radiation shielding materials

Nuclear Radiation Shielding Protection

Radiation shielding is a mass of absorbing material placed between yourself and the source of radiation in order to reduce the radiation to a level that is safer for humans.

The effectiveness of the material depends on:

– the type of radiation itself
– properties of the shielding material
– the shielding strength or thickness of that material.

(UPDATED) More Shielding Materials Listed Below

Different types of radiation behave in different ways:

According to the NATO Handbook On The Medical Aspects Of NBC Defensive Operations,

“Gamma or X radiation constitutes the principal casualty producing form of ionizing electromagnetic radiation associated with nuclear explosions”.

In other words, Gamma and X-ray are of primary concern.

The ‘Alpha’ particle (another type of radiation from a nuclear explosion) is also highly dangerous but is hardly penetrable. It can be stopped by a single piece of paper, or an air filter (think of it as a heavy dust particle). It is carried by the wind currents and eventually falls to the ground and ‘decays’.

Gamma radiation though travels at the speed of light.

Nuclear Radiation Shielding – Gamma & X-ray

To protect yourself from gamma radiation resulting from a nuclear explosion, there are three things to remember:


Time & Distance – Get as far away as quickly as you can.

Shielding between you and the radiation source – Knowing how much of what type of material is enough to protect you.

It is the ‘mass’ of the shielding material that does the blocking.
The more shielding, the better.

Halving Thickness

Shielding is measured by the fraction of gamma rays that it blocks.

A halving thickness is the amount of material that will block half the gamma rays passing through it. A halving thickness ( 1/2 ) has a protection factor (PF) of 2.

If you add another ‘halving thickness’ it will block half of the remaining gamma rays, so now 1/4 are getting through. This is a protection factor (PF) of 4.

Another layer of ‘halving thickness’ brings it down to 1/8 or PF 8. And so on.

Were’ looking for PF 1000. Here’s how it works:

Protection Factor (PF) layers

A radiation shield is characterized by its total ‘protection factor’. For example, a shield that only lets 1/1,000 (one one-thousandth) of the gamma rays through, has a protection factor of 1000 (the modern day standard).

1 layer = PF 2
2 layers = PF 4
3 layers = PF 8
4 layers = PF 16
5 layers = PF 32
6 layers = PF 64
7 layers = PF 128
8 layers = PF 256
9 layers = PF 512
10 layers = PF 1024

Radiation shielding materials are commonly categorized by their ‘halving thickness’, which is the thickness of that material required to block half of the incoming gamma rays.

If we know the halving thickness, then multiply it by 10 for PF of about 1000 (1024).

Radiation Shielding Materials

To achieve a protection factor of 1,000  consider the following chart of materials and thicknesses. I have researched the data that I could find on this, and have assembled a table which I’ve factored the halving thicknesses to PF 1000 values.

Obviously, some of these materials are not practical when considering radiation protection! But it’s interesting nonetheless.

inches g/cm^3 inches
Material Halving Density thickness
lead 0.4 11.30 4
steel 1.0 7.86 10
aluminum* 1.9 2.76 19
glass* 2.2 2.53 22
concrete 2.4 2.30 24
firebrick* 2.6 2.07 26
brick,clay* 3.4 1.61 34
packed soil 3.6 1.99 36
wallboard* 6.5 0.92 65
water 7.2 1.00 72
books* 7.2 0.69 72
hardwood* 7.9 0.69 79
lumber 11.0 0.56 110
plywood* 12.0 0.46 120

The asterisk* indicates where I have extrapolated halving thickness from a materials correlation (to concrete). Some of my sources listed below.

Radiation Shielding Mass

Typical mixed concrete has a density of about 150 pounds per cubic foot. 24 inches of concrete provides a approximate PF of 1000. So you might say a typical density of materials for radiation shielding might be a density of about 300 pounds per cubic foot (or equivalent stack of layers).

PF 1000 correlates to ~ 300 lbs/cubic-foot density

I went through the list of materials above, and of the 14 listed I found 11 with density data. I averaged them all and it came out to 295 pounds per cubic foot for PF 1000.

With lead, it only takes 4 inches. But water, it takes 6 feet. Both of which stack up to about 300 pounds per cubic foot.

As a rule-of-thumb, for a protection factor of 1000, you want about 300 pounds of mass per foot for your shield – however thick it stacks (layers) up.

Most Practical Gamma Radiation Shielding

It appears that the most practical and economical means to achieve this protection factor is to use concrete or packed earth. 2 feet of concrete or 3 feet of packed soil and you’re good to go…

Dirt’s cheap. Dig a hole, put a bunker down there. The trick is supporting at least 3 feet of packed dirt above you! Maybe a shipping container bomb shelter? Well, that’s another set of articles…


While searching for data in this regard, I noticed that there are some discrepancies out there. However I have gleaned what I believe to be accurate for this report.

Some of my sources include the following:

Nuclear War Survival Skills (Upgraded Edition) by Cresson Kearny

U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological And Chemical Survival Manual

The Compass DeRose Guide – Hardened Shelters (website)

Wikipedia – Radiation Protection, Shelter Design

Civil Defense League of Canada

Wikipedia – Fallout Shelter

During a nuclear disaster, consider these:
iOSAT Potassium Iodide Tablets, 130 mg (14 Tablets)

Also, a Geiger counter / nuclear radiation detector will be an important asset!

RADEX RD1503+ with Dosimeter: High accuracy Geiger counter

Related article: 5 Nuclear Radiation Detector Choices

I originally published this article during 2012. However I have updated it several times, including this last 2019 update. Hopefully some of you may find it informative.

Continue reading: U.S. Nuclear Power Plants – Safe Distance?

US Nuclear Target Map

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  1. Whether you’re concerned about high-energy particles or lead projectiles, Insulated Concrete Form homes have a lot of advantages for the survivalist/prepper.

  2. I’ve converted the space under the basement stairs into a safe room/fallout shelter. It’s in the center of the house, below ground, with one side against a cinder block wall below the garage. The other wall I lined with 4×4’s and covered the solid wood door with 1/8″ steel sheet.

    Think of your house as being totally transparent and fallout is shinning through it like a million LED’s outside your home. It will be the closest to you inside our house where your home meets the ground or on the roof and gutters. You want to be in the shadows as far below ground level as possible with as much “stuff” between you and it.

    Use any stored goods like Christmas or holiday belongings in boxes, things that aren’t used much to fortify your sanctuary. Radiation from fallout dissipates fairly quickly so even heavy hit areas will be safe within a week or 2.

  3. Do you have any idea of how thick newspaper/books would have to be to achieve the same 1/1000 protection factor ?

    1. @Barbara, Although it would be highly impractical, for every square foot of protection (for 1000 factor) you would need a stack of 115 reams of 8.5×11″ paper. This will give you an approximate mass of 375 pounds per square foot.

  4. Hello,

    I am new to this world, but I am wondering if someone out there, preferably an expert could answer my questions.

    I am planning on building a basic cabin/bug out shelter. I am looking for some type of material that I can line the inside of the walls with that will protect me from all radiation, both high solar and nuclear. For example, it makes sense to me that the type of material that a radiation suit is made out of is light and flexible yet protects from this….is this correct? How might I go about doing this without covering my building with 3 feet of dirt….



    1. Shaun,

      Radiation suits do not protect from gamma radiation. NBC and Hazmat suits protect against particles and compounds that will harm you. In the case of radiation, particles (alpha and beta radiation) are a medium and long term threat.

      The short term threat is gamma radiation which is photons. The article presents a very helpful picture of all matter, like your house, being somewhat transparent and the fallout, emitting gamma radiation, is tiny LED lights settling on every horizontal surface. You want to stay in the shadows. A great document to read is “Key Response Planning Factors in the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” which is easily found on the Internet.

    2. Matt’s right. NBC suits are only intended to keep alpha and beta emitters from settling on your skin, and are removed when you leave the hot area to avoid contaminating clean areas. They provide essentially zero protection from ionizing radiation.

      The only thing that stops gamma radiation (which is the real short-term danger from a nuclear event) is mass. Lots of it. If you need an expedient shelter, Cresson Kearny’s guide has some good options that you can build in a day or two if you have a little space and a little help.

      Nuclear War Survival Skills: Lifesaving Nuclear Facts and Self-Help Instructions

      If you’re building underground, be very careful, since earth is enormously heavy, around 1600 pounds per cubic yard, much more if it gets wet.

      If you already have a shelter, and want to line it with something to add protection without taking up space, then steel or lead sheeting might help, as they’re quite dense. If you use lead, obviously, you want to seal it with something to avoid leaching lead into your safe house. It’d be lame to survive the radiation and suffer neurological damage from lead poisoning.

  5. Hi, I have an underground bunker under my home (concrete slab) it was hard going but well worth it.

    Start to cut through and dig out between the outer walls first (one wall at a time) roughly 24″ in, to a depth of around 78″ and pour in the concrete mixture, add water-proofer as well. Do this all the way around the inside perimeter first, this keeps the strength in the walls.

    Once the perimeter is solid you can then work the rest of the floor until you are down to the level you need. I placed 50mm iron rods into the wall sides before concreting the walls, this gave the lateral support required. It is a hard job but if you take it a step at a time it can be done.

    I’ve noticed a post in here relating to radiation fallout, you say that it disperses within a week or two…I’ve read that radiation levels in Chernobyl are still dangerous after all these years!? You are saying that it would be safe to venture out after a couple of weeks?


    1. Chernobyl was a meltdown, that’s a different story than a nuclear blast.

      There is a lot more nuclear material in a reactor than there is in a warhead so it’s going to last longer. Warheads are primarily designed for heat and blast damage. Radioactivity is more of a side effect.

      Distance and time as well as shielding is the best defense. There is more to it than that, check out the public domain book; “In time of emergency a citizens handbook on nuclear attack, natural disasters (1968).” Much of the same info can be found in many other civil defense handbooks written in the 50s as well.

    2. Different nuclear components are created in a nuclear explosion vs. a dirty bomb or reactor leak. The half-life of those components is key. The worst of what is in a nuclear explosion dissipates in 3 days (assuming there is only fallout from one bomb), with the rest a week or two after that.

      You can go outside for a short time on day 3, with more time outside each day after that. However, the half-life of the components in a nuclear reactor leak or meltdown are mostly on the order of decades or more, with some that will last for thousands of years.

      This is why the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be rebuilt, while the area around Chernobyl will be unsafe for generations.

    3. Understand this is a dated post. Curious how much that alteration to create the bunker cost you, or did you complete the work yourself? Final question, if not you, what type of contractor? Thanks in advance.

      1. Working on plans for the DIY’er with a Structural Engineer.

        It is/should be possible for anyone with a hammer, saw, drill and shovel to be able to create their own safe, secure shelter, be it from tornados, burst pipelines or nukes.

        As was stated several times here, distance, shielding and time are the keys for fallout.

        Chernobyl is still leaking. Fukishima is still leaking. A nuke hits once and then dissipates. That is why Hiroshima and Nagasaki are safe and Kiev isn’t.

        If you can get 3+ feet of dirt between you and the outside world, you will be a long way towards that goal.

        There are zero guarantees, however.

        If you think you might be close to a target, save your money on a shelter and move, if at all possible.

        If not, dig.

        If you cannot dig, be it from a high water table, rocky ground, gas pipelines or even ordinances, build an above ground shelter that is fastened as best it can be to the ground and put 3+ feet of dirt on every side, especially the top.

        If you can do this without notice, then the ordinances are moot . . . until discovery.

        Water tables are more problematic.
        Rocky ground is problematic.

        Pipelines are an issue that may cause you to consider moving again, if possible.

        Nosey neighbors may also be a problem.

        They can tell the authorities, if the ordinances prohibit the build.

        They can ask to use your shelter when necessary. You COULD accommodate, if you can afford the room, supplies and tolerate them.

        If not, they should not KNOW.

        When asked, have a ready “cover story” for them.

        Example: Was planning to put up a shed and discovered an issue with the land that had to be corrected first.
        Then when you have completed your shelter, above or below ground, make sure that a shed is the only thing visible.

        This should give you a good start.

        I hope to have the DIY plans available soon. When that happens, I will do my best to let the Prepper community know.

    4. Must be nice to have the money to blow on an underground bunker when you don’t even understand that there are different kinds of radiation.

  6. Consider the benefits of a basalt aggregate in concrete, maybe basalt netting or re-bar, just a thought.

  7. Basalt fiber is a relatively cheap material that can be used as reinforcement.

    Gamma-ray attenuation remains relatively stable with addition of basalt fiber.
    Neutron attenuation remains relatively stable with addition of basalt fiber.
    Cement–basalt mixture has a good potential for use in nuclear energy applications.

  8. Hows this idea?

    I am personally thinking about reinforcing my garage with 2 layers of sand bags along each wall and then building a smaller structure inside the sandbags and putting 3 layers of sandbags on top of that structure.

    This way I have a personal nuke shelter that is in my house and no one but my family knows about it. I will probably also install lighting inside and a few car batteries that will be kept charged until the event in order to provide power for a few LED lights and maybe a radio.

    Oh and of course a few 5 gallon buckets to relieve one self and perhaps a month supply of food.

  9. If I was to build a fallout shelter in my basement would I also need some kind of air filter/purification?

  10. I can’t believe it took us and Russia decades to get out of the cold war and this idiot in the white house put us right back in the middle of it. Will these stupid sheeple ever wake up to what they are doing to our country?

    1. Quote, “Will these stupid sheeple ever wake up to what they are doing to our country?”

      Answer: No, not until it’s too late.

      1. I honestly feel that it is too late. Our country is already a “socialist” state and getting worse. That’s why the folks contributing to this site are getting ready for the coming social/economic meltdown (no pun intended). I look at our current situation in our wonderful country like a giant freight train rolling down the tracks to a big cliff. The more cars you pile on (socialism and debt), the harder it is to stop. Based on the actions of our federal government and many states in our country, we will not and cannot stop this giant freight train. Perhaps we will be able to slow it down on occasion but will not be able to stop it nor reverse its direction (Ha, that’s a joke). On the lighter side, perhaps the info that we learn on this site at least we might have a fighting chance of survival.

