Nuclear War Preparations
With the increasing belligerency of Russia and the expansive plans of places like North Korea and China it is becoming increasingly likely that at some point nuclear weapons will be used. Will they go the whole hog and launch all their weapons? Probably not, just a few smaller battlefield ones that test the waters, other countries doing likewise, then realising their mistake and that nobody can win by using them, needing massive and failing resources to deal with the ensuing carnage from the original. Likely that the leaders and commanders at that point will be assassinated by their own troops and people.
All three of these are dependent on the other world’s countries, some for parts, others for selling to, but with a collapse both will go, possibly China being the only short-term survivor, probably not evading the ensuing fallouts until its own internal social mechanism fails.
Your goal is to survive seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. You goal alongside this is to do the same with your family, your area, your society, your country, then the world. Travel is probably gone for a decade, space for 100 years. There won’t probably be much wildlife around that isn’t getting eaten and most things you know in nature will not return. Maybe one day a wise species may arise.
So, you have the order of survival: Stop, think, look around, plan, shelter, water, food, helping others. Hopefully others are doing this, but if they are hostile, avoid; they won’t last long. Longer than others maybe, if they take rather than help, but they will merely delay their extinction for a while.
But, if it does become more extensive, what can be done?
There are a number of stages in this:
- The initial blast
- Disease and starvation
- Civilisation or society collapse?
The initial blast
This is where duck and dive come in. If there is a massive flash, drop to the floor and cover your eyes. It’s no good looking around for anything or a place to hide, this can be done when the flash is over. You will have seconds to find a barrier or ditch, so if it’s not close, stay where you are, but if the flash is smaller you can go behind a strong wall or under the stairs if you have them. You probably have 1-30 seconds, but assume the lesser figures. The radiation pulse needs line of sight. Light structures will be of little use now or later.
If you have advance warning go to a strong structure, low down or built underground. At worst, dig a pit underground and cover it with thick beams and earth with layers of tarpaulin, but not so it would collect water. Cars or being in a car is particularly bad. In larger buildings, stairwells are stronger than the rooms, especially if they are in the centre. In a house under a set of stairs in the centre is best or in a small room in the centre, but windows will be a major hazard, possibly being a mass of super sharp bullet speed objects.
The other problem will be fires from gas pipes that will be short lived and structural fires that will last longer and spread. I think it unlikely that many big buildings such as blocks of flats would be still standing a day later, if not knocked down immediately.
If you are near the blast area, move out to a more distant locality as soon as possible. Most problems and radiation will be around and accumulate there. Your job is to find shelter away from the fallout that will occur later. There will be quite a lot of initial dust and radiation that you will need to take care of, covid masks possibly being good for filtering out the worst, two at the same time being better. Take packed clothes and bottled water with you or quickly find them.
So, find a place underground or near the centre of a large building, change your outer clothing and keep what you took off remote, preferably washing yourself down in that area before putting new clothing on. Underwear is less likely to be contaminated, but your hair and exposed skin might be. Use soap, but nothing oily.
Cough and blow your nose a few times and dispose of the tissues or wet cloths. Showers are unlikely to be working and may contain sewage, as may the water supply closer to the blast. Most services such as water, electricity and gas will probably stop working and can become a hazard, so bottles, cans, mechanical and battery are the order of the day.
Open air ventilation will now become a hazard for a while, rather than a benefit, but it is unlikely that anything powered will continue working, there will be probably too much disruption for this. But you don’t want too much CO2 build up, turning it into an Apollo 13 scenario, but without NASA to help you.
After an atomic explosion masses of radioactive dust particles are thrown into the air. They will contain various elements that emit different types of radiation, gamma, beta and alpha, in order of penetration. All three are dangerous, initially gamma in the burst, but beta can linger around and alpha can cause damage if inhaled or consumed. You might think of them in terms of being burnt, being poisoned and decades of smoking or bad food. A very rough analogy to effect. The particles will settle on anything and get into any place that is ventilated, a lot being removed when it rains, things like black rain being particularly bad, full of radiation and pooling in areas, making then concentrated. They use a similar method of evaporation for extracting and concentrating lithium salts.
Anything grown outside will now be contaminated, so current local crops are out, at least until the radiation levels have reduced. Any contaminated land that has hot spots can’t be used for a long time. Areas that eventually have leached the radiation away can have surface crops grown on them or clear built areas filled with uncontaminated layers of surface soil for the purpose. The best bet is bottled drink and canned food, and of that food which is kept out of contaminations way. Even canned food that Freezers will be good for a few days at the start, but if used will quickly go as the power will probably fail completely. The main fallout will last at least until it has rained a few times to remove most of the dust, but render some areas unusable for years. The dust will have been pushed up into the top of the atmosphere, so if may go for much longer, but at much lower levels, staying up there longer and cooling things down for the next decade, so you might find very hard winters suddenly occurring.
