any radiation at all, a child should be
carried on an adult’s shoulders.

There is another rule of thumb that for every seven fold increase in
time radioactivity will decrease by ten fold. This is called the
seven/ten rule. This is based upon standard decay. It is useful as an
example, for training, and in building theoretical models, but in actual
practice the decay rate is likely to be something quite different.
It is determined by the isotopic composition of the matter under

There is another commonly held misconception among semi-trained
individuals that low levels of radiation cannot be rapidly fatal.
Someone, after several days in the confines of a cramped expedient shelter,
might conclude that because their meters now indicate a very low level
of radioactivity (or perhaps no radioactivity if it is a high-range
instrument), that it would now be all right to go outside and sleep on
the ground in the cool breezes beneath the bright summer stars.

The fallacy again arises from taking measurements at a level that assumes
the vital organs are well above the radiation source. This is not the case
when a person is stretched out on the ground for long hours of sleep.
These long hours of low level radiation exposure to the vital
organs will result in a fatality in just a few days.

Likewise, perfectly healthy adults who take infants out of the
cramped, unpleasant, expedient shelter to allow them to play during the
day on a blanket spread out on the ground will be quite shocked to see
those infants sicken and die in just a few days while they themselves
remain healthy. The infant’s vital organs again being close to the weak
radiation source for a long period while the adults’ vital organs are
being protected by distance.

MYTH #07: Radiation sickness is not contagious so there is no danger
in assisting those affected.

The statement that radiation sickness is not contagious is often
found in the literature. That is true. The erroneous conclusion is
drawn, however, that being around persons with radiation sickness is not
dangerous. The danger arises from the manner in which radiation kills.

Sufficient radiation can cook the vital organs, but more often what
happens is that it kills the white corpuscles and the ability of the
bone marrow to make more of them. It is the white corpuscles that are
the body’s defenders against viruses, bacteria, and other disease
causing bodies.

Once these defenders are lost the person succumbs to a disease they
might have otherwise warded off, and once that disease takes hold in the
individual they may become highly contagious.

In this manner there is grave danger of plagues breaking out, and all
sorts of illnesses one does not generally see, becoming very threatening.
For this reason rigorous quarantine, sanitary measures, and health defense
measures must be imposed and enforced.

Becoming aware of such unexpected and unpleasant snares may initially
make one feel that the situation is hopeless. The danger really arises
from a person’s unfamiliarity with the circumstances. There is the
story of the explorer who asked the young native if there were
crocodiles in a certain stream. He was assured there were not. While
then swimming in the stream he once again saw the young lad on the bank
and asked for reassurance that there were no crocodiles. “Oh no sir!”,
replied the shocked young fellow, “They won’t come here.
They are all afraid of the piranha.”

The young fellow would have found himself equally in danger from
things with which he was not familiar in our society, like automobiles
and electrical appliances. It is not that the hazards are so onerous,
but simply that we are not familiar with them.

FOOD – Some Important Considerations

MYTH #08: Food exposed to radiation becomes radioactive and is
therefore not edible.

Food is the most serious problem. Most food that is in the house
will not be harmed by the radiation, no matter how intense. There are
three types of radiation that are found in fallout. Alpha particles,
beta particles, and gamma rays. As the first two names indicate, they
are particles. They are minute (too small to be seen) pieces of atomic
matter that attach themselves to the fallout (bits of dust that may or
may not be large enough to be seen).

In any case, these particles may be simply washed off many types of
foods that have a natural covering, such as eggs, bananas, potatoes,
oranges, etc., or off well sealed foods such as those in vacuum packed
cans. Foods such as grains (rice, dry cereals, etc.) that are in
partially used packages that have been opened should be viewed with
suspicion. Fallout dust may have crept in.

The food in its unopened container or natural covering should be
rinsed under flowing water and then placed on a surface that has been
similarly cleansed, before opening. Make sure that the hands (and under
the nails) have been thoroughly cleansed before handling the food.
There is little danger in handling such articles. The radiation given
off by these particles is so weak that it will often not even penetrate
something as thin as the cellophane wrapper on a package of cigarettes.

You may then ask “Why, then, be concerned?” The reason is that once these minute
particles are ingested into the biological system they will get into
the organs and the very bone marrow itself where they can do a lot of damage.
This is not to say that you need not worry about getting the alpha and beta
particles on your skin. You do. Because they can cause skin burns.
However, good hygiene practice can eliminate that problem but they are
a much more severe hazard internally than externally.

MYTH #09: If you have a special radiation suit like you see in the
movies and on TV you will be protected from the radiation.

As an aside, this is one of the reasons that those fallout or
radiation suits
that you see in all the pictures and movies and on TV
are such a joke. Those things are not going to protect the guy from
anything, that a couple of good garbage bags wrapped around his feet and
made into a hood to go over his head, would not do as well. In fact the
garbage bags are in many ways better. They would be considered disposable.

The main purpose of the fallout suits is to prevent the wearer from
tracking the fallout into the shelter. The user simply takes the suit
off at the door. If the person were to wear it on inside, it would
defeat the purpose. There are some clean handling techniques that are
beneficial to know and practice, but in a wartime situation there is so
much of the stuff around that peacetime standards of exposure and
cleanliness lose their meaning.

