Stealth fighter planes have been flying over my Japanese apartment all day. This activity is coming straight after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb many times bigger than the one that took out Hiroshima. It’s coming a week after they sent a missile straight over the northern island of Hokkaido. This is, to say the least, quite worrying.
What’s even more worrying is how little I knew about how to act in the eventuality of a nuclear strike. If you grew up in the sixties and seventies, you no doubt remember the public service announcements prompted by Cold War anxiety. But I’m a child of the nineties and today, with a very real stand-off between the US and North Korea, I have noticed a severe lack of actionable advice in case of a nuclear strike.
As I live in Japan, I decided to educate myself. How does one protect themselves from a nuclear strike?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe nuclear war is inevitable. But I do believe knowledge is power and I’d rather feel capable than crippled with ignorance if shit goes down.
The first thing we have to know is what to put in our emergency kits and how to prepare ahead of time. We’ll talk about how to act when the bomb goes off and what to do in another forthcoming article. But for now let’s focus on this because it’s one of the most important aspects of this whole crazy shindig.
So here’s how to prepare an emergency kit just in case Asian Cartman pulls the trigger.
How To Prepare For A Nuclear Attack (Emergency Survival Kit Advice)
You need to prepare an emergency survival kit in case shit gets nuclear.
You can be prepared and not be paranoid at the same time.
For example, you don’t need to drop hundreds of thousands on a nuclear bunker. That’s overkill. Even the leading expert in nuclear preparedness and biological warfare David L. Jones says he wouldn’t build a bunker.
A basement or a high-rise apartment building made of concrete is going to give you 90% of the safety effects of a nuclear bunker in case of fallout anyway.
There are better things to spend your money on than a bunker.
Also, before I get into the kit, it’s worth talking a bit about the difference between being prepared and being paranoid. Seeing as one of my most popular articles of all time (12 Habits That Might Just Save Your Life) resulted in many accusations of paranoia when I posted it on Quora, I think it’s worth clearing this up before we get into the details.
You are paranoid if…
- You live in a rural town in New Zealand but you are preparing for the zombie apocalypse by stocking up 100 different guns and a thousand of rounds of ammo.
- You live in Arkansas and you have made a fortified bunker with a stockpile of grenades for when the US government sells your country to the UN and attempts to enslave you.
- You live in Iceland and, instead of spending you salary on keeping your kids warm and fed, you fortify your house in case of terrorist attacks.
You are prepared if…
- You live in Tokyo and you put together an earthquake emergency kit that also doubles as an emergency kit in case of nuclear attack.
- You live in Texas and you learn and teach your family first aid in case of hurricanes.
- You have an emergency kit tailored to your unique environment that you can afford. You already have savings in the bank and you are stocking the high-value items rather than blowing money on cool end-of-the-world weapons and gadgets.
As you’ll see, I’m trying to fall into the latter category.
I’m not letting fear dictate my day-to-day life. But I’m prepared just in case something bad happens.
This guide is aimed primarily at people living in Japan because that’s what I researched. That means this kit will be good if you live in an environment with a high chance of earthquakes and a slim but real chance of nuclear attack. It’s up to you to assess what you need for your environment.
Another quick note: none of this will do you a damn bit of good if you’re right in the blast zone. You’ll be vaporised immediately. This is for the eventuality in which you are outside the blast zone and you need to stay inside because fallout is blowing your way.
If you want to play a sadistic game and see whether your location would be in the blast zone should a nuke drop on your nearest city, play around with this nuke map.
Now let’s get into the kit.
Nuclear Attack Emergency Survival Kit
Let’s keep it simple and see what must-have items should be in our nuclear emergency survival kit.
- Emergency food supply: For earthquakes, you want at least 72 hours worth of food. For nuclear attack, you want 2 weeks worth of food. That’s how long you might need to bunker down until the fallout decreases to a safe enough level to go outside. If you’re in America, I recommend getting supplies from DayOne Gear. Go through that link because it will give you a 10% off coupon until December 1st. I recommend the legacy emergency food buckets because they are packed with calories – pick the size depending on the length of time you want to stock up for and how many people you have to supply for. I also recommend the Guardian 3,600 calorie food bars. They’re easy to store, taste like cookies, have a 5-year shelf-life, and are packed with calories. Exactly what you need if you’re trapped inside your house for a while. In addition to some big calorie blocks, you’ll want to stock up some non-perishable tinned goods (make sure you have a manual can opener): canned tuna, canned beans, canned fruit and veg, peanut butter, and rice pouches. I also have slabs of chocolate because they can provide a quick boost of carbohydrates and make you feel a little happier if you’re scared or worried.