        On subject….if Iran nucs Israel we will more than likely be dealing with a Nuclear fallout (westerly wind flow) in a major way here in the US. The ground will be hit with fallout to a point that our gardens will produce unfit food to eat. Ofcourse it depends on the amount of radiation that ends up here but it will potentially be a very bad survival environment.

    2. Left Coast… you can thank Obama, Clinton and the Bushes for the threat… Under who’s watch did N. K. get the ability to do this? Not Trump.. Pull your head out…

      1. Really? Who has surrounded Who with Military Bases and Military Drills for the last few years? Who has bombed a dozen or so countries in the name of “Democracy” leaving shattered failed states full of Terrorists? Who has declared “Sanctions” on whom to damage and demoralize Russia?

        Sorry to say as a retired Vet as Pogo said so well :We have met the Enemy and it is US”. We have run roughshod over the world and soon will find out what happens when the USA has it’s credit card cut up. Prepare for when your dollar will be worth less than a Peso.

        1. Um ok so I didn’t know putin was a on this site than again don’t get me wrong I’m a republican but Trump is playing into Russia’s hands just like a dog

          1. Jerry (assuming your not a I-Phone hit and run liberal) there is a great number of things we the people will never know.

            NPR had an excellent radio show about the Cuban Missile Crisis just yesterday and to my ear sounded a LOT like what Trump is doing and getting slammed for today. Kennedy was HATED by the Military Complex that demanded he allow them to attack Cuba AND Russia while “We had the upper hand”.

            Kennedy was later revered for PREVENTING WW2

            Hopefully Trump will also see praise for PREVENTING WW2

            Your welcome to post here Jerry, just remember we will question and listen. We expect no less from you.

      2. Putin may be our biggest threat but if you really pay attention to the man he doesn’t want this kind of destruction. He doesn’t want it to come to this kinda stuff.. If Russia was to bomb us we would defend ourselves right? So why is it any different for Putin to protect his people? It’s a power struggle and the Vatican is getting everything they want, except for Putin bowing down and kissing their asses. That’s why the world is trying to make him out to be the bad guy when in fact it’s not him, it’s the assholes who want a one world order. No matter what we do this stuff is going to happen. Prepare, pray and stay out of the way.

    3. The soviet Union is the last Mostly Christian country, the Russians built more Churches than the US, the US built more Mosques than world wide. They must be destroyed.

  11. I’m a little confused. If gamma rays travel at speed of light… then it seems no matter how fast you can run unless you’re in your shelter BEFORE the blast goes off… your going to be exposed to them. What am I missing?

    1. Here is some text regarding ‘local fallout’ from a nuclear explosion:

      Most of the radiation hazard from nuclear bursts comes from short-lived radionuclides external to the body; these are generally confined to the locality downwind of the weapon burst point. This radiation hazard comes from radioactive fission fragments with half-lives of seconds to a few months, and from soil and other materials in the vicinity of the burst made radioactive by the intense neutron flux of the fission and fusion reactions.

      It has been estimated that a weapon with a fission yield of 1 million tons TNT equivalent power (1 megaton) exploded at ground level in a 15 miles-per-hour wind would produce fallout in an ellipse extending hundreds of miles downwind from the burst point. At a distance of 20-25 miles downwind, a lethal radiation dose (600 rads) would be accumulated by a person who did not find shelter within 25 minutes after the time the fallout began. At a distance of 40-45 miles, a person would have at most 3 hours after the fallout began to find shelter. Considerably smaller radiation doses will make people seriously ill. Thus, the survival prospects of persons immediately downwind of the burst point would be slim unless they could be sheltered or evacuated.

      It has been estimated that an attack on U.S. population centers by 100 weapons of one-megaton fission yield would kill up to 20 percent of the population immediately through blast, heat, ground shock and instant radiation effects (neutrons and gamma rays); an attack with 1,000 such weapons would destroy immediately almost half the U.S. population. These figures do not include additional deaths from fires, lack of medical attention, starvation, or the lethal fallout showering to the ground downwind of the burst points of the weapons.

      Most of the bomb-produced radionuclides decay rapidly. Even so, beyond the blast radius of the exploding weapons there would be areas (“hot spots”) the survivors could not enter because of radioactive contamination from long-lived radioactive isotopes like strontium-90 or cesium-137, which can be concentrated through the food chain and incorporated into the body. The damage caused would be internal, with the injurious effects appearing over many years. For the survivors of a nuclear war, this lingering radiation hazard could represent a grave threat for as long as 1 to 5 years after the attack.

      1. Ken

        Thanks. There is so much good information on your site. Your work is appreciated. The info about 20 miles 20 minutes, 40 miles 3 hours helps a lot to understand how much time I would have in relation to places here I think would be targets.

        I’ve said it before… nuclear war is just too horrible to imagine.

      2. FYI….the U.S. will notify the nuclear powers when our country will set off a nuclear weapon (per cold war agreements). If I remember correctly that during the cold war, the U.S. told the Soviet Union not to cross into Western Europe because we will nuc them (the US Army). That is the only way we could stop their attack—we would notify them ahead of time so they could prepare for the nucs. We could not stop the USSR with conventional weapons therefore were forced to use small tactical nucs against them if need be (5k and 10k ton bombs). Made sense at the time. And ofcourse the American forces were prepared to operate in a contaminated war zone and prepared to sustain thousands of casualties during the exchange. The people in this country are NOT prepared to survive and operate in a nuclear environment–you can count on millions of casualties and the end of our nation.

          1. How about building a small underground garden with controlled day/night cycles with grow lights and either a soil based system or hydroponics? This could supplement the hard food storage (dry goods and canned foods).

    2. Correct, so if you are in a probable target area (huge city, close to an important military installation or big airport) you should run away before TSHTF (the shit hit the fan) or be inside your shelter if you have one in the area. If you are exposed when a nuke hit, you should found shelter immediately because the more time you are exposed to radiation the more the damage.

  12. The best EMP construction method is something that is an everyday staple in the medical diagnostic world. That staple is the MRI. MRI’s work because they produce an EMP which easily penetrates you and the results are recorded. However, it will not effect you, but the EMP must be contained in the room or every electronic in the area is affected. MRI containment room construction is easily found on the web. The simplicity is the room is a good shelter in an EMP attack.

  13. @Jereome and others,

    If you build a shelter just to keep out radiation you have left yourself really completely exposed. Any structure that you build must withstand the shock wave that comes along with the nuclear blast.

    If your structure caves in from the shock wave you are not any better off especially if you’re in it at the time. The shock wave will generate a pressure pulse of about 30 psi, this is 4320 lbs per square foot. Can I recommend that you find a friendly mechanical engineer to design your structure?

    If you contact me thru Ken I will help you at no cost. By the way, the best dirt to use is iron ore gravel that is used to surface roads and is very inexpensive. Best wishes.

    1. Hi, I am @ 25 miles east of Macon, GA with 2/3 acre about 1/2 mile from a HUGE lake (Lake Tchutalako) I will be placing two 20′ metal shipping containers @ 15 feet underground side by side, with a hatch at top to climb down into. I will place about 4-5 feet of dirt to cover them. Therefore the whole unit will be 15 feet underground with @ 5 feet of dirt on top. i will have it vented, air supplied, water storage, waste disposal, etc… set up. Will that protect my family and friends if Macon gets hit??