The gamma rays are another matter. They are very penetrating.
No fallout or radiation suit is going to protect you from them.
It requires much more dense matter to protect you than you could lift,
let alone lug around. This is why one must remain in a shelter when there
is intense radiation. With good housekeeping there should not be so
much dust inside a shelter as to create a hazard from gamma rays.
However, be sure to dispose of the contaminated rinse water that you
have used for cleaning the food containers and persons returning from
outside. It may contain matter that is giving off gamma rays.

There will probably not be sufficient fallout on the food packages
(or you can get rid of it quickly enough) that you need concern yourself
about the amount of gamma radiation that you are going to get from that
source during the decontamination process. However, the food may have
been stored in an area that has received very intense radiation.
That can of beans or peaches may have been stored right out there where
it was receiving 1000 roentgens of radiation per hour. An amount that
would have killed you right away. But it will not be harmed.

That is right. It is perfectly edible. If it were not so I would
have told you. It is only living things that radiation hurts.
Even then it depends upon the frequency and intensity of the radiation.
For example, there are all sorts of radio and TV waves going right through
where you are sitting right now and they are not harming you.

The food in the can is already dead and the gamma rays are not going
to harm it. They will not make it radioactive. If the radiation is
strong enough it may kill any bacteria that happen to still be living in
the food and thus preserve it even further. If the food is supposed to
contain bacteria (such as yogurt) I am not sure what it would do for that!

Radiation preservation of food is a technique that is already being
used in industry and will probably become much more widely used in
future years. Many people already have radiation (microwave) ovens in
their homes today. One further analogy. Fire will kill living animals
but we use it to cook our food. You really shouldn’t be overly
frightened about radiation, either.

MYTH #10: New crops of food grown in future years will not be

Food that is grown in radioactive soil, or that has not yet been
harvested when, fallout falls on it is another matter. This food will
absorb the particles of radioactive matter into its own structure and
thus become dangerous.

The biological food chain acts as a marvelous strainer and
concentrator of radioactive isotopes. This was well demonstrated in
certain tests that took place at Almagordo. From some intentional
surface bursts and because of the unintentional venting of some
underground bursts there was some fallout carried onto the milkshed for
southern Utah.

The amount of fallout deposited over the surface was so slight that
the most selective instruments could not detect it. An atomic or
nuclear explosion releases its great amounts of energy by changing some
matter into energy. It also changes certain amounts of matter into new
and different types of matter. Without going into detail about atomic
theory, the nature of the atom with its electron rings, and its nucleus
consisting of protons and varying number of neutrons, let us simply say
that these new forms of matter are generally unstable isotopes.
That means they are going to change into another form of matter.

Once again, the matter, in the process of changing from one state to
another, releases certain amounts of energy. It is this energy that we
measure as radioactivity. The energy, depending upon the isotope
involved, may be rapidly dispelled or it may continue to be released for
a very, very long time. Most unstable isotopes release their energy and
transform into a stable state within fractions of a second or at least
within minutes after a nuclear explosion. Others take hours, and still
others days, weeks, or months. Some take centuries.

Each isotope starts out with just so much energy. For all practical
purposes we can say it is not going to get any more. Once that isotope
has released all its excess energy it will become stable. Since the
isotope releases its energy at a specified rate we can say how long it
will take to lose half of its energy. After that, it will then take the
same length of time again for it to lose (give off) one half of the
remaining amount of energy. Question: When will all of the energy
be given off by the isotope?

An ancient Greek philosopher posed the same problem. He said,
“Suppose there is a bear at the back of a cave. On the first day
the bear walks halfway to the entrance. On the next day he walks half
of the distance that remained to the entrance after the first day. And
on the day following the bear walks half of the distance that remained
to the entrance from the previous day. The bear continues to do this
same thing on each subsequent day. He walks half of the distance to
entrance of what was left from the previous day. The question is: when
will the bear get out of the cave?”

The answer is: “Never.” This sort of regression is what
mathematicians call asymptotic. That is to say the figures continue to
approach zero, closer and closer, but they never reach it. So just as
the bear never gets out of the cave, all of the energy is never lost.
But much (one half) of the energy is lost in the first half-life. And
three quarters of the energy is lost by the end of the second half-life.
After ten half lives a very large percentage of the energy is gone.

It is because so much of the energy is lost in the early periods
(half-lives), as compared to the later periods, that it is important to
be in shelter during the early periods after fallout has fallen.
We might divide the half-life times of radioactive isotopes into three
categories. Very short term, medium term, and very long term.

As mentioned earlier, most of the unstable isotopes generated by an
atomic or nuclear explosion are very short term. They give off all
their significant amounts of energy in a matter of seconds. Unless you
are within very close range of an atomic or nuclear bomb there will be
no way for this radiation to reach you. It was this initial radiation
that caused the horrible radiation burns and sickness at Hiroshima and

First the good news. There will not be any persons subjected to long
suffering from the initial radiation by the nuclear weapons of today.
The bad news is that the reason why is that the weapons blast such a
large hole or create such a large area of complete destruction that the
initial radiation can’t escape. That is to say the totally destructive
blast extends beyond the range of the initial radiation.

