What should you do if the unthinkable happens, a nuclear terrorist attack?Â New government guidelines say get inside any stable building and stay there.Â Do not flee.
Recent scientific analysis shows that a nuclear attack is much more survivable if you immediately shield yourself from the radiation following the blast.Â Predictions are that hundreds of thousands could be saved.Â Even being inside a car could reduce casualties by 50%.Â Hiding in a basement would be better.
Remember the 50Â’s and 60Â’s bomb shelters?Â Guess they werenÂ’t such a bad idea after all. Â
According to the New York Times, trying to get the information out to the public without seeming alarmist, is a problem that the Obama administration faces. Â
W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in an interview, Â“We have to get past the mental block that says itÂ’s too terrible to think about.Â”Â Â“We have to be ready to deal with itÂ” and help people learn how to Â“best protect themselves.Â”
WashingtonÂ’s focus up until now, has been prevention of nuclear attacks and how to limit their harm.Â The government has spent tens of billions of dollars on intelligence, securing nuclear materials and equipping local authorities with radiation detectors.Â An effort that seems to be paying off, but following up with information on how to survive should terrorists attack using a nuclear device seems logical, even if it isnÂ’t something that we want to think about.Â Adding drills and education is the next step.
The cold war brought about fatalistic views of nuclear terrorist attacks.Â Â“ItÂ’s more survivable than most people think,Â” said an official deeply involved in the planning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Â“The key is avoiding nuclear fallout.Â”
There seems to be a lot of tip-toeing around the issue, making supplying the public with information that could save thousands of lives difficult.Â Unlike the cold war days where school children were taught to Â“duck and coverÂ” and there were even commercials on what to do in case of a nuclear attack, today even talking about a nuclear attack is tenuous.
In a study financed by Homeland Security and conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, scientists used computers to simulate urban landscapes and terrorist bombings.
It is the initial cloud of radioactive particles that pose the greatest threat. They found that taking shelter for even a few hours made a great difference in survival rates. Â
So, donÂ’t follow what your initial instinct might tell you, to run from the area.Â Â
You might find this 92 page booklet interesting, it was issued 4 days before President Bush left office in 2009.