      1. @ John B.

        YA might make darn sure you get some structural reinforcement done to those “shipping containers”, they WILL collapse with 4-5 feet of soil on-top. They are not designed to support that sort of load.


        1. Exactly. The frames of the shipping containers will easily support the 5′ of soil but between the frame you need welded steel support.

      2. Have you considered where the water table is? Digging a hole to bury the containers my result in your hitting water.

  14. Isn’t it great to have all these ‘Experts’ advising how to protect ourselves from Nuclear Blast & Fallout?

    As John F. Kennedy once stated, “Never trust the ‘experts'”.

    “Time and Fortune happens to us all.”

    1. Actually, a lot of this advice is still from the 1960’s, when yes, the best scientific minds in the country were tackling the issue.

      Radiation science hasn’t changed since then (obviously), only the level of regular American knowledge on the topic has changed. Also, the likelihood of a full blown war are less likely than the much more survivable singular nuclear event.

      QED: Listen to what these “experts” say. It’s not wrong.

      1. You’re correct. All the physics behind the radiation and shielding is thoroughly valid form the 50’s/60’s (ya can’t change the laws of physics!).
        Fortunately, medical studies show that the effect of ionizing radiation on living tissue is far less than researchers initially concluded. The LNT theory has been mostly debunked. While the very short term absorbtion rates (that pesky 450-500R LD50 limit) are true, we can absorb moreover a longer period of time, or be exposed to short burts periodically without it accumulating as much as once thought.

  15. The MAJOR problem is that a LOT of people are stuck living in apartments. As far as I know there ain’t much people can do about to protect themselves from this in those.

    1. That is correct. In that situation, if you’re not blasted in the initial explosion, and if you are within the potential fallout zone (check the wind pattern), your best bet is to get out of there. Time, Distance…

    2. Move to the center of the building or underground parking areas with the entrances barracaded with sandbags.

  16. We have a concrete room in the basement. I have it stocked.

    The room was here when we moved in. I think they were using it as a type of root cellar. Gets cold down there.

    Have thick sleeping bags, a rug and mattress top in there. Hope we never have to use the room, but it’s there if we need it.

    If you don’t have a basement or “bunker room” just put as much mass between you and windows as possible. Put book shelves, dressers, etc. in front of windows.
    They say 48 hours is somewhat safe period of time before going out. I would give it at least 2 weeks though.

    Having dogs will be a bit of a challenge, but we have lots of “doggie pee pads” and garbage bags and metal garbage cans with tight lids. Antibacterial wipes, etc.

  17. Carry a shovel with you in your vehicle and you can make an emergency car-over-trench shelter. Dig out a trench, drive your car over it, throw the dirt inside your car & trunk & on the hood and roof…

    1. Very smart idea when caught out and about. Just keep that vehicle stocked with food, water, medication,blankets, wipes, iso-tablets to protect the thyroid, etc, etc, etc.

  18. Can anyone explain further?

    “Even so, beyond the blast radius of the exploding weapons there would be areas (“hot spots”) the survivors could not enter because of radioactive contamination from long-lived radioactive isotopes like strontium-90 or cesium-137, which can be concentrated through the food chain and incorporated into the body”

    We do have a Geiger counter but how does one know if one is in or near a “hot spot”?

    Would most fall out be neutralized after two weeks?

    I understand our chances of survival in an all out attack would be slim as mentioned above in Ken’s post where I got the quote from…

    But it is good to have at least some understanding in the case you are among the survivors.

    Can someone post how long you can safely go outside and for how long post nuclear event?

    When would spring or well water be OK?

    Wisdom and Peace to all~

  19. When I lived on the Oregon Coast, I got into prepping in a big, serious way. One of the items I purchased was a NUKALERT 24/7 radiation monitor and alarm. It was not cheap, but since it has a shelf-life of 14 years, I thought it would be worth it. Then, in March, 2011, Fukushima happened. I did not give it too much thought until the following week after the disaster.

    We left Brookings, OR for Medford, OR for a doctor’s appointment. It had rained the night before. As I was driving South on I-5 from Grants Pass, I noticed a whistling sound I could not place. I thought our CD player was acting up. I turned it off and the whistling continued. Then I realized it was the NUKALERT clipped to my vest.

    The detector was picking up the Cesium-137 and the Iodine-131 which had traveled across the Pacific from Japan and had come down in the rainstorm. Our van’s vent system was sucking the isotopes in with the outside air.

    For the next few months, the device would start chirping on and off. When I was in Salem that June, It was really whistling Dixie as I was driving along a main drag with a lot of construction going on, heading to I-5. About mid-August of 2011, it quieted down.

    I would recommend one of these devices. I have no financial stake in this company. Also, buy Potassium Iodate, not Potassium Iodide. When Chernobyl happened, the children given the Iodide had side-effects that others did not get when they took the Iodate. Get prepped, ladies and gentlemen. The Hildabeest will be our next POTUS. She will get us into a shooting war with the Russians. It’s almost a given. Pray it does not happen.

    1. Ahh!! Craziness. I was in the same coast at the time and didn’t want to believe that it was making it over here. Thanks for your first hand experience.

    2. OH WILL SHE?
      Clearly YOUR choice is doing a much better job. smh.

  20. 1. I am a certified nuclear power worker. This means I have seen the inside of some 25-30 reactor compartments. This has been on Naval ships/subs and some privately held.

    2. Gamma, to put it simple, is like a bunch of tiny lasers. It penetrates you and cuts you up like Swiss cheese. Like Ken said it takes a lot of mass to shield you. This is why all US reactors are encased in 1-2 feet of steel or 3 plus feet of concrete. But, on a plus, if a bomb goes to say 100 feet above the ground down town big city and you are 40 miles away with lots of buildings, hills and trees between you and ground zero the numbers go way up for survival. All of that stuff slows down the gamma radiation.

    3. Now for the fall out. It sucks and it ain’t nice. It will be a mess and painful to deal with. Remember the down town big city? Well, all of the stuff that was blown up is now air born and contaminated as all get out. It is bug small and microscopic sized and flying through the air and where it lands nobody knows.

    Now to the scary stuff radiation is mixing with chemicals, metals, asbestos, water, human waste and god knows what. A reaction is going to happen and with all that stuff and the results are anyone’s guess. Water that flows from the general direction of the blast could be unsafe for days, weeks or months. This is due to crap getting in at first and also from run off.

    3. A lot will have to do with the size of the bomb, what materials are used and where it hits. Major military bases are number one, then cities that are ‘bug’ but have no value like Los Angeles. But Yuma, AZ has a military base and a ton of crop production so it will be useful to an invading army. Plus bug cities are hard to control so with them gone it makes life easier.

    4. Stay under cover. It was already said fall out settles on all surfaces. A good rain a week or so after an event is your best friend. It will ruin local water for a while but it will wash the crap away.