On the other hand, the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not
have much problem with fallout. The first major victims of fallout were
some fishermen many, many miles downwind from the Bikini Island tests.
Fallout is a phenomenon much more associated with nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, there was fallout in Southern Utah. As stated before,
it was so slight it could not be detected by the most sensitive instruments.
The specific matter of interest in southern Utah was the isotope 131 of
iodine. This was absorbed by minute bacteria in the soil. In the process
of filtering the iodine out of the soil the bacteria greatly concentrated it.

The bacteria were absorbed by legumes and other biological forms higher in
the food chain. Each in turn further concentrated the iodine isotope.

Finally, after the iodine had found its way into the grass a cow came
along and ate it. Now a cow is a very complex organism in itself.
There are all sorts of biological activities going on in a cow. Various
organs and the bone marrow filter out different minerals for different
purposes. One of these complex systems forms milk. This particular
cow, and hundreds of others like it, was milked, and the milk was
bottled and distributed to children all over the area of southern Utah.

The children were also complex biological organisms. They in turn
had numbers of specific organs that specialized in straining out various
minerals and compounds from the food that they consumed. The end result
was that their thyroids once again concentrated the iodine 131.
And this to such an extent that if you held a radiation detector next to
their necks it buzzed like a rattlesnake. This was not healthy.

In fact numerous problems developed among the population. There were
a great number of mentally retarded children born, and a number of other
unpleasant ramifications. This need not have occurred from the iodine
131 if we had known what we know today.

MYTH #11: There is no such thing as a fallout pill.

There is a simple pill that would have prevented the difficulty.
It is supplied in every nuclear emergency kit in Russia and available
in Denmark and Sweden. Unfortunately it is not sold in North America.

Fortunately, however, the pill is quite simple to make. Ahead of time,
obtain a quantity of potassium iodide from your local drug store.
Five dollars worth should be lots. When needed, take a regular glass
and fill it a fourth or less full of water, and then slowly start
pouring in the potassium iodide while thoroughly stirring the water.

Don’t worry about how much you pour in. You cannot pour in too much.
After a while you will notice that the chemical no longer dissolves in
the water. It just lies there on the bottom. This means that the water
is saturated. You can now stop pouring in the chemical. More will not
help or hurt.

Next take an eyedropper, or a soaked piece of paper if you do not
have an eyedropper, and drop four drops onto a little piece of bread for
an adult. Or two drops for a child. If you get several times that
amount it is not going to harm you (although in much larger amounts it
is a poison).

Now take some butter or margarine and make a little ball out of the
bread and pop it down. Tastes awful. Ugh. Take once a day for 100
days after the last bomb falls. This is good stuff and you should have
it around for reasons other than defense in case of a nuclear war.

If you live anywhere within in a couple of hundred miles of a nuclear
generating plant you might suddenly find yourself needing the stuff.
The US department of Health rushed a supply of pills to Three Mile
Island and they have a standard brochure all printed ready for
distribution in case it or some similar site vents.

The department of defense also keeps a supply near the old Titan
sites that are deteriorating and breaking down. [Author’s update note:
Once again those sites have been now decommissioned and no longer
present a problem, but much greater concerns now arise from Terrorist
Threat, and the U.S. Government is now stockpiling in many cities
not only these pills
but others for Bateriological and Chemical Threats]. Canadians have nothing.
I’ll take that back. They do have lots of nuclear plants and the distinct
possibility of bombs exploding over their heads and on their soil.

The reason why the potassium iodide works is that the thyroid will
absorb only so much iodine. After that, any iodine taken into the body
is passed off by the kidneys. Since the body already has all the good
stuff it wants it passes out the bad stuff. This is what we call
thyroid blocking.

Do not try to use the tincture of iodine that you put onto cuts.
Taken internally it will kill you. And you cannot eat enough iodized
salt to do you any good. You would get salt poisoning long before you
got sufficient iodine to do the job.

MYTH #12: There is a fallout pill that will protect you from all

I wish I could tell you about another pill that would solve all your
radiation and other problems. But there is none. Unless you mean the
cyanide pill mentioned earlier and things really are not that gloomy.
As I hope I have carefully explained, most of the radiation we have to
be concerned about from a nuclear bomb will decay in a matter of days
or weeks to a level where we can deal with it.

MYTH #13: There would be dangerous radioactivity for thousands of

You may say “I’ve heard that some radiation will be around for thousands
and even hundreds of thousands of years”. Yes, but those isotopes are
our friends. (That may be putting it a bit strongly.) Anyway, they are
not near so harmful as many people think. There is the point of view that
no radiation is good for you. Some dermatologists maintain that you should
not even get a suntan. (Yes, that is radiation that you get from the sun.)

There is even the theory that it is cosmic radiation that causes both
overall genetic change, aging, and death. In any case we are all
subjected to many sources of radiation every day. The question is not
whether or not you are going to receive radiation, but how much and how
quickly. Let us compare the radiation we are concerned about with
another type of radiation. Heat.

Just as we measure radioactivity in roentgens we measure heat in calories.
If I were to tell you that that pipe over there was going to put off
a million calories of heat, you might say, “Let me get away from it!”.
But, if I then said that it was going to be over the next million years,
at the rate of one calorie per year, you would realize that you were
in greater danger of freezing to death than of burning to death if you
were depending upon that pipe for heat.

