|Response to Nuclear Attack
The possible use of a nuclear weapon is the worst case scenario for terrorist attacks. Even a small fission weapon can create damage and casualites on the order of nothing we have witnessed to date. Your ability to respond to a nuclear attack will largely depend upon where you are in relation to the site of the attack. Though it is unlikely that anyone close to the location of the blast will survive, there are actions that you can take further from the point of detonation ('ground zero') to minimize your risk.
If warning is provided prior to an attack, seek shelter or get as far away as possible from the suspected location of the bomb. If public panic occurs, it may not be possible to evacuate by foot or car and your safest course of action may be to seek shelter. The best location to shelter from a possible nuclear detonation is a basement or other subgrade, concrete structure. In Florida, basements are rare and underground shelter may not be possible. If necessary, seek shelter in the interior lower-level of a strong, well-built building with minimal windows and openings. Though this is not exactly an 'ideal" shelter location, a strong building will provide better protection than remaining outdoors and fully exposed to direct blast pressure and thermal radiation.
If indoor shelter is not possible, seek refuge in a subgrade location, such as under a highway overpass or even a gulley alongside of the road.
If you are outdoors at the time of detonation, the first indication of an explosion may be a bright flash of light. This is due to the fact that light travels faster than the speed of sound or the expanding pressure wave. Immediately drop flat to the ground, facing the direction of the explosion, close your eyes, and cover your ears and head with your hands. This position will reduce your exposure to projected debris and the blast pressure wave.
Evacuate the area immediately. In the aftermath of a nuclear detonation, there will be a high degree of residual nuclear radiation and hazards due to debris, fire, and other conditions. Minimize your exposure by evacuating the area in an inland direction opposite the location of the blast. If debris and traffic congestion are minimal, evacuate the area by car. In a worst case scenario, evacuate by foot.
Watch for directions by authorities. Though it is generally best to evacuate directly away from the location of the blast, airborne radioactive particles can travel as a downwind plume creating a hazardous area extending miles from the location of the blast. Use caution to ensure that you do not evacuate in the direction of the predicted fallout.
This essay was prepared by Craig Gundry, CPS. Mr. Gundry is the Vice President of Special Projects for Critical Intervention Services and a security consultant with over 13 years experience in anti-terrorism and weapon of mass destruction issues. Mr. Gundry is also the author of the Bomb Countermeasures for Security Professionals CD-ROM and teaches anti-terrorism courses for Clearwater's S2 Safety & Intelligence Institute.