    5. Like already said, Time, Distance and Shielding. Are your best friend. Plus ALARA(AS LOW AS REASONABLY ACHIEVABLE) meaning until all clear do everything at arm’s length. Keep your vital organs as far away as possible. Check water at arm’s length. Hold your Geiger counter at arms length. Your hand can handle a higher dose than your heart.

    I am just trying to help not rant. I will try to answer any questions.

  21. I don’t know much about the differences between potassium iodide and iodate–most of what I can find on-line is on Wikipedia or written by the companies that sell the products–neither of which I trust to be completely honest and accurate. That leaves me with something from the government. Here is an abstract from a paper published in Nov. 1993 in the Health Physics journal, as listed in PubMed.gov, which is part of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health:

    Potassium iodide is the preferred thyroid blocker for personnel handling radioiodine and is recommended as a prophylaxis for the population in the near-field of a nuclear reactor which would be likely to be exposed to radioiodine in an accidental breach of containment. However, in hot and humid climates, this hygroscopic chemical has a poor shelf life due to hydrolytic loss of iodine vapors.

    On the other hand, another iodine-rich salt, potassium iodate (KIO3), is quite stable and has a much longer shelf life. The present study compares potassium iodide and KIO3 as thyroid blockers and examines the appropriate time at which they should be administered in case of radioiodine exposure. Either of the two were given in recommended dosage (100 mg stable iodine per 70 kg body weight) at -2, 0, +2, +4, +6, and +8 h after administration of tracer quantities of radioiodine (131I) to age-, weight-, and sex-matched rats. 131I uptake in thyroid was measured 24 h after its administration in the experimental animals and compared with placebo administered controls.

    Results suggest that KIO3 is as effective a thyroid blocking agent as potassium iodide. In comparison to controls, 24-h thyroid uptake of 131I can be substantially reduced if potassium iodide or KIO3 is given to the animals within 2-4 h after exposure to 131I. Another noteworthy observation is that KIO3 is effective even at 8 h when administered at twice the usual dosage in comparison to the single dose, which does not show appreciable thyroid blocking properties after 8 h.

    1. iOSAT™ [potassium iodide] protects against radioactive iodine by preventing its absorption by the thyroid gland by saturating the thyroid with stable iodine, “filling it to capacity”. Once filled, the gland “turns off” its absorption mechanism, and it will remain off long enough for the radioactive iodine to disappear naturally.

      This method of protection is extremely safe and effective, and up to 99% of all radiation induced thyroid damage can be avoided by the use of iOSAT™.

      Because of the inherent safety, the FDA allows iOSAT™ to be sold without a prescription for radiation protection. Its use, however, should be limited to radiation emergencies, and only when recommended by emergency response authorities.

      Note: People should not take iOSAT™ who have a specific allergy to iodide.

      iOSAT™ is manufactured in the United States under strict FDA “GMP guidelines,” and holds an approved “New Drug Application” (NDA).

      iOSAT™ is the only product which can be purchased by local, state and federal governments and is widely purchased by nuclear utilities.

      iOSAT™ comes full strength (130 mg of potassium iodide per tablet) in accordance with FDA demands for complete thyroid blocking.

      The daily dosage under new FDA guidelines call for the daily administration of one iOSAT tablet (130 mg. of potassium iodide (KI)) for adults and children over 18 years old who weigh more that 150 pounds. Children from age 3 to 18 years old who weigh less than 150 pounds should take ½ tablet. Children from age one month to 3 years should take ¼ tablet. If necessary, children too young to take solid food or unable to swallow a tablet can take iOSAT™ dissolved in a liquid (such as chocolate milk) or in a soft food such as applesauce.

        1. Already stocked the kids up on tablets… bought it a year ago, and enough for their family, too. Wrote directions on a bottle in magic marker, on tape. Might not fix everything, but certainly a good start.

      1. Potassium Iodide pills won’t help protect you from radiation poisoning if you live within a 50 mile radius of a 100 Megaton nuclear bomb detonation(largest bomb). Buildings will collapse and you will go up in fire. Outside that range you stand a chance…if you are not downwind of the fallout and can protect yourself from gangs of scavengers who will steal your water/food/supplies and take over your bunker. Your survival rate is near zilch no matter how well you prepare…you will run out of ammo. I would rather go up in a puff of smoke than be cannibalized for meat. Does an extra week really matter if you take the pills?

        1. Indeed, a 100 Megaton nuclear bomb will certainly ruin one’s day.

          That said, if I didn’t go up in a puff of smoke and ash, yes I would do what I could to self-preserve. It’s my instinct to survive.

          Additionally, I would NOT be living very near such a city or place that might be targeted by a 100 Megaton nuke. Therefore I have increased my odds of survival (to an extent).

        2. There is no 100-megaton bomb in service with any nuclear power, nor has there ever been. The largest weapons fielded currently are in the vicinity of 5 megatons, by the Chinese. The largest current US weapon is 1.2 megatons.

          1. You are dead wrong…Russia and China,and U.S. have 100+ megaton bombs and Israel has 20 megaton bombs…do your research and don’t lie to people!!!

          2. Snidely ,,,,bad news ,,,,we had 100meg ton 35yrs ago ,,learn to love the bomb.

          3. Source ‘Wikipedia’:
            “The Mk/B53 was a high-yield bunker buster thermonuclear weapon developed by the United States during the Cold War. Deployed on Strategic Air Command bombers, the B53, with a yield of 9 megatons, was the most powerful weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal after the last B41 nuclear bombs were retired in 1976.

            The B53 was the basis of the W-53 warhead carried by the Titan II Missile, which was decommissioned in 1987. Although not in active service for many years before 2010, fifty B53s were retained during that time as part of the “hedge” portion[3] of the Enduring Stockpile until its complete dismantling in 2011. The last B53 was disassembled on 25 October 2011, a year ahead of schedule.[4][5]

            With its retirement, the largest bomb currently in service in the U.S. nuclear arsenal is the B83, with a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons.[6] The B53 was replaced in the bunker-busting role by a variant of the two-stage B61 nuclear bomb.”

          4. Allen E Hall, Owner at Aerospace Eng & Mfg Consultant (2014-present)
            Updated Nov 12 2017
            In active deployment the Chinese are the only ones with a a couple of dozen bombs in the 3 to 5 megaton size range. The Russians still have a few 20 mt bombs on SS-18 but they are supposed to be retired shortly the rest of their inventory has a max size of to 800 kt and the USA is planning to retire and dismantling the (B83–1 ) 1.2 megaton bombs by 2025, there are 100 tactical B83–1 deployed and the largest deployed strategic warheads are 455 kt. Megaton bombs are no longer desirably. We live in an age of precision bombing where you kill what you aim for with a minimal of collateral damage. The need for “city buster” bombs no longer exists.

  22. This is probably a dumb question but what the heck.

    For those of us that don’t live anywhere near a city, how exactly are we going to know if we are downwind of a burst? I mean, with all the bombs going off I’m sure the accompanying EMPs will be knocking out power and TV and radio signals, so I don’t think there will be any broadcasts with local wind patterns with fallout charts and such. We’re probably going to be able to hear the bursts wherever we are, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to always be able to tell where they’re coming from. Especially if you live in rolling hill country where sounds come from every direction all at once sometimes. Any advice? Or do we just go jump in a hole every time we hear a car backfire?