It is not how much heat is going to be given off (it may be a large amount)
but how much over what period of time. A mere two hundred calories suddenly
inflicted upon one point of the skin would create a bit of a sting, but
hundreds of thousands might be comfortably absorbed from a heating pad
over an appropriate period of time.

It is the same with radiation. Most isotopes give off their energy
so rapidly that they are like flash bulbs. Flash and they are gone.
It just happens right in the vicinity of the bomb. Others are like regular
light bulbs that give off their light and heat for some period of time
before they burn out. They may travel a long way from the bomb as
fallout before they dissipate their energy. For these we need a shelter
to protect us if we are in their vicinity. Nothing else will do.

Still others are like those small luminescent lights that some people
put in their bathrooms for night-lights. Only weaker still. They just
sit there and barely glow for a very long period of time.

Little miniature flashlight bulbs or matches are a good analogy to fallout
particles. One or two of them in a room with you will not harm you.
But surely you can imagine the situation where if you had thousands and
thousands the light would either be blinding or the heat so intense that
you would be incinerated.

Fallout is just the same way. A few pieces inside a shelter with you
will not harm you, but if you go outside where there are millions of the
little beasts lying around then you have had it. The only difference
between their radiation and the radiation from a little flashlight bulb
or a match is that it is invisible radiation that you cannot see or
feel – like that from an x-ray machine.

MYTH #14: There would be no dangerous radioactivity after a couple of

After having explained all this, now I must tell you that there are some
isotopes that unfortunately do not fall into either the short range of
initial radiation (which we do not need to worry about because it does
not extend out of the blast area), nor the medium range (that you will
be protected from by a fallout shelter), nor the very long range (that
decays over so many hundreds of years that their energy is too weak to
concern us here).

These remaining isotopes are real meanies. There may be solutions to
the problems they present but there are no simple solutions. There will
not be enough of them around that they will make walking around
dangerous for most people but the problem is that they get into the food
chain and that they have relatively short half-lives, between five and
30 years.

That means that during the next couple of hundred years they are
going to be giving off most of their energy. Fortunately, some of them
are rather rare, and given that they are going to be widely dissipated
in worldwide fallout we can largely ignore their effects.

Others may be concentrated in certain areas, certain types of soil
and certain foods where we can avoid them also.

So they will not be that serious a problem.

Some others, however, particularly Cesium 137 and Strontium 90,
present mayor problems in keeping them out of the food chain.
Even here, there are available defense techniques.
For example lime, gypsum, fertilizer, or organic matter (in practical
amounts) may be applied to low calcium soil, or naturally high calcium
soil may be used for growing certain crops which have an uptake
preference for calcium over strontium.

There are known refining and purification techniques for some foods and milk,
and there are some new techniques which I have discussed with some of the
researchers at some of the leading nuclear laboratories, but which the world
isn’t ready to hear about as yet.

These methods along with others such as land denial, deep plowing,
surface scraping, and selective utilization, are harsh realities that
are going to have to be faced by the long-range survivors.

MYTH #15: You are prepared if you have a two weeks emergency supply
of food stored.

More important to the present theme are questions as to what preparations
survivors should be making ahead of time. Since it will take a while to
get crops growing again because of social disorganization, ozone depletion
in the atmosphere, climatic changes, crop adaptation, early crop failures,
soil deprivation, and similar factors, survivors will need a couple of year’s
supply of food. Wheat and honey are the only two basic foods, of which I am
aware, that have an indefinite shelf life. Thousand year old kernels found
in the pyramids have still sprouted. Fortunately, these two foods, wheat and
honey, meet most adult nutrient requirements. Powdered milk will be
necessary if one wishes to reduce the infant mortalities. The infants
will not survive otherwise, unless their mothers have adequate natural
milk, which is unlikely. Salt is important as a preservative, among
other purposes.

In addition to storing the four basic survival foods (wheat, honey,
powdered milk and salt), it is highly advisable that one also store
a couple of year’s supply of a variety of (non-hybrid) seeds.
Some seeds will not
store very well and need to be continually replaced.

It is equally important to develop certain skills. Gardening skills.
I particularly recommend the area of hydroponics because this would be
one way to grow foods free of contamination. Preserving skills.
Here I recommend learning to dry foods using hot air. Freeze-drying requires
too much elaborate and expensive equipment and freezing itself is not
reliable when electricity is not reliable. Preparation skills.
Bread making, use of lentils, and making of many foods, or their substitutes,
that today are commonly gotten in prepared form.

On all of these subjects one could write a book. Indeed many books
have been written on them. Even if one does not have time to
immediately develop all these skills they might do well to get
themselves a survival library and then as a next step acquire the
essentials in materials listed in checklists in most well organized

MYTH #16: You should be prepared to be self-sufficient and be able
to survive on your own.

The very best thing that a survival minded person can do, after preparing
for themselves an equipped place of refuge, and developing their own survival
skills, is to associate themselves with other skilled survivalists.
No one person can know everything, and almost everyone can contribute
something. Agricultural, medical, mechanical, communicator, you name it,
all skills will be needed.

