Gosh, it's nostalgic to see this kind of instruction on how to survive Armageddon popping up again after 60-some years. Brings back my childhood and all those good times huddled under the desk.

Not that what Greg says is bad advice (it doesn't age), but what you folks need is some good ol' graveyard humor. Hum along with this, and I guarantee that you'll feel much better.


Just sing out a te deum
When you see that ICBM
And the party will be "come as you are"!

On Wed 9 Aug 2017 12:18 PM, Greg Nelson wrote:
I'm actually in the radiation measurement business, so I suppose I ought to reply.  However, this is my perspective as an individual and not representative of my employer.  Also, this is kind of dire so if that is not what you want to read today, consider yourself forewarned.

First and foremost let's hope it doesn't go there.  But based on your "if something dire actually happens" premise, I think the following considerations are relevant.

1. All indications are that the North Koreans do not (yet) have weapons that can survive re-entry or reach the continental US.  This reduces the likelihood that a nuclear device will be detonated within the US.  (It does nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering of any who live where a device is detonated, and I'm not trying to minimize that, but health and safety tips for that population are outside my expertise.  It also does not eliminate the possibility of a high-atmospheric detonation - see 5 below.)
2. Assuming devices (theirs or ours) are detonated in Asia, there will definitely be atmospheric fallout.  Depending on the scale of the bombing, this might be significantly worse that what was seen during WWII, or it might be similar.  However, the levels of radiation reaching the US would in any realistic scenario I can think of be not an immediate threat to life and health.
3. There are two families isotopes of significant impact: iodine and cesium.  
   A. For iodine, the largest risk to health will be in the first ~30 days due to the very short half life.  Iodine accumulates in the thyroid, and one of the common forms of protection is the consumption of potassium iodide (KI) tablets (nutritionally similar to salt substitute and possibly better for you) to ensure that non-radioactive iodine dominates in the bloodstream and the bulk of any radioactive iodine consumed is excreted again.  Since KI tablets have a nearly infinite shelf life (as long as they're kept dry) there isn't any good reason not to stock up on these. (Although as of today, you might very well find the sellers are suddenly hiking their prices.)
  B. For cesium (Cs137) the issue is that it has an extremely long half-life, and will be bioaccumulated (it is chemically interchangeable with sodium) and do damage over a long period.  In this case, the best recommendation I know of is eating as low as you can on the food chain, and local.  (Hah, see how this relates to Sustainable Tompkins!?)  The former means that you're not eating things that ate things that ate things with more and more Cs137 being concentrated all the way up the food chain.  The latter means you're getting food from a part of the world that is relatively far away from where we've assumed the detonation has occurred.  I'm not certain whether consuming additional salt (NaCl) or potassium iodide may be protective in this situation, but I might speculate that if the body has a surplus of sodium and potassium, it might excrete more cesium.
4. The recommendations above are mostly related to the fission products, which are largely similar to what was seen out of Chernobyl and Fukashima.  Our weapons are (most likely) combined fission/fusion devices, while it's less clear that this complex mechanism has been effectively developed by North Korea.  I don't have nearly as much information about what is typically produced by the fusion portion, other than neutrons.  Neutrons are a strictly local phenomenon - once they slow down enough, they will generally be absorbed into water, air, etc. and if they don't, they're not able to do any damage either (because that absorption is how they'd do damage to the body).  I wouldn't say that we can completely ignore this, but it's not likely to create the same kind of medium-term byproducts that fission will.
5. We can't completely discount the atmospheric or stratospheric detonation of a nuclear device.  This would also produce fallout which would be much more uniform and widespread - both of which mean less concentration in any one area.  But there's another immediate impact to consider here, and that is the EMP pulse that could disable (temporarily or permanently) any sufficiently nearby and unshielded electrical/electronic equipment within line-of-sight.  (If you saw the movie "The Day After" you'll recognize this concept.)  That could mean massive disruption to satellites - presumably the military ones are shielded, but likely most public communications, weather, etc. satellites are not explicitly protected because of the huge cost of sending any extra weight into space.  There could also be a significant impact on infrastructure in nearby Asian countries, so for example factories in South Korea or Japan might be shut down due to power grid outages, rather than due to nuclear radiation.
6. Outside of my area of expertise: I would expect massive disruptions to the financial markets if a nuclear device were actually detonated in warfare.  Also I would be almost surprised if this wasn't used as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and a power grab by the federal government/executive branch.  How you think makes sense to prepare for these I would leave to your own discretion, but I wouldn't ignore these risks - food is hard to buy without money or transportation.


On Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 9:28 AM, Patricia Haines <levelgreen2...@gmail.com> wrote:
Beyond saving seeds, if something dire actually happens, how do we manage? Health and safety tips? Not to be alarmist, just thinking ahead to what might be possible.

To dither or deliver/Decent deeds don't deceive
Decide to override/Poor programming
Gracious gratitude/Sprinkled and spread
Leading lives of love/And conscience instead
-- My Love

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