    I don’t think there are any targets nearby to my west and the winds are usually west to east, but who knows, winds change.

    Another question. Speaking of winds. Weather is basically warm air moving towards cooler air. A bunch of bombs going off is going to create a lot of warm air all over the place. Are there any wind pattern predictions for after the bombs? Winds might be going west to east one minute then after the bombs maybe north/south, east/west, etc.

    I know they have maps out there with fallout predictions, but they’re just hypothetical. Those patterns may have existed from past tests, but those tests were usually one bomb out in the ocean or desert somewhere. They plotted points on a map and input the fallout predictions from that, but do they take into account several bombs going off in many directions, maybe not all at once but probably pretty close together. Have they taken into account the instant regional temperature changes? I’ve seen the maps they have and I have my doubts that the fallout will travel in a nice pretty west to east pattern as they show.

    Maybe if enough go off the winds will reverse the earth’s rotation and we’ll go back in time and learn to not do it.

    If anyone tells me to turn around till I feel the wind on my face and see if I see a mushroom cloud in that direction I’m just gonna laugh. I live in a draw on the side of a mountain and all I can see is trees in all directions. Basically the only time I can see the sky is if I look up, I don’t have a horizon view. For me the sun sets about an hour or more before the actual sunset.

    1. You can watch the leaves on the trees to gauge wind direction, observe the direction of a flag if you fly one, or install a wind sock at different spots on your property.

  23. Anonymous,
    The key is that the predominate winds blow from the West to East.
    What is West of you?

  24. Get ready NOW. Once she is president, we will enter a era of incredible horrors.

    1. Protect needed devices from EMP { backup radios, LED lights , solar panels, battery chargers, generators, etc} . I am convinced we will see a false flag EMP on America, to usher in WW3.

    2. Get your food/ water stored. At least 2 weeks worth for your family and preferably 6 months worth. Its safer to not have to leave your premises, in times of disaster/war/complete shutdown. People can be just as dangerous as fallout.

    3. Have your shelter area laid out and ready .

    4. Dont count on your corrupt evil govt, to warn you of impending danger. Make sure you know how to spot impending danger on your own. For example. If the power goes out in your house, turn on a portable battery powered radio with good batteries. If it doesnt run on, it may be sign of a EMP attack.

    5. If you use medicines, make sure to have a supply saved up.

    6. Have a radiation survey meter that is working properly. This will be worth its weight in gold, if nukes go off.

    Thats just a few things. Prepare now , because once it happens, its to late to adequately prepare. DO NOT COUNT ON GOD, GOVT , NEIGHBORS TO SAVE YOU. SAVE YOURSELF.

    IMHO, once Hillary is in, the world will never be the same afterwards. TPTB want war with Russia.

  25. What good is a shelter if you are out shopping when it hits. Even a bunker addition to your house seems useless if you are watching TV or in bed sleeping.

    1. One way to look at it is:
      I have a bottle of aspirin in the medicine cabinet, but I didn’t have a headache when I was in the bathroom.
      I have my freezer plugged in, but I don’t have any ice cream right now.
      I have an air compressor in my garage, but I don’t have a flat tire on my truck.
      I have car insurance, but I haven’t wrecked my car lately.

  26. So if I wanted to build a underground fallout shelter I would need to have 3 feet of dirt overhead ! How do you build something strong enough to support the tons of soil ! Footers , block walls, and roof ? It sounds complicated but there must be a simple answer…

  27. If you are not at ground zero the biggest threat will be the heat and pressure wave. Even at 5 miles, if you do not have at least 3 feet of overhead cover that is reinforced, the pressure wave is going to pop your shelter like a grape. At ground level the main pressure wave will combine with the ground reflection to amplify the pressure. If you are exposed to that in anyway, your body will not survive it in any condition worth living.

    Many people who build shelters in basements also need to consider the discharge of water, natural gas (if you have it), and sewage that is going to flood your basement. If the house above you starts on fire, then you will be in the heart of that fire. With it on top of you, it may be VERY difficult to escape.

    Also consider the possibility of multiple blasts within your area. If you are living between two or more targets, you’re in deep doo doo. You might as well just shoot yourself.

    Honestly, this may sound crazy, but if you are close to a target (5 miles), you would probably be better off buying some large gun cabinets, putting them in your basement, covering them with sandbags, and climbing inside. When it’s all over, get the hell out if you can and relocate. Think of a “Pulowski Preservation shelter” in Fallout 4 (video game) but in your basement.

    1. I’d also like to add that in EVERY situation where our government was aware of danger from nuclear attack, they public was never informed. It is highly likely that we will not get a warning and never make it to the shelters. If we are lucky, public news will report it but they probably will only find out last minute or when they receive reports of our missiles launching. Either way…..very little time.

  28. All good info to know. However, say you have implemented one of these options. How long would you have to stay enclosed before it was safe enough to go back out?


    1. Figuring in my head, you should be around 120-130 for the top and way higher on the sides. You would get less than 1% of the gamma radiation that you would otherwise get outside. Any doors or vents could reduce your protection if not properly designed.

    2. 12” compacted earth has a PF of 333.
      12” concrete has a PF of 500.

      So little less than 600 . 1000 is what is recommended

  30. So should I use steel to surround my bunker area? My bunker area is a room in my basement. I don’t know where to buy enough steel to cover all the walls.

  31. What is better for the 1st week: A hermetically sealed wood structure or a drafty, leaky concrete basement (parking garage as the extreme example)? One has no dust and no contamination, but doesn’t shield at all, the other shields perfectly but is unsealed.

    1. The basement would probably be better as you have better protection from gamma radiation and protects you from blast damage.

  32. Does anyone know if people that take levothroid and/T3 thyroid medication can still take potassium Iodide in an emergency?

    1. Great question! I hope someone who may know is able to answer this one as more and more people are dealing with thyroid issues.

  33. I live in 1970’s wooden house, no basement – town/county has NO fallout shelter…. and by the time I get home, no place else to go and shelter. Biggest prob: I rent my home. Question: Would medical apron/thyroid proaction, lead blanket, etc be effective? These products can be bought directly from manufacturers and with little to no money [trying to get food/water/meds etc… stored now. This could be a lifesaver if you could research and give honest professional advice. Am thinking at very least, a lead blanket in the car could help while trying to get home…. Please advise on this idea! And thank you so much for this blog. Rene

    1. Unfortunely no. I have done much research on this. Lead aprons are design to reduce low radiation (i.e. dental x-rays) some more in important vital organ areas (reproductive organs esp.). Particles from radioactive fallout are like millions of tiny x-ray heads that shoot in all directions gamma rays that are much more powerful and penetrate more than routine x-rays. You would need a 4 inch thick lead complete body suit that covers you from head to toe. This would be impracticle for several reasons ….. cost, weight, mobility…. Your best option is to dig a makeshift shelter and have materials that you can cover over the top. You can find designs online. 3 ft of packed earth or 2ft on concrete from all sides will reduce the penetration of these rays by 1000 (the best survival scenario)

  34. I’ve been looking all over the internet for guides but cannot find anything but we live 50 miles North of Fort Benning,if by chance the base would get hit, how long do we have before the fallout? Thank you

    1. Depending on wind speed and direction, approximately 30min – 1hour after blast before fallout reaches you at 50miles. Use that time to get basics together and get to or build your shelter.

