I ask many people if they have plans in case of a huge disaster - most say no. Some think I am nuts. Well, I just think I am prepared. The disaster that I am most afraid of isn't a natural one, it is a dirty nuke.
A dirty nuke is a small amount of nuclear material surrounded by standard explosives like TNT. You really don't need much of the nuclear material to make a dirty nuke. Most experts say one of these bombs could be carried in a suitcase or packed on a person. Obviously the main suspect to do something like this to us is a terrorist.
I have done too much reading about dirty nukes and their effects and most of the people who know how these things work seem to agree on one thing. The panic that will set in after a dirty nuke goes off will kill many more people (from car accidents, heart attacks, etc.) than the actual explosion itself. With that in mind, I have a few tips and tricks for you to think about to help you survive should this situation ever arise.
Before anything happens, you should really have a disaster plan. Write it down and review it every six months or so. This is not only good for dirty nukes, but tornadoes, floods, whatever. If you are at work and your spouse is home, how will you meet if the cell phone network is down? Can you meet if the roads are clogged?
As far as a dirty nuke goes, you have to, at all costs, remain calm. If you are not killed by the initial explosion, odds are that you will survive. You just have to keep your head on straight, follow your disaster plan and execute it.
The fallout from a dirty nuke will be relatively small - but you still want to avoid it. Radiation gets into your body by being absorbed through your skin. Put on long sleeved clothes. Wash your face and hands regularly. Get away from the city. Here in the Midwest, the prevailing winds almost always blow east - so go west!!! If that option isn't open, the further distance you can get away from the blast center, the better. The radiation from these crude weapons will be dissipated quickly, especially if it is a windy day. However, you will have lots of competition to get away from the city and they will be nervous and panicked. If you can't get away fast, do not panic. Like I said, if you survive the blast the odds are that you will live so just stay home, wash often, wear long sleeves and get out when you can.
There is tons of information on the internet about what to bring with you and how to pack it, etc. At the bare minimum, you should get together with your mate and draft some kind of disaster plan - what would it hurt?