- Emergency water supply: You want 1 gallon of water for each day and each person (and each pet). You might even want to bump this up if you live in a hot climate. Remember this water isn’t just for drinking. It also needs to be used for sanitation and cleaning. So if you’re planning an earthquake emergency water supply for 2 people and 3 days, get 6-7 gallons of water. If you’re stocking up in case of nuclear attack and you have a family of 4, put 56-60 gallons of water in your supply. You get the picture. Sounds like it will take up a lot of space but DayOne has a bunch of easy water storage on top of all their other goodies. Check out the Legacy brand. You could also get the Water Brick, which preppers swear by.
- Emergency first aid kit: DayOne already has a bunch of affordable first aid kits with everything you need stocked too. But if you want to build your own, I’d advise you stock it with sterile gauze pads of varying sizes, adhesive tape and bandages, plasters (or band-aids), antiseptic wipes, antiseptic soap, splints, antibiotic creams and ointments, tweezers, painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol (Tylenol and Advil) and any prescription medication you and your family need, scissors, safety pins, and non-latex gloves. You might want to add more to your kit but those are the basics. In addition to that stuff, have a first aid manual and know basic first aid moves like CPR and how to treat cuts, sprains, broken bones, and shock
- Hand-crank emergency radio: If shit gets nuclear, you might not be able to use your cellphone and electricity may go out. You’re going to still need to get information from the outside world though so that’s why you need a hand-crank radio. This one has good reviews but, at the time of writing, it’s sold out for the next few weeks. That should tell you something. One, it’s good. And two, people see the need for this thing.
- Batteries: both small ones and rechargeable amps.
- Torch/flashlight: This tactical one is good because it’s compact and easily portable so it’s worth getting a few depending on how many family members you have. It’s also worth heading down to your local hardware store and picking up a few bigger ones.
- Whistle: If you’re trapped, it might take a while before help arrives and you can tired your voice out from shouting. A whistle is perfect for attracting attention in this situation. This one is the loudest outdoor emergency whistle.
- Grab bag: Get a bag for each family member. This should be something you can easily grab and take quickly in an emergency. It should already be stocked with a flashlight, whistle, blocks of food, some water, and first aid supplies. This is just in case you need to make a break for it and get out of your house quickly.
- Recreational materials: Being hunkered down for 2 weeks will get boring. Especially without the boob tube, Angry Birds, or dancing cat videos to entertain you. Make sure your emergency supplies are also stocked with some magazines or books to keep you occupied.
Now let’s look at stuff you probably don’t need:
- A bunker: As already mentioned, nuclear survival expert David L. Jones wouldn’t buy a bunker. It’s not worth the cost because it keeps you tied to one location and you can have good enough protection in a basement or high rise (so long as you’re not right in the center of the action).
- Potassium iodine: I know you’ve seen the movies where potassium iodine is paraded as some miracle cure for radiation poisoning but, in reality, it doesn’t do much. It only counteracts one very small kind of radiation that won’t even account for 1% of your problems. Have it on hand if you want. But don’t believe the hype about it being a radiation cure. You’ll get way more mileage out of a well-stocked first aid kit. If you want them though, you can get them here.
- Hazmat radiation suit: This would be cool if you’re doing a Breaking Bad themed Halloween but it’s not a necessity, believe it or not, in case of nuclear attack. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have one on hand but it’s so damn pricy that it doesn’t factor into the emergency supplies for me. But if you can drop a grand-and-a-half per suit, get this one. Note that there aren’t many left in stock though. I guess some rich motherfuckers are stocking up.
Now you know the basics, I’d recommend stocking up in a fashion that suits your current environment and situation.
If you’ve got the cash and you live in a volatile area, I’d splurge and get everything at once. If you’re strapped for cash or your area is relatively safe, adding stuff when you can is perfectly fine. You could make it a habit to add a new piece of equipment to your emergency supply each month (that’s what I do).
We’ll talk soon about what to do if a nuke does hit nearby. Fingers crossed my neighbours don’t completely lose their minds before then.