  35. Rehabing a country church into a home. Full basement with restrooms in 10″ x 10′ space. Was giving some thought into turning that space into a tornado shelter here in tornado alley. ( 2 in last 5 years within a half mile. )

    By the time I put in the concrete walls etc. I am halfway into a fallout shelter. Exploring the idea.

    I see numerous plans with bricks between the 12″ floor joists above but when I look at the tables you have, I need 24″ of concrete. to meet the 1/1,000 shielding. How much shielding you need is noticeably ABSENT on the internet, But you did have it.. Thanks.
    My first thought for additional shielding above is to put in a plastic lined frame and fill it with water. I am on a well and have a generator to run it. But according to your tables, I would need 36 inches of water in addition to the 12″ of brick. Otherwise, sandbags if I have time to fill them.

    Still, all the plans don’t provide near the shielding for that 1/1,000 factor. So begs the question how much is enough to survive without radiation poisoning?

    1. A good rule of thumb from my understanding is you would need approx. 110 pounds per square foot. I would say compacted sand mixed with lead shot (if you can get that much) or hollow concrete blocks filled and compacted with a high density material.
      If it happens, try to pile as much heavy stuff as you can on the floor above your shelter as soon as possible to get a bit more protection. Underground you should be fairly well off on the sides, it’s the ceiling that will need the most shielding.

  36. Neutron Bombs yield 10 times the gamma radiation as a traditional nuke. Does this need to be factored in?

  37. What if you don’t have a shelter to get to and are stuck in a house? Get in the bathtub? Or are you just screwed? Many people live in rentals and don’t have the option of building a shelter. Is some shielding better than nothing? For instance, in the middle of the house in the bathroom in the bathtub?

    1. @ Kevin…Yes, anything is better than nothing. If you got a basement, there you go. Even a crawl space you can fit in for a few days. A cast iron tub would be best, but in an interior room and then you still want a good heavy structure over your head.
      If none of the above are available, build a fort (think kids with couch cushions) out of everything you can around a dinning room table or other sturdy piece you and yours can fit under.

  38. This may be a dumb question, but I remember reading a while back that when people are flying in jets, they are exposed to increased radiation, and something to the effect, that 80%+ of the radiation they were exposed to was ionizing radiation. The article suggested that the damaging effects of ionizing radiation could be reduced by taking mega-doses of antioxidants like Vitamin C to counteract the damaging effects. I’m sure this was referring to low doses such as that you might experience on a flight and not an extreme dose of it. I was just curious if there is anything else someone might take to help their body deal with the potential adverse effects of radiation?

    1. @ Kevin…there are a few things you can do to protect from radioneuclides, but not the damage from the rays and heat generated. Resveratrol found in red wine is showing to block against radiation damage to cell walls, potassium iodide to block I 131 uptake and zeolites (aluminum silicate nanoparticles) are being studied for the ability to bind to caseium isotopes.

    2. Kevin, go to you tube…. type in search bar….”mitigating radiation poisoning” several things suggested by various naturopaths/holistic type …

  39. A single 100kt yield nuclear weapon will vaporise anything within a 5 mile radius of ground zero. Concrete structures and pretty much anything else within a further 10-15 miles will be incinerated. Anyone within a 30-50 immediate radius will survive less than a week, radiation poisoning will be the primary cause. Other factors will decimate population further and exponentially in relation to weapon strikes. Less than a hundred such weapons will render US uninhabitable for anything. Don’t think for a minute a bunker will do you any favours. Are you really that stupid? Even if you did survive a full scale nuclear attack (Russian weapons are far greater than 100kt – 1mt yield for most icbm warheads would be expected) what would you want to live in an irradiatied wasteland with no law and order whatsoever – complete anarchy, disease, famine (etc etc) for anyway? Your /our way of life would cease to be. It’s as simple as that and we allow politicians to put us all in this awful predicament. How stupid are we?

      1. Hi Jon,
        Cheers for the reply. Optimism is always good, I’d never knock it but the notion that an actual nuclear war with Russia (and their allies) is a situation that could be tackled by filling your basement with concrete/steel and laying low for a couple of weeks (should the worse happen) is daft. We’d all be fckd. Remember It’s not just biological after-effects that survivors would encounter. No. We’d all be fckd. We’d be either roasted or slowly poisoned – or eaten by zombies :) I’m not saying we should lobby politicians against nukes – that’s up to you. I’m saying stop wasting time and money on bunkers and all the other daft stuff suggested. Spend it on booze or something and practise killing zombies instead.

    1. You want to know why so many of us disagree with you, Jack? You want to know why I would rather live in an irradiated wasteland full of disease and famine than die? One feeling. One dangerous, yes, but persistent feeling. The feeling that got the world through the Cold War unscathed. The feeling that got a man on the moon. The feeling, that without, we wouldn’t be here today. Hope. And I’d rather die filled with hope than live in fear. Do people just give up when their house is destroyed, whether by a hurricane, or by a nuke? No. Do people build bunkers out of fear? No. We build them out of hope.

  40. I live in Tasmania and the most likely targets closest to me is over 1000km away possibly even as far as 3000km away but were I live it straight down range. It would take between one to 3 days for any fallout to reach us how deadly will the fall out be after this time and distance ?

    As I rent I plan to bug out and bury the car under 1 and 1/2 feet of soil would this be enough ?

    Thanks in Advance

    1. There are 5 primary effects of a nuclear detonation:

      1. Heat (thermal radiation)
      2. EMP (Electro-Magnetic-Pulse)
      3. Initial Nuclear Radiation
      4. Blast
      5. Radioactive Fallout

      i’m not an expert, but if you are 1000km-3000km (621-1864miles) away from the detonation site, The only thing you have to worry about would be #5 and maybe #2.

      So focusing on protecting your car from the EMP effect of a high-altitude burst.

      Also, protecting yourself/food and water supply from small particle fallout (it will lose most of its radiation at that distance).

      In my opinion, if your around 3000km away, work on other things like LONG-TERM survival….So focus on shelter/water/food/security/fuel/medical supplies. Stock up as much as you can afford.

      There are excellent resources online, look for books on survival (hunting and trapping)//off-grid living (solar/wind power/sustainable living (gardening & water collection)/security (self-defense).

      p.s. if you bury your car and fill it with dirt, it might be hard to bugout later if you have too… : )

    1. Candy,,,,,, a container will NOT protect you unless you bury it ,under 3 ft,of damp dirt

  41. Some one on the post asked about foam insulation being of any use? Does anyone know if it would be of any help? Thanks Pat

    1. Well aside from using foam to keep the radioactive dust aka fallout out of your shelter or perhaps helping to keep you insulated from the cold in your basement while waiting the 14 days (Rule of 7’s) foam will not directly stop radiation. There is a free PDF file about Nuclear Survival by Kearny that would be good reading for all.