Few people could afford the equipment that an organization can have.
One well-equipped laboratory for testing for alpha and beta particles in
food costs $5,000. Along with other radiation detection equipment and
many other types of emergency supplies, what individual can afford it?
Yet no nuclear survival group should be without one.

Even in building a shelter the mayor expense is the entrance and
support mechanisms such as emergency lighting, water source, etc.
The incremental cost for space for one additional individual is quite small.
Thus, the greater the number of people the overall cost can be spread over,
the less the average cost.

Moreover, no individual has the personal resources that a group has.
If the head of a single family survival group is injured or lost the
chances of survival for that group are much reduced. However, if it is
a large group then there are numbers of people available to continue to
give support. Just like there are numbers of people available to
maintain twenty-four hour watches, or to create a well manned convoy to
go after necessary supplies. One more prepared and equipped individual
added to such a group is an asset, whereas in a situation like a public
shelter, one more unprepared and unequipped individual is just another

A successful survival group will have to be either completely
homogeneous or thoroughly committed to thoroughgoing tolerance and
appreciation of a wide range of individual preferences regarding
society, economics, religion, and future expectations. Still, a shelter
is not a democratic society anymore than is a ship or an airliner.
The captain’s authority is absolute and one should have confidence in
his credentials and ability before boarding.

Neither is a shelter a democracy in the sense that there must be much
more stringent rules regarding behavior. Everyone must perform assigned
duties. There are no wealthy passengers along for a free ride to be
served by others. There are many limitations to personal freedoms such
as contraband materials. No drugs or alcohol (except under medical
prescription and then as approved by the commander).

All firearms and weapons must be placed in the armory and will not be
released except under orders from the commander. All valuables will be
receipted and stored in the locker for safekeeping. No private stocks
of foods because under survival conditions this can lead to social
disorder. No tobacco or smoking inside the shelter, since it would
cause discomfort to others.

No loud toys, devices, or other objects that would be environmentally
disturbing to others. No large bulky items, or great quantities of any
item without the permission of the commander. And no pets or animals
unless the survival community has made prior special arrangements for
their accommodation.

Tough. Yes, It is tough. But not nearly as tough as the conditions
of survival will be for those who are not prepared. There are many
items that are not prohibited, and in fact are encouraged. A reasonable
supply of one’s personal religious literature, the tools and resource
manuals of their trade or profession, survival manuals and equipment of
every sort, additional supplies of food to be put into the common larder,
and extra supplies to be put into the common store.

MYTH #17: Any survivors would have to live the rest of their lives

Many people ask how long they might expect to have to live in a shelter.
There are no fixed answers. If your shelter is an expedient hole in the
ground you might want to stay in it no longer than was absolutely necessary.
Maybe as much as a couple of weeks. If you dug a pretty elaborate hole in
the ground you might be able to expand upon it and make it into a place where
you could survive through a winter.

If you owned space in a shelter city, like there is in southern Utah
or southern California, you might plan to live there the rest of your life.
The co-operative shelter that I have been describing in the previous
paragraphs is not sufficiently elaborate that anyone would want to make it
a permanent home. Some persons would probably be able to find larger and
more adequate quarters elsewhere after a few weeks.

Others might improve upon the existing structure and remain there for
a year or two until more adequate homes could be built elsewhere.
Decontamination procedures would provide work areas, schools, and school
grounds outside of the shelter where people would carry on their daily
activities after a few weeks. However, it might be beneficial for young
children and expectant mothers to sleep in the shelter or a similar
structure for several months.

Certain occupations, such as decontamination crews, farmers who work
on large un-decontaminated areas, explorers who go into unsurveyed
areas, long distance truck drivers, and others who go out of well
defined areas for the next several years, will have to be closely
monitored to be sure their total exposure does not exceed established

It should be apparent to the reader, from what has been said earlier,
that a person may receive substantially larger total doses over a large
period of time than over a short period of time, just as with sunlight.
A person may easily recover from several small sunburns throughout the
years, resulting from staying in the sun overlong for an hour or two
each time. If they were to be exposed to the hot desert sun, that many
hours all at once, they would succumb.

In the same way one may recover from a number of small radiation
burns (although some controversy holds that one never recovers – this
seems unlikely), and in just the same way one may receive small amounts
of radiation and never feel ill. Just the same, certain biological
conditions dictate that certain individuals, (particularly the
reproductively active) should receive less radiation exposure and
that others may receive much larger amounts.

MYTH #18: Life after doomsday won’t be worth living.

Hearing descriptions of this sort some persons wonder if life will be
worth living afterwards. For some, most assuredly so. Others do not
find life worth living today. How many times have you heard of a person
like a famous movie star, who had wealth, fame, beauty, health, the
company of famous illustrious persons, opportunities to travel to all
sorts of places, and to participate in all sorts of interesting events,
the fulfillment of the very aspirations of thousands of young ambitious
people and yet that same person committed suicide.

On the other hand there are many individuals who suffer daily from
terrible physical afflictions and all sorts of personal misfortunes.
Oftentimes in the greatest poverty. And yet, the world over, down
through the centuries, they have gone on surviving. Many actually
finding happiness, meaning, and perhaps even enlightenment in life.
You will survive. The conditions of that survival are up to you.

