Are you Prepared for a 'Jericho' type- event?

Chapter 4 - 'Thar she blows' - who put the lights out?

Chapter 3 Are You Prepared?
Chapter 2 Manyana
High Power Microwave - HPM/EMP
Appendices - Disaster plan
Chapter 4 - 'Thar she blows' - who put the lights out?

Ay Ay, sir! There she blows! there- there- thar she blows -bowes -bo-o-os!"



The title of this chapter originates from a quote in the famous 1851 classical novel Moby Dick, or, The Whale, by Herman Melville, where it refers to the eventual sighting of the famous and elusive white whale. Nowadays, the meaning is used on a number of diverse occasions, but mainly relating to something that eventually has been found or an event that everyone is waiting for – the build up and expectation after a tense period.


It is thus I use this expression in this context of a sudden event, but one that has been anticipated for some time – an event that everyone on this planet dreads to come about, yet all anticipate – that of a nuclear explosive incident.


This is an event we all hope and pray will never materialise, apart from the devastating physical and psychological effects that one detonation would produce, multiple detonations would undoubtedly witness the annihilation of our planet.




This subject area is a complex one, and the information imparted here is merely an overview, with some basic tips and ideas on how to cope should such an event occur.

To gain a deeper insight into such an event and for more detailed information, it is advisable to check the links and references provided in the bibliography section – the more you read and understand, the more prepared you will be.


There are few people alive today who have witnessed such tragic events, most notably those of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan in World War 2 – and it is with hand on heart that we hope will never witness again.

However, in our current troubled world one never knows when such an event could materialise, no matter whom or what instigated the initial ‘strike’. We must also consider the possibility of nuclear ‘accidents’ such as at Chernoble, Russia, in 1986, where even today the levels of radiation in the area are still incredibly high.


No matter what your take is on so called ‘terror’ events, self inflicted government and military strategies or accidents, the point is when the ‘Tha she blows’ event occurs, all quarrels, arguments and discussions are out of the proverbial window – it will all be academic –In addition, as we have seen from previous disasters, man made or natural, it will be a case of every man, woman and child for himself.


Thus it is important for you and your loved ones to know the basics and background of what type of nuclear detonation may be employed and importantly, how do we survive both in the short, and long term.


'Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds



Dr. Robert Oppenheimer – July 16th 1945



The effect of one single bomb detonation would be dependent on a number of points;


  • The explosive power of the bomb
  • Where it exploded – high in the air or ground level
  • Location of detonation – in a built up area or in open country



The explosive power of atomic bombs is usually measured kilotons or megatons. A "megaton" is the explosive power of one million tons of TNT, while a "kiloton" is the power of one thousand tons of TNT (tri-nitro-toluene, a high explosive)

To demonstrate the efficacy of such explosive power, the two bombs that were exploded over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were in the range ten to twenty kilotons.


The first nuclear bomb detonation test was carried out on July 16th 1945 at the Alamogordo Test Range, Jornada del Muerto desert, in New Mexico, yielding 20-22 kilotons. This was called the Trinity test, and was carried out under the directorship of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer – later known as ‘the father of the Atomic bomb’

It was after they had detonated the bomb that Oppenheimer quoted from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita, that now well known phrase….


'Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”



I mentioned above the effects of such a detonation depends on how, where and what explosive power is used. For example, for the maximum destruction a detonation at altitude would be the most effective, say at approximately 3000 metres.

The effects of such a detonation even with the explosive power of ‘only’ one megaton would be devastating. The first sign would be an intense flash of bright light, similar to lightening but immensely brighter. Immediately, there would be the accompanying massive pulse of heat radiation, so strong it would extend out 15 kilometres, burning anything combustible in its path.

Anything in a radius of 3 kilometres would have been evaporated.

Immediately, a fireball forms, rising briefly accompanied by a blinding light, which may be visible for at least 80 kilometres. Anyone who looked at this flash would certainly be blinded to some degree.

The area directly under the explosion is termed ‘Ground Zero’ – anyone up to 15 kilometres from this point would be affected by radiation burns – the nearer to Ground zero, the more severe the burns.

