Lessons Learned from Hawaii
So someone hits the wrong button in Hawaii, and everyone panics because they think they will die that day. Afterwards, I thought about all the “bomb drills” we used to do when I was a child. “Duck and cover.” Not much use in a nuclear situation. But, a nuclear attack does not mean instant death. With just a few minutes warning, you can greatly increase your chance of survival.
As you go through your day, play the “What if?” game a few times. Preparation is mainly a matter of thinking ahead. What if I were downtown? At a playground? In Hawaii? At home? At the office? At school? Do a family plan. What to do, and where to meet later on. Cell phones won’t work for a while, so you need to plan, especially if you have children. They should have a first, second, and third place to meet, so if one of the places is demolished, they can go to the next.
First of all, a nuclear blast has several dangers. Think volcano. For those of us on the Pacific Rim, we know about volcanoes. You have the danger from the blast, then the heat and wind, and finally the ash. With a nuclear attack, the point of impact would go down into the ground, so if you’re above or below ground, it won’t matter. But, even if you are close, you might survive if you are in a building, especially underground, since dirt is the best protection made. Think foxhole. So look for a spot underground, if you can.
Basements are better than ground floors, so if you’re visiting Hawaii, head for the underground shops, next the parking garages, although many of them have too big an opening, and the ash would blow in. Cars often have bottled drinking water in them. If in a high rise, get into the hallway or stairwell, some place with no windows. Second floor is best, first floor is worse (because of the ash). A subway or tunnel might provide a good shelter, if you are far enough away from the entrance. I would think a theater would make a great shelter for folks. Cars out in the open are death traps.
A child at school should go into the inner hallways, without windows or skylights, as the blast would break the glass. Get into a ball and cover the head and all skin. Shelter close to the wall.
At home, go into a basement bathroom if you have one, or any room without windows, or cover the windows. If you have no basement, go into the most inner room you have. You are thinking dirt and concrete, so you might find that your garage will be the best spot, unless the door blows off. Look around and plan ahead.
If a blast occurs, stay in place for at least a day, if possible. Don’t go out where the radioactive ash is falling. Let it fall and settle. Don’t go out if windy. Rain, good hard Seattle rain, will wash it away. I would think the firemen would use their hoses and wash off the streets. Ash washes off. Don’t breathe it in.
Be prepared. Have a kit ready in several places. One in your car, one in your home at least. The kit should have drinking water (which you might have to use to wash the ash off your skin), a transistor radio, flashlight and batteries, a whistle you can blow if trapped. The dogs will hear you. I would add a small hatchet. Maybe a First Aid kit and a knife. Matches. Any medicine that is vital, that you can’t do without. Baby formula. Coat, hat, gloves, scarf, maybe a mask, and a blanket you can use to keep off the ash. Expect help to come. If you shelter in a bathroom and have any warning at all, fill the tub or sink with water. You can drink it, or use it to wash off the ash. Remember, the back of a toilet bowl is a water reservoir with drinkable water.
There are many good survival sites on the web, with a list of all sorts of things you can pack in your “bug out bag.” Several also show how to survive a nuclear explosion.
My soldier hero in “A Christmas Snowstar” had a “bug out bag” he used to save the life of the heroine and her son. Like many mountain ranchers, he kept it well equipped, as he never knew when an emergency would call him out into the wilderness. In this case, he grabbed it as he took his snowmobile out to search the snow-covered Idaho mountains for his lost mare, and found my heroine and her son, along with his mare and new-born foal.