      1. Thank you for the answer, as i was wondering if putting the foam core panels in the basement windows of my split level house would be of any help. Just came across this web site yesterday. lots of information to take in. Thank you again Pat

        1. Anonymous aka Pat

          Welcome to the Site, old Ken here does a heck of a GREAT job with a new article everyday (mostly).
          Please feel free to ask away with questions, just watch out for the TP man…. HAHHAHAHA inside joke, if you hang around, you’ll get it
          Is 600 rolls of TP really enough?

          1. Thank you. { TP well I guess that depends on weather you are a man or a women ;o} and how long you plan to be out of site}

    1. Anon,,NO the container willnot protect you unless you bury it at least 3ft under ground with a right angle entry

      1. Old Homesteader,
        Seems this question keeps coming up, and you keep answering it. Think maybe it’s time for an article on radiation and radioactive fallout again? It is confusing to a lot of people. I know from the answers you have given that you have some real background in this area. All I remember if my days of that stuff was the RCT’s mantra , “time, distance, and shielding”. The stuff we used for shielding is not practical for the average Joe. Hmmm, maybe I’ll go do some brushing up on all that stuff and write an article for Ken.

  42. My personal shelter(kinda like tomb) is standard cement blocks 16″ long FILLED with ordinary sand. 9 Halving Thickness (1.75″ *9) between me and radioactive fallout reduces the radiation by a factor of 512. 1000rads/512= <2rads Works for me and is cheap. Only need to stay in for 2-3 days before I can stretch my legs for an hour a day. Biggest problem is where the animals are going to s#!t.
    Anyone confused look up Halving Thickness of materials.

    1. Diaper them, and give them a benadryl….according to a vets instructions for calming said critters of course…

  43. Jacquoline. Yes you can use plexiglas, plan on it to be about 19 feet thick. Shielding depends on the density of the material. A 1 inch thick piece of steel that is 1 foot by 1 foot square will weigh more than a piece of concrete with the same dimensions. A piece of lead with the same dimensions would weigh more that the steel. The denser the material the more shielding it will provide.

    As far as the 19 foot thick piece of plexiglas, I just pulled that number out of thin air. I have no idea but probably not a good plan tp put windows in a fallout shelter unless they can be shuttered with a very dense material.

    I am certainly not an expert but do recall that there are 3 essential factors that come into play. One it the distance from the radioactive source. Another is the amount of time you are exposed to it and the third is the amount of shielding between you and the source.

    Hopefully others will chime in on this to give you more insight.

  44. Actually, certain plastics have good radiation shielding properties, as they have large hydrogen chain molecules in them. Still, you are looking at several feet in thickness for gamma and neutron protection. It is used in the industry in places where they cannot use lead or steel effectively for shielding. Also in the industry they use leaded glass in gloveboxes, where they need to see things, but the radiation levels are fairly low compared to a nuclear blast. Very expensive. I would recommend that you forget windows in a shelter altogether. Mounded dirt is your best ‘bang for your buck’, using steel, wood and concrete as structural elements to support the earth.

  45. The comments on this article began in 2012 upon original post date. I’ve updated the article several times since (due to some popularity on search engines), and now again in 2019. I had received an email from someone inquiring about more information and sources. So I’ve updated the list, and made some tweaks – having re-checked sources (and listed some of them). Anyway, it’s interesting info. Hopefully never to be needed! But hey, there are a LOT of nuclear weapons out there… I’m just glad I live in “the middle of nowhere” ;)

  46. Ken,

    Sorta ironic ain’t it. Sixty three years ago, I was being taught this stuff in the first grade. We were sent home with mimeographed (stone-age equivalent of photocopies, for you youngsters) copies of this information, complete with plans for home constructed fallout shelters, suggested supplies, etc., for our parents. Buildings with sub-basements, tunnels, and caves were designated “public” fallout shelters and stocked with long term food, water, and hygiene supplies. Signs were posted on side walks and roads directing folks to their locations. “Nuclear winter” was feared.

    Fast forward to the late 1980’s, as the expected shelf life of these supplies had come and gone, they removed the stocks and disposed of them, removed the signs, and they faded into history. Except that is, for those maintained for our dear leaders.

    Interestingly, here some 30 years later, our enemies’ are executing a crash program of building and identifying fallout shelters for their populace, and stockpiling survival stocks. We, on the other hand, are being told three weeks of food stocks might be wiser than three days. Man caused global warming is the primary threat, and folks like us, preppers and survivalists, are nut jobs to be feared and ridiculed.

    foot note: I was selected as the designated radiation monitor for my 1st grade class. I was so proud. I was assigned a radiation dosimeter. My job was to go outside after the first week to get a reading. Wasn’t till years later, looking back, did I realize that I had been selected as the sacrificial lamb.

    1. Yes, I recall a year or two ago? when Russia evidently renewed their efforts to build nuke shelters and preparedness for the population there. It certainly raised an eyebrow with me. Interesting.

      So… you were the sacrificial lamb back in 1st grade! That’s too funny. Did you pizz off your teacher or something? ;)

  47. Some things. I know about,,,,first off if you see the fire ball you are zapped by gamma,,, if you are fried depends on how close you are ,real simple ,seeing the light of the flash is different ,, gamma is here and now and gone ,,,,just being behind a heavy concrete wall out of the direct line of sight of the blast is all you need provided your out of the blast zone remember gamma travel in a straight line from the blast ,,,than you real worry is Alfa and beta in fall out , if you have some shelter for two weeks your chances are very good ,the center of a large two story house will protect you in the basement if you keep the hot dust out and you keep it out of you , think distances and time ,, a high count is not the end of the world ,, I have had a hot badge a number of times , was in my 30s,im in my 70s and so far doing ok ,i think alcohol is a greater health risk or being over weight.
    And add stress to that too,,,,,,,,,,,who is John Galt? you do know don’t you
    Tea and chocolate

    1. – 0ldhomesteader,
      I just remember an old “nursery rhyme” about ’30 days hath September, April, June, and a man with a thousand Rads.

      – Papa S.

      1. Papa s,,,,,,,, yep,,something I have seen ,there is a bell curve to rad exposure tolerance , have a person I know that was hit hard ,way over LD ,38 yrs ago was a little sick but is still going ,and going strong ,still crazy as a bed bug ,, we joke not all are mere mortals,,,,,,,,,,
        One of the things I like about thorium is it’s easy to work with , ,,,,,,,,,,,,,
        Tea and chocolate

    2. Oldhomesteader, thank you very much for your simple helpful advice from real knowledge and your life experiences…I will share your post with my family….
      God bless you and Mrs. OH and your family and critters out there
      Tea and chocolate for you, homemade mango smoothie for me, cheers :)

  48. I do not worry about nuclear bomb radiation, because I have a special pair of ruby-red shoes, which I keep in my bedroom closet. When I heard the air raid siren, I put them on and face toward the primary target and wait. When I see the brilliant flash of the bomb going off, I leap into the air as high as I can…so I can be turned into space dust over Kansas.

  49. Edit suggestion: … 300/lbs per cubic foot should be replaced with 375/lbs per square foot. The height of the mass would be irrelevant as long as it was 300 (really closer to 375) per square ft. I have been looking at a lot of information on this this for a number of years. Easy mistake to make. Thanks for your effort!

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