It is said that the actual detonation of such a blast in general, would consist of 50% as an actual blast, 35% as thermal radiation and 15% nuclear radiation (gamma) emitted within the first minute, and the remaining 10% as residual radiation. This residual radiation would be the main problem and danger experienced as fallout.

The damage sustained in such an explosion would also depend on prevailing weather conditions and the time of day. In mist or dense fog the effects would be hindered, due to the fact that the range of heat and light rays are reduced. However, if a detonation took place at night, where the pupils of the eyes are dilated the resulting flash would increase the probability of severe eye damage and blindness.

Immediately after the initial detonation, the blast would be felt, which in effect is akin to a major hurricane, except that apart from the outward wind, you also experience an inward blast to replace the air that was pushed out (pressure wave).

Within the radius of the first four or five kilometres the winds would be of tornado force – approximately 600 km per hour – and certainly anyone caught up within that radius would either be killed by the blast itself or by the accompanying debris.


At approximately eight to ten kilometres radius, it has been suggested that 50% of the population would be killed.

In addition, a one-megaton detonation causes a major firestorm that can cover up to over 100 kilometres.


Depending upon the altitude of an atmospheric detonation, an additional problem would be an Electro magnetic pulse –EMP, which would obliterate any electronic or electrical component, including such devices as heart pace makers. This is dealt with in more detail under the ‘E’ bomb section.


Radiation Fallout:


The ‘lucky’ ones will be the people who were vaporised immediately in the blast area; the unfortunate ones would be the longer-term survivors, who would slowly die through that terrible affliction, radiation poisoning. The initial symptoms include a tingling or itching sensation all over the body, within days or weeks’ blood begins to ooze painfully from every orifice on the body. Under these circumstances, death is a welcome release.

Those who ‘survive’ the initial gamma radiation, have the unfortunate experience of suffering the post effects such as leukaemia and other associated genetic related disorders.



One-megaton detonation at ground level:


While the affected area may be smaller than an air burst, a huge crater would be formed several hundred metres across and 50 – 80 metres deep, where the resulting excavated material would turn into radioactive dust. The larger particles would descend in the immediate area, while the smaller and finer particles would be borne on the air and carried downwind, ascending later.


The fallout would be lethal to anyone up to 100 kilometres downwind, unless they were suitably protected in a fallout shelter. It is therefore imperative that protection be sought immediately after the blast, especially if you are downwind of the explosion.

The areas affected would be uninhabitable for many months, even years, after detonation.


Radioactive fallout weakens rapidly in the first hours after an explosion this is called "decay". After seven or eight hours, fallout has lost about 90% of the strength it had one hour after the explosion. After two days it has lost 99%; in two weeks 99.9%. However the areas affected would be uninhabitable for many months, even years, after detonation


Now that we have some basic background under our belt, how do we protect ourselves and what do we do should the unthinkable occur?

Stay or evacuate?


This is one of the most common questions that everyone asks, and naturally there is no simple answer, it depends entirely on the type of event that has occurred, your personal circumstances and how adequately prepared you are.

So, let us look at the options and the associated advantages and disadvantages.


If you decided to pack up and leave, then you must have a high confidence that the risk of leaving home is worth it – e.g. you already have a well- prepared shelter or suitable location to move to. Once you have left your home, there is a strong possibility of no turning back, and there is a danger of being delayed and caught up in military road blocks and hoards of refugees etc.

Consider evacuation only if you have all the following points organised:

  • You already have friends or family in a country area with a prepared location
  • That the roads are free from restrictions and are clear
  • That you have enough supplies and fuel for the journey
  • If you are in a major city or near a military target
  • You can go immediately – get out quick before the rush.


So you decided to stay?


Below are a few basic hints and points of guidance, remember, it will depend on your personal circumstances, type pf explosion and where you are located and your personal.


Keep calm –


Think! This will be an event that is now out of your control, so you must keep a firm grip on the situation – to lose complete control and panic will cause serious harm to you and your family.

You must remember you are not going to die – we humans are resourceful creatures, use your resources and think rationally no matter how hard it may.

Think positively and get on with organising shelter, food, water and medical supplies.


Find shelter immediately:


Depending on your location at the time of the blast will depend on how you will go about seeking immediate shelter.