Undoubtedly, the events that are about to transpire will have a
profound effect upon the attitudes of many people and perhaps upon
mankind itself. From the cauldron of the holocaust there may spring
forth a new race of men who are less concerned with self-interest and
who will come to understand man’s true nature and his divine destiny.

Some of us may even feel that this event will herald the coming to
maturity of the human race. Instead of no future, mankind may have
a glorious future. There will be great amounts of resources available,
combined with man’s great advances in technology, to build a new and
glorious world civilization. Providing, of course, that he has learned
from this experience and does not just go about preparing for the next
war in another twenty to thirty years.

But, I leave each man unto his own vision. While, to myself, looking
upon the immensity of the visible universe, and pondering the events
that have happened upon this one single planet circling a solitary sun
among the uncountable millions in our but one of the innumerable
galaxies, I cannot help but wonder if the events that are about to
transpire are not less than all that unique in the repetitive cycles
of life and nature that we see about us everywhere.

MYTH #19: You need not make any preparation because you are either
going to die in the holocaust or be saved (religious connotation).

Men’s philosophies today often go to one extreme or the other.
Claiming that all is within man’s power. Or that nothing is within
man’s power. There is a middle ground. One can simultaneously feel
that nothing can be achieved except by the will of God and think that
the results are dependent upon his own efforts. God sets the boundaries
and within those boundaries man can have some effect upon the outcome.

MYTH #20: The bombs today are so large and there are so many they
will destroy the world.

There are those who feel that the holocaust will destroy everything.
And well it might, for there are certainly more than enough nuclear
weapons in the world to achieve that end. “Except those days be
shortened, none will survive, not even the very elect.” But, if it
is the Divine Will, those days will be shortened. There are those of us
who feel that the Divine Hand is evidenced in the dealings of the world,
every moment unto every moment.

The Divine happenings often seem quite natural. If one were to say
unto a mountain, “Be thou removed and cast into the sea.” and
it should occur, another would say an earthquake just happened to happen
right then. If the forces of nature should transpire so that in the
midst of the holocaust the planet should suddenly tip on its side and
place His sign (the Southern Cross) suddenly blazing in the sky above
the heads of the people in the northern hemisphere, there are those who
would only recognize the natural causes.

Such an event would certainly play heck with the astral, satellite
based, and inertial, guidance systems upon which the individual and
MIRVed warhead delivery systems depend.

Events would not even have to be as miraculous as I have described
in order to limit Word War III. There is serious concern on the part of
the military that they will not even be able to fight the war because of
such factors as the EMP. However, I have faith in the military.
I am sure they will do an admirable job of trying to destroy the world.

None of us have an infallible insight into the future or its timetable.
Whatever will be, will be. We can but wait upon events to prove our
speculations to be right or wrong. While we are working and waiting
some of us put our trust in God. Others put it in the Government.

MYTH #21: You will receive adequate warning from your government.

The government at first proposed the individual family shelter plan.
Then it abandoned it. Next it proposed the community shelter plan.
Then it abandoned it. Then it proposed the relocation plan. Then it
abandoned it. Presently it has no plan. Don’t you feel abandoned?

The government has millions to spend for destruction but not a penny
for defense. The EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) has been
completely shut down. The Ontario government was allocated three berths
in the Radiological Defense Officers course (for the summer of 1982)
given by the Canadian Emergency Measures College at the Emergency
Planning Canada Federal Study Center in Arnprior, Ontario, but it didn’t
feel it could afford to send anyone even after our group offered to pay
expenses for three people. We appealed all the way up to the Solicitor
General’s office.

Admittedly, I am authorized to teach the course but during the last
course that I taught at one of the community colleges (free gratis)
I could not even get any resource personnel to come from Camp Borden,
who are responsible for administering the examinations. I feel abandoned.
A radiological detection kit that I used to be able to get for sixty
dollars, in the US, now costs in Canada, with import duties (they really
want you to have one), federal and provincial taxes, exchange rate,
custom’s brokerage, and you name it, $450. Who cares?

The last Radiological Scientific Officers Course taught in Canada was
in 1977. No future courses are planned. There are no communities with
a nuclear defense plan. I think I can make that an unqualified statement.

Millions for destruction and not a penny for defense. Your family’s
destruction bill for this year is $1,300 per member of your family.
Do you realize what $1,000 a year for the last ten years would have bought
you in the way of nuclear survival defense? Instead, your government
has bought you destruction. Your family’s destruction.

Oh, I am well aware of the argument that that pile of bombs has
maintained peace in the world for the last ten years, and the belief
that it will continue to maintain peace. Believe it if you want to.
All the high government officials have their shelters.
Why do they need them if you don’t? [Author’s update note: Curiously,
even the government’s shelters for civil authorities have now been closed].

If the government knew today that the Russians were going to attack next week,
do you think they would tell you? If they did, what would you and the
millions like you do? It would only create panic and get in their way.
No, I do not think that you would be told. Do you feel abandoned?

MYTH #22: You will receive no warning, and there is no hope if you do.

The fact the government may not warn you, and is not giving you any
assistance to defend yourself does not mean that you haven’t been warned.
There are many people who feel they can see the signs of the times.
Anyway, if you have read this document, consider yourself warned.
You may still have time to prepare. If an attack should occur you probably
do not live in a primary target area and will have plenty of time to escape.
If you have made preparation.

