I’ll try to keep this post focused on the prepping and survival aspects of the topic, as opposed to the politics of the situation. Why should preppers focus some time and effort on preparing for the possibility of nuclear fallout? I would say there are three reasons. One is the possibility of another nuclear power plant disaster, like that of Fukushima or Chernobyl. A second possibility, hopefully remote, is that some terrorist group might get their hands on enough radioactive material for a dirty bomb. And then there is the ever-increasing possibility of a third scenario, where a rogue nation obtains and decides to use nuclear bombs.
North Korea is of particular concern, since they have already successfully tested a nuclear bomb. And they have an active medium- and long-range missile program. They cannot reach the U.S. yet (as far as we know). But they show no signs of abandoning their research and development of long-range missiles. In addition, they recently restarted a nuclear power plant that can be used to make and harvest plutonium for nukes. See this analysis at the Institute for Science and International Security.
Then, too, concern in the international community is growing over Iran’s nuclear program. The new President of Iran is often described as a “moderate”. But Iran’s nuclear program has only grown during his tenure. The latest IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report in August 2013 tells us that Iran has over 15,000 first-generation centrifuges for enriching uranium plus over 1,000 next-gen centrifuges.
Iran is on track to achieve a “critical capability” as of mid-2014, or perhaps sooner. Critical capability refers to Iran’s ability to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon before inspectors could detect the breakout.
Once Iran has enough centrifuges, they could make enough uranium for a bomb before IAEA inspectors would know about it, and therefore, before the U.S. or Israel could react to stop them.
So how can we prep for the possibility of radioactive fallout from a nuclear power plant disaster, dirty bomb, or, worst of all, a nuclear explosion?
First, you need a way to detect the radiation level. See my past post reviewing Inexpensive passive radiation detectors: RADSticker vs. RADTriage. Of the two, I’d recommend the RAD Triage, as it is larger and not very expensive. It is sold by one of our advertisers: RAD Triage at Ready Made Resources, with shipping included, so it would be a nice way to support this blog if you would buy from them, rather than from another source.
I have both the RAD sticker and the RAD Triage. But the sticker is just too small; it is literally the size of a postage stamp. The RAD Triage is used by workers in nuclear power plants to monitor radiation exposure. It’s the best of the least expensive passive radiation detectors.
If you have the desire and money, one of the better active radiation detectors is the Gamma Scout. See my review: Radiation Detectors: Gamma Scout Review. It’s expensive and complex to use, but it provides professional level radiation detection.
Second, you need a way to respond if there is radiation in your area.
Many preppers store potassium iodide or potassium iodate for protection from the uptake of radioactive iodine into the thyroid gland. This protection is most useful for children and young adults; the thyroid gland of adults over 40 is much less active. The pills flood the body with non-radioactive iodine, lessening the chance that radioactive iodine will be taken up and stored by the thyroid.
But radioactive fallout also contains radioactive strontium. The radioactive iodine decays quickly, and is gone within 80 days or so. The radioactive strontium has a much longer half-life, and it tends to be taken up by the bones and teeth. That is not what you want. So is there a pill we can use to protect ourselves from radioactive strontium? Yes, it turns out that a number of different over-the-counter antacids are recommended by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement (NCRP) to protect against radioactive strontium.
In my previous post, Antacids as a Treatment for Exposure to Nuclear Fallout, I discuss this topic. But for more details on radiation levels and treatments for exposure, see our advertiser’s book: Radiation Exposure Level and Effects available in Kindle format or in paperback.