If you are caught out in the open – duck for cover in any of the following areas.

        Road/storm culverts

        Abandoned stone/brick buildings (basement areas)

        Please be aware of underground or low level parking areas, these may collapse

        In your car

        Cave or tunnel

        Dig a foxhole if you are able, at least 4 feet deep.

        Use any material to cover your face to minimise intake of any fallout



If you are at home:


  • If you have a basement/cellar, head for it and take only emergency supplies – cover doorway with blankets for the initial surge of the detonation
  • If you have no basement, improvise.
  • Use internal doors to prop up against walls or under stairs to make a temporary fallout shelter
  • The more material you have surrounding you the more effective


Example – 99% of radiation will be prevented by the following thickness of material


  • 16 inches of solid brick
  • 16 inches of hollow concrete blocks filled with mortar or sand
  • 2 feet of packed earth 3 feet if loose
  • 5 inches of steel
  • 3 inches of lead
  • 3 feet of water

It may be a good idea to store wooden ply panels (half inch or 12 mm thick) which have already been cut to fit your window openings, that can be instantly fitted should the need arise. If you do not have storage space or are unable to organise such additional items, there are a number of alternatives, such as internal doors, or cupboard doors, which will be useful in leaning against walls for an inner ‘sanctum’ etc.

You could also use a heavy table in an emergency, push the table to the corner of the room where you know that provides the most protection outside, such as built up soil or an extension like a garage etc.

Remember to keep to hand a supply of nails, screws, hammer and selection of screwdrivers in your tool kit.


An alternative to covering windows and doors etc. would be the use of heavy industrial plastic sheeting or tarpaulin (canvas etc), which can be taped on using duct tape or similar taping.

If you feel the need to be totally prepared and you have the time and the space, then there are various methods available in order to build your own outside fallout shelter.


One of the most easiest and popular is to dig either a long trench, at least 7 feet deep, four feet wide and 15 feet long – depending upon the number in your family. Once you have dug out the trench, bear in mind the safety aspect to ensure the sides do not collapse you can cover the open roof area with suitable timber poles. If you have constructed a four feet wide trench, then the poles should extend at least another four feet either side, thus you should use 12 feet poles and so on.

Once the poles have been laid across the gap and pushed tightly together, a layer of earth at least 18 inches should be laid on top. In addition it is a good idea to cover this earth with a plastic membrane, and more earth placed on top. This membrane will provide a waterproof cover, and when it rains, the water will run off the slope.


The entrance to the shelter should be as small as possible in order to avoid any incoming contamination, approximately 22 inches wide is a good average.

You can alter your shelter to suit by constructing banks of earth, especially at the sites of entrance. There are many ways to safely construct these shelters, thus it is advisable to refer to the section in the bibliography.


Should I invest in a radiation monitor?

Yet again using the example of our fictional ‘Jericho’ event, it appeared from the inset that the population of the town was not only ill prepared for such an event, but the authorities did not have adequate knowledge in radiation fallout effects and protection.

The problem with radiation is that you cannot see it, feel it or smell it, and the only method open to you for an ‘early warning’ system is to acquire a radiation detector. However, a major caveat must be borne in mind. There are no ground rules or advice from any authority on what is the best monitor to possess. To add insult to injury, there are many instruments on the market, many of which do not come up to scratch in accuracy or measuring high dosage levels – be warned!

On checking many instruments and asking advice from colleagues, it appears that the only instrument I would suggest at time of writing would be the ‘Nuke alert’. Designed by a team of Civil Defence experts, it has been tested, and in use, by military organisations and civil authorities.

Details of this instrument may be found in appendix A

 Preparation is always the key word, and it is without doubt that if the fictional town of Jericho had been prepared, such as implementing a well-rehearsed civil defence plan, and practised in emergency procedures, a more confident outcome would have been assured.

 In the chapter on ‘The challenges – Trials and Tribulations – Psychological trauma’ we look at the problems of coping with the after affects of such an incident.

  In Appendix B you will find a list of essential supplies to maintain and keep to hand for preparation under a number of disasters and emergencies. Please ensure you have read the lists and have obtained the items in readiness. You can always ‘recycle’ and use the items on the list as long as you remember to restock as necessary.