MYTH #23: One of the primary targets will be nuclear power plants.

Many persons come up with all sorts of rationalizations as to why
they should not prepare for survival. One is that there is a sufficient
number of weapons in the world, that if they were all used, they could
destroy the whole of mankind. This is true.

However, it may be that all the weapons will not be used. Some may
be destroyed by the other side. Some may misfire. Others may just fail
to get launched. This is why each side has so many extra. Moreover,
many persons make the mistake of assuming that it is all in man’s hands
and determined by man’s will. Whatever. It may be that some limited
amount of the potential for destruction will be used.

Another rationalization often heard is that the person feels they
live in a target area such as in the vicinity of a nuclear generating plant.
In actuality the Russians have little need to target the nuclear
generating plants and probably can do more damage by not doing so.
A bomb on the plant would just blow it to smithereens and the material in
the plant might add little to the radioactive fallout. On the other
hand, as a result of the EMP, if the plant is left on its own when it
loses its computer control it will go into a meltdown and add
substantial radioactive material to the atmosphere.

All of this is quite speculative, of course. There are no experts on
nuclear war. There is no one living who has been through one. There is
general agreement that it will be awfully terrible. It will probably
take six or seven months just to bury the bodies. But, there will
probably be someone around to it.

Useful Figures and Tables


This was the fallout pattern 36 hours after a single 15-megaton
thermonuclear device (the Bravo shot of Operation Castle at Bikini
Atoll – March 1, 1954) was detonated. The eventual extension of the
fallout was more than 20 miles upwind and over 320 miles downwind. The
width in cross section was variable, the maximum being over 60 miles.
This means there was substantial fallout contamination over an area of
more than 7000 square miles.

It is important to note that persons anywhere downwind would not have
had to travel more than 40 miles in a direction crosswind to be
perfectly safe. Secondly, assuming upperwinds of 150 miles per hour
and descent times of 30 minutes, persons 150 to 200 miles away would
have over an hour in which to either evacuate the area or to take

As noted from the chart on
the effects of radiation on humans,
the 300 roentgens per hour would cause serious illness with some
fatalities after an exposure of 1 hour and exposure of 2 hours would
certainly cause a hard death occurring in hours to days.

This picture shows the effect of a 5-megaton airblast. While much
larger weapons have been developed experimentally their use is unlikely.
For one thing they are to hard to deliver and, more importantly,
with a 20-megaton weapon we do only about one third the damage that will be
caused by 4 five-megaton weapons. 5 to 8 megatons will probably be the
average size of the strategic weapons. They will probably be detonated
at some altitude around 2000 feet for maximum effect. At 15 to 18 miles
on a clear day exposed people will be blistered, and from 18 to 23 miles
they will be sunburned.

This map shows the principal targets in the US. Major airports,
military installations, and railway passes would be targets in Canada.
The number two target in North America is North Bay, Ontario.

In an all out nuclear exchange (WW III), with a multiplicity of
devices being detonated over a relative short period of time (three days
to two weeks is a common estimate), there would most likely be wide
spread areas with general radiation levels (in the 5 to 20 roentgen per
hour range) over 1000 miles down wind from the blast sites, two to three
days after zero hour.

This map indicates the amount of radiation that a person would
receive in various areas by remaining in the open for 14 days following
the bombing of targets indicated in the map above. It is important to
note from the map that even if Canada were not bombed that Ontario would
receive 101 to 450 roentgens from the MinuteMan sites in Montana and the

The effect of a mere 10 roentgens per hour (arriving two or three
days after a detonation and thus having already lost much of its rapid
decay) would cause serious illness after one day’s exposure, and (even
with continued decay) would cause certain death within a couple of weeks.
However, almost any expedient shelter would greatly minimize the effects.

The basement shelter shown here could mean the difference between
life and death. As much care as possible should be taken to make sure
the shelter roof is below outside ground level. Otherwise, radiation
will come in at an angle through the narrow basement wall, as demonstrated.

Seven/Ten Rule

         1 hour ------------------ 1000  roentgens/hour
         7 hours -----------------  100  roentgens/hour
        49 hours (2 days) --------   10  roentgens/hour
         2 weeks -----------------    1  roentgens/hour
        14 weeks -----------------  0.1  roentgens/hour
        98 weeks (2 1/2 years) ---  0.01 roentgens/hour

This chart indicates that if one started off with one thousand
roentgens of radiation per hour at zero plus 1 hour, that it would take
2 weeks for the radiation to get down to 1 roentgen per hour.

Since death would be almost certain after exposure for even 1/2 hr
(see accompanying chart) it is apparent that shelter would be necessary.

The important thing to remember about the seven/ten rule is that it
is only theoretical, and that actual decay may follow a different slope.
Secondly, in order to use it. one must know the exact time of
detonation for the weapon causing the fallout. And thirdly, it is only
applicable for calculating the fallout from one weapon, and not for
multiple sources.



[Author’s update note: The above is a map of the underground shelter
actually built 90 miles northwest of Toronto. Anyone interested in joining
the survival community where it is located should email the author for
photos of the existing shelter. ].