Depending on the time of year the event happened, cold may become the biggest killer.
Disease and Starvation
Mains water will be contaminated for a long time, even if it restored. Using it has the risk of things like cholera and typhoid developing without the resources to fight them. It might be used for washing, but will need to be boiled in most cases using wood fires. Unless you live near open cast coal mining, wood is going to be the only energy source, the odd discrete or off grid solar possibly running. Disease will start to become rampant in concentrated populations, so many dead or dying and nobody to bury or treat them, remote or small ones faring better.
Most things electrical will fail or have been shorted and the odd non-digital radio will be the main communications and form of news, if any stations can be got up and running. It will probably all be on the short wave or radio ham frequencies with next to no government information as there probably won’t be any.
Medical equipment will all go, nothing electrical having any value or use, and bandages made from boiled clothe strips, all of the first aid kits having been used up quickly.
With a major event, food will become scarce, countries or areas divorced from food production and such with large populations particularly affected. The best bet would be to spread out. There will be little food, little chance of getting or producing it, and large numbers to feed, so sadly most will perish, social unrest breaking out as everything goes. Combined with cold there would be little chance for them unless they move and got situated quickly before they became weak.
Civilisation or society collapse
If there is a major set of explosions around the world the disruption would mean that so much would collapse little commerce would continue, except for precious and rare items. It would be likely international trade would simply disappear. Gold and silver would probably become the basis for value as most currencies would be worthless, as would all bank balances. People may not realise it for a number of weeks, but money would not have anything to back it up, so hyper-inflation would suddenly start until people got wise that all the paper or plastic is just that, something to use to cover things.
It’s likely the first winter period would be very bad, most not surviving that. The next task would be to rebuild a working society at something like 3 months after it finishes. If that isn’t done at this point then it’s back to the iron age. A lot of metal around to use, next to nothing of it working.
We live in an interconnected, interdependent and interrelated society, everything now dependent on the whole working. But like with the current example of covid, which was a minor blip, it shows how this has affected the non-resilient systems put in place. Nuclear blasts would be massive events, not minor blips, so collapse is almost given, the most affected being those who have little practical knowledge or not used to constant physical work. Manual tools would suddenly become very valuable.
Anything virtual or electronic based is gone and not likely to return for decades, so no banking or payments at all, with money worthless.
Medicines would be rare, going back to natural resources that will also have a problem surviving.
Guns would be extremely important for a short time, but become rusting bits of metal after the first couple of years, ammunition running out to nothing. So, knives, swords and bows and skill with those would become important.
An estimate would be three quarters of the world population going in the first 6 months and half of that going in the next 6 months after that, the average longevity maybe going down to as low as 50 years worldwide.
As all the stuff runs out I wouldn’t expect say more than about a fiftieth of the population to be alive after 2 years, people lying where they fell.
Lastly, just a few blasts may cause this, a full-scale nuclear war making all of it almost certain, except for reducing massively in numbers and chances of survival for those who are left. That might leave a few million around the world, most wildlife perishing. If the sun did produce a large solar flare of the wrong polarity then you might find this has the effect of a small number of blasts, but without the fallout, so it would start from the disease and starvation area.
Most people’s survivalist and off-grid aims are quite often dependent on re-joining a working society when the worst is over, or dipping into an existing society for the bits they need where and when required. There will probably be neither, but they will fare better than most, the basic knowledge of how to make their tools and equipment from scratch missing.
How do you build a wood or charcoal based forge? How do you make large quantities of charcoal to burn in it? How do you smelt, forge and temper metal? How do you make a hammer, chisel or hand drill? How do you make paper? How do you make a transmitter, radio or telegraph from raw materials? How do you make the cables? How do you make a steam engine or windmill? How do make a band to power equipment from it. How do you create bread from first planting seed, and how do you protect it from the elements and pests? How do you build a boat from trees? How do you spin, weave and sew together and using and making all the bits such as needles or a loom to do it? All need to be answered, tested and known, any one bit missing and nothing happens. Cloth, with nothing to fix or sew it with, forget about buttons, zips, dyeing or embellishments such as decoration, waxing or waterproofing.
So much, and so many skills are missing from modern life, separated from its origins by a massive void of specialisation and non-resilient industries.