 In addition it is a good idea, as explained in the chapter Are you prepared? to delegate certain responsibilities and tasks to members of your family - which should be practised on ‘dry runs’ whenever feasible. When the crunch comes, not only will they will know exactly what to do their minds will be occupied, thus (temporarily at least) minimising the initial psychological drama.

Potassium Iodide – KI



The information below is offered as a general guide, please contact a medical specialist or your pharmacist if you decide to purchase Potassium iodide for the correct dosages and procedures.


Radioactive Iodine (Radioiodine) is a major radioisotope constituent of both nuclear power plant accidents and nuclear bomb explosions and can travel hundreds of miles on the winds.


Even very small amounts of inhaled or ingested radioiodine can cause grave damage, as it will always concentrate and be retained in the small space of the thyroid gland. Eventually a large radiation dose is seeped into the thyroid cells, and it is here that abnormalities are likely to result, such as loss of thyroid function, nodules in the thyroid, or thyroid cancer.


Taking either Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) before exposure will saturate the thyroid gland with safe stable iodine to such a situation that there is no room for further uptake of radioactive iodine. Once the thyroid is saturated, any additional iodine (radioactive or stable) that is later inhaled or ingested is quickly eliminated via the kidneys.



Radioactive Iodine is only produced by a fission or fusion weapon detonation, or in a Nuclear Power Plant as a by- product, while a ‘dirty bomb’ or Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) merely spreads around existing radioactive material. Therefore KI or KIO3 would likely not be required under these circumstances.


A salt of the elements potassium and iodine, taken orally even in very small quantities 1/2 hour to 1 day before radioactive iodines are swallowed or inhaled, prevents about 99% of the damage to the thyroid gland that otherwise would result.


Final tips:

If you must go out, cover your mouth and nose with a damp towel or cloth.

Use your stored food and drinking water.

Clean and cover any open wounds

Planning is THE key element – being prepared is half the battle – coping with an event of this nature is the other half!


 Additional reading and links



Useful reference:


Study details catastrophic impact of nuclear attack on U.S. cities
Writer: Sam Fahmy, 706/542-5361,
Contact: Cham Dallas, 706/542-5412,; William Bell, 706/542-6480,
Mar 20, 2000


Athens, Ga. – A new study by researchers at the Center for Mass Destruction Defense (CMADD) at the University of Georgia details the catastrophic impact a nuclear attack would have on American cities.


Among the study’s findings:

  • A 20-kiloton detonation would leave debris tens of feet thick in downtown areas with buildings 10-stories or higher. Roughly half of the population in downtown areas would be killed, mainly from collapsing buildings. Most of those surviving the initial blast in downtown areas would be exposed to a fatal dose of radiation.
  • While the main effects from a 20-kiloton explosion would be from the blast and the radiation it releases, a 550-kiloton explosion would create additional and substantial casualties from burns. Such an explosion would superheat the blast zone, causing buildings to spontaneously combust. Mass fires would consume cities, reaching out nearly four miles (6.3 km) in all directions from the detonation site.
  • A 550 kiloton detonation in New York would result in a fallout plume extending the length of Long Island, resulting in more than 5 million deaths.
  • A 550 kiloton detonation in Washington, D.C. would destroy hospitals in the District, but its fallout plume would also incapacitate hospitals in Baltimore, nearly 40 miles away.

What to do if a nuclear disaster is imminent – ‘"Print and Read Now!"

Biography of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer


Effects of a Nuclear Explosion 

Post effects

'Nuke Alert' radiation monitor and alarm



Regional nuclear war could devastate global climate:



“Even a small-scale, regional nuclear war could produce as many direct fatalities as all of World War II and disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, with environmental effects that could be devastating for everyone on Earth, university researchers have found.”



These powerful conclusions were presented December 11 2006 during a press conference and a special technical session at the annual meeting of American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The research also appeared in twin papers posted on Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions, an online journal.



“A cooling of several degrees would occur over large areas of North America and Eurasia, including most of the grain-growing regions," Robock said. "As in the case with earlier nuclear winter calculations, large climatic effects would occur in regions far removed from the target areas or the countries involved in the conflict."



Howard Middleton-Jones