Examples of the Effects of Radiation on Humans

Roentgens  Duration     Total dosage of     Number that    Deaths will
per hour   of exposure  radiation received  will die       occur in
---------  -----------  ------------------  -----------    -----------

  5-10     2- 5 hours     10-  50R           none
 50        1- 4 hours     50- 200R           less than  5%  60 or more days
100        2- 4 hours    200- 400R           less than 50%  30 to 60 days
100        4- 6 hours    400- 600R           more than 50%  about one month
100        6-10 hours    600-1000R           all            less than two weeks
200 plus   3 hours plus  600R plus           all            the more intense
                                                            the radiation the
                                                            shorter the time
                                                            before death
  1.0      1 week        150R                none
  0.3      1 month       200R                none
  0.1      4 months      300R                none
  1.5      1 week        250R                 5%            3 months
  0.5      1 month       350R                 5%            6 months
  0.2      4 months      500R                 5%            9-18 months
  2.7      1 week        450R                50%            1-3 months
  0.8      1 month       600R                50%            2-6 months

Example of the Effect of Shielding

Any material can be used for shielding against radiation. Even feathers.
There is nothing magical about lead. It is only the density of the material
that matters. A pound of lead and a pound of feathers weigh exactly the same.
But it takes a much bigger stack of feathers than it does of lead to make a

Neither feathers nor lead are generally particularly cheap to obtain,
so it is usually better to use some other material like dirt or
concrete. The more dirt or concrete in the barrier, the greater the
protection. Since concrete is more dense (heavier) it only takes about
24 inches of concrete to give the same protection as 36 inches of dirt.

Thirty-six inches (three feet) of dirt will give good protection.
Five feet of dirt will give better.

Nuclear Survival Groups

There are probably 12 nuclear survival groups in the city of Toronto.
I personally know of four and I have heard of three or four others.
(There may be some overlap. I can’t be certain.) My guess is that there
are another three or four I don’t know about. Most such groups are very
secretive, for various reasons. Three of the groups are headed up by
instructors, like myself, who teach survival courses at the community

[Author’s 1998 update note: The author was maintaining a listing
of survival communities in North America].

[Authors October 2002 update note: The list had grown to several hundred intentional communities and survival groups in North America when as a result of consensus of opinion he ceased to publish it because of government and social attitudes. People on the list were asking to be removed because of fear of repercussions. Waco had occurred his own Ark Two Community had been raided without warrant by 7 police vehicles, including a K-9 unit plus 4 fire vehicles. A total of over 40 personnel as was shown on the National News.]

Most of the groups contain a number of very well trained and
experienced people. There are also many other groups scattered around
both the US and Canada. They have their own training bases and survival
courses. There is a magazine, Survive, where you can learn about some
of these groups.

What is a Radiological Defense Officer?

Both in the Canada and the United States the Federal Governments have
trained certain individuals to be advisors to mayors and other public
officials in time of nuclear disaster. In Canada these individuals are
called Radiological Defense Officers.

Certain Radiological Defense Officers have received additional
training, so as to become qualified to teach Radiological Defense
Officers. These individuals are designated as being Radiological
Scientific Officers. The supposed requirement for becoming a
Radiological Defense Officer is a Ph.D. in physics, but because of a
lack of candidates, individuals with lesser qualifications have been

About the Author

The author of this document built twenty-three fallout shelters in
Kansas and Utah in the 1960’s. He completed the US Office of Civil
Defense course in 1970 after moving to Canada and then the Radiological
Defense Officer’s course at Arnprior, Ontario in 1976, and the
Radiological Scientific Officer’s course in 1977.

While in the USAF, he was a control tower operator and graduated
as Honor Student from the AACS supply school. Because of this
training he was asked to inspect the Titan missile sites after his
honorable discharge. He refused because of his understanding of what
the missiles could do to mankind. He has been a member of various
anti-war groups and his personal motto is “Bell the Cat and Ban the
Bomb”, but he thinks it is now too late to do either.

His master’s degree is in Economics from Texas Christian University,
and he holds certificates in both data processing and information
technology, the latter from MIT. [He has also written and edited
several books in the field of computer science].

Prior to becoming a college teacher of computer science he was a
telephony engineer and holds both US and Canadian patents.

He presently devotes a large amount of his time to the nuclear
survival group mentioned in this document.


[Author’s update note: The two books that I used to most highly recommend were]:

[Author’s 1998 update note: While those two books are still very valuable,
and it is a good idea to read more than one author’s ideas
on the same subject, still there is a new book about which I am
quite enthused. This book is the most recent book of which I am aware
and it gives some new and updated information. From the source,
presentation, and approach of the book it somewhat makes me think that
its writing may have been commissioned or supported by the Mormon Church,
but (which is not a negative but) whatever its source it is excellent.]

The book is “Nuclear Defense Issues”,
by ” Paul Seyfried and Sharon Packer of Utah Shelter Systems”.

by mail (for $25) from:

Utah Shelter Systems
P.O. Box 638
Heber, Utah 84032-0638

[Author’s update note as of January 1st, 2002: I am now
quite enthused about a still newer book.

The book is “No Such Thing as Doomsday”,
by “Philip L. Hoag”.

You can order it by mail (for $25) from:

Yellowstone River Publishing
P.O. Box 206
Emigrant, MT 59027
USA 800-585-5077