This column appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette. To syndicate the national version, contact DrHubbard [at] TheSurvivalDoctor [dot] com.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, the North Koreans aired a video announcing their intention to nuke Colorado Springs. They even located us on a map. The only problem was they had us somewhere in the Deep South.

OK, no one really thinks they’ve achieved pinpoint accuracy yet, but it shows they’re trying. And who knows what other demented person has the same idea.

But this post is not designed to scare you. Far from it. It’s to educate, so you can properly prepare.
First, I have to ask, would you be prepared if a nuclear bomb hit nearby? Many of you would respond with, “Prepared for what? We’ll all be dead.” While that’s true if you get a direct hit, your chances of surviving if you’re a few miles away are pretty good—if you know what to do.

And for that, you need to know the types of dangers you would encounter:

1. The initial blast. This will destroy everything within about a 1- to 10-mile radius. If you’re far enough away to survive this, be sure to not look directly at the blast. It can blind you. And here’s where duck-and-cover can actually help. Within seconds to minutes of the blast, heat and two shockwaves will be coming your way.

2. Gamma radiation. It’s also during this time that you’ll be in danger of gamma exposure. This radiation goes through your body like X-rays, but stronger. You won’t feel it as it penetrates and kills your cells or damages your DNA. But gamma radiation travels only so far. It shoots out in parallel lines and runs into all sorts of obstacles along the way.

Dense materials partially or fully block it. For instance, a half-inch of lead blocks about half the rays. An inch blocks three-fourths. Equivalent material that works as well as 1/2 inch of lead are 1 inch of steel, 2 1/2 inches of concrete, or 3 1/2 inches of soil.

The lesson here? Get inside. A basement is best. Keep your head and body below ground level. If you don’t have a basement, get into an inner room. The gamma radiation will fade pretty quickly unless there’s another bomb.

3. Beta radiation. This is what’s commonly known as “fallout.” Particles fly up from the blast, attach to dust, and disperse in the wind. Any kind of shelter—even a car—will help protect you from these. Seal any cracks.

If you must go outside, cover everything, including your face, ears, nose—even protect your eyes. To limit exposure, come in as quickly as possible, but take off your outer clothes first. This alone decreases your contamination by 70 percent or more. Shower or wash off as soon as possible. Don’t forget washing your hair, flushing your eyes, and irrigating your ear canals and nostrils.

Food should be safe to eat if the particles are washed off. Water should be fit to drink if bottled or if a good water filter is used. The smaller the filter pores, the better.

Listen to the portable radio. It may be a couple of weeks, but there will come a time when it’s relatively safe to go outside.

Don’t get me wrong. A nuclear blast would be devastating. There would be all sorts of after effects, including a higher risk for future cancers and birth defects. But many would survive given the right knowledge and preparation.

Colorado Springs family doctor James Hubbard teaches how to survive when you can’t get to a doctor at, one of the most popular survival websites. Dr. Hubbard is the author of the best-selling e-books
The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds and The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns.