When Radiation Arrives, What Do You Do? Part I
By: Tom Chatham – Author of The American Dream Lost and The Crux Event
Fukushima has been spewing radioactive particles since it exploded over a year ago. There are reports from numerous sources that this could become a global nightmare at some point. It has been said that the collapse of the cooling pool in reactor 4 would cover the northern hemisphere with life destroying radiation. What do you do when this local disaster becomes a global catastrophe? In this event you only have two options. Leave the contaminated area or provide protection for you and your family. There is a third option which entails doing nothing and possibly dieing a slow horrible death, but that requires no action on your part so we won’t discuss that option. The contamination could come in two levels. It could be in the form of a lethal dose in a matter of days or weeks or it could be low levels for many years that will eventually take your life.
What are your options for evacuation? You could buy a home in another country and get settled before a general evacuation is under way or you could wait to be evacuated by a government entity and hope for some type of permanent shelter. A mobile shelter might be a good option if you want to maintain some privacy and distance from the crowds of refugees that will result. A plane, train, RV or boat could be used as an evacuation vehicle/shelter. Most people do not have the means to buy a plane to utilize as a home but it is an option. A railroad car could be bought and converted into a home and you could have it hauled to your destination. An RV can be driven to just about any country in the western hemisphere and will provide you with reasonable mobility. A boat might be the best option for an evacuation vehicle/shelter giving you good mobility and shelter. With a well equipped sail boat you can travel to just about any place on earth as the situation dictates. With a boat you will not have the ability to plant a garden or raise a large amount of livestock but a few planters, a couple of chickens to produce eggs and a few rabbits are possible. This combined with the seafood you can catch can allow you to eat regularly.
For most Americans, relocating to the southern hemisphere is not possible for many reasons. It could be physical or financial disabilities that force you to remain in the U.S. to deal with the situation. Even if the government had the means to evacuate the entire U.S. , which it does not, you would live the remainder of your life as a refugee in a foreign country. If you evacuate, regardless of how, then you may be free of the hazard, but what do you do if you and your family are forced to stay and deal with the radiation? I haven’t seen anyone address that issue so let’s look at a few of the issues regarding sheltering in place.
The first thing you need to be concerned about is dose rate and total dose. Dose rate is the amount of radiation your body is absorbing on a continuous basis or how fast you are absorbing radiation. Total dose is the total amount you have already absorbed. Most people do not know it but the body has the ability to remove small amounts of absorbed radiation over time. Even in normal times the human body is constantly absorbing background radiation from many sources but the body is able to remove it fast enough to offset the effects. At certain levels, the total dose can start to cause physical problems in your body so in a radiological environment your primary concern is to limit your total dose. Depending on the type of radiation this can be done in different ways. Some radiation can be kept at bay with protective over-garments to keep the radiation away from your skin. Other types of radiation may require something more substantial such as several inches of concrete or steel or several feet of dirt.
When you are dealing with fallout from another location you may need to employ multiple types of protection during your daily routine. One thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to keep as much distance between you and the source of radiation as possible. If the outside air and surface is contaminated you want to remain inside behind as much shielding material as you can unless it is necessary to go outside. When you go out you need to keep your exposure time as short as possible. Limited exposure to low level radiation can be endured and survivable for a very long time if you have a good shelter to spend most of your time in.
If you are operating in a radiological environment on a regular basis you will need a dosimeter to carry with you at all times and record your daily total dose so you do not expose yourself to too much radiation. If you plan to do limited work in a contaminated environment, you will need the ability to decontaminate yourself upon reentry to your shelter. You need to plan for this ahead of time and have suitable room to accomplish this. The simplist method to decon yourself is brush or vacuum the dust particles from your equipment and to take a shower with hot soapy water placing special emphasis on hair and under nails where particles can accumulate.
One of the first things most people will say is, surviving in a shelter for months or years is impossible and unrealistic. It was also impossible to stay underwater in a sub for months at a time until nuclear powered subs were invented. Necessity is the mother of invention. If a person is forced to live in a contaminated area for an extended period of time they will figure out how to do so for as long as possible. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to be dangerous? Yes. Will you have huge obstacles to overcome? Yes. The question is , are you going to give up or fight to live? Remember, you can evacuate or stay, and if you stay for whatever reason you will have to figure out how to stay alive. You will need to figure out how to provide clean air, fresh water, food, energy and sanitation. Most taxpayers cannot afford to build a fallout shelter and stock it with a multi year food supply, partially due to the fact that they have had to finance well stocked shelters for the government. So, what is a person to do on a limited budget?
It’s like anything else a prepper has to do. You need to use your American ingenuity and develop a plan that will work for you. A basement would work with some additional shielding in the ceiling and around the windows. A dedicated fallout shelter in the backyard would be good too if you can afford the construction cost. Basically, something underground utilizing dirt and concrete would be the most effective method. Used cargo containers buried under a few feet of earth might work well also. Maybe you have access to an abandoned mine shaft you can build up into a shelter. It all depends on what resources you have access to. Even if you develop a plan to survive in a contaminated area, you need to keep in mind what kind of future you are looking forward to. Some contamination is dangerous for years or decades. What kind of life will be possible on the surface? How long will it be before the surface can be used again for plant and animal life? What kind of future will you be able to build underground? If you feel this is something you need to plan for, then you need to think about these questions. If you plan to survive a disaster such as this over the course of many years it will require a great deal of thought on your part. One of the difficulties in answering some of these questions is not knowing how much radiation you will have to deal with, so multiple plans may be necessary to determine the realistic ability to shelter in place under increasing contamination levels.