As unsettling as this title may be, someone has to write it.
Surviving a nuclear attack with bearable side effects is a long shot, but it is not impossible. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, you need to organize your family and loved ones and be prepared for anything. According to the CDC, your chances of living through a nuclear fallout depend on your proximity to the nuclear device when it explodes. A difference of a few hundred meters could mean the difference between immediate death and survival. Moreover, many people not at ground zero would survive.
People at ground zero would survive too – if they follow some very strict rules. Here are some facts, advice, tips, and recommendations you want to store somewhere in your mind. It does not hurt.
You are more likely to survive if you take cover in a robust building made of concrete. Make a list of potential concrete shelters near your home, workplace or school. They don’t necessarily have to be anti-atomic bunkers or shelters, but they need to be windowless, strongly built of concrete or at least surrounded by other rooms and walls.
You need to build your disaster kit having in mind a nuclear fallout (and not just an electricity blackout): plenty of bottled water, plenty of thermal blankets, canned food, a radio, and medical supplies, particularly if anyone in your family suffers from a chronic medical condition. If you own a reinforced cellar or basement, make sure you can access it at all times and it is fully stocked.
Most importantly, do not try to flee, but find shelter: if the blast catches you outside, your chances of survival will lower dramatically; moreover, everyone else will try to flee, so you will end up in a massive crowd of panicked people and this will not help anyone to survive.
If you are in a multi-floor building, try to stay away from the top floor; go as low inside the building as you can and as far away from all windows as you can.
Shut all the windows and turn off all ventilation systems that may bring in outside air if you are in your house/apartment – stay away from the windows.
Wherever you are, put a cloth over your mouth and nose whenever you can.
Expect to stay inside the shelter/building for at least 24 hours.
Even if you are far away from the impact zone, take shelter and stay there – radiations are something that travel fast, especially if the wind blows
Make sure you follow the authorities’ instructions carefully: take shelter where you are pointed to, go to a specific recommended place or evacuate a specific area according to the emergency personnel’s directions.
Keep a radio close at all times: many local governments have incident response plans that include public messages – unfortunately, you cannot expect mobile or internet communication to work.
If you are caught outside, never look at the flash of light or fireball, it can turn you blind on the spot, as you will be looking directly into a killer sun that is way too close than anyone wishes.
If you are outside, hit the ground, cover your head, and dive into or behind anything metallic/concrete that could shield you from the radiation; after the noise settles down, do everything you can to get out the way of the radioactive fallout.
Wherever you are when the bomb hits, cover your eyes and ears: if the pressure wave is powerful enough, it will cause your eardrums to burst otherwise.
If you were outside for a few moments during the blast, take immediate shelter and try to clean yourself: remove your clothes as they may contain radioactive particles and wash your head and body only with water and soap; try not to scrub or scratch your skin; gently blow your nose and wipe your face clean with a wet cloth.
The most important thing you need to know about a nuclear attack is the triad of these factors: Distance, Shielding and Time. Surviving a nuclear blast is not impossible, but you need to be very fast and witty, not panic, and remember the minimal set of survival guidelines.