The primary concern
Proximity to the blast is obviously the biggest problem when it comes to a nuclear explosion. During a nuclear explosion, matter vaporised in the resulting fireball is exposed to neutrons from the explosion, absorbs them, and becomes radioactive. When this material condenses in the rain, it forms dust and light sandy materials that resembles ground pumice. This is the fallout you’ll want to avoid.
The fallout emits alpha and beta particles, as well as gamma rays. Much of this highly radioactive material then falls to earth, subjecting anything within the line of sight to radiation, a significant hazard.
What is a Fallout Shelter
A fallout shelter is an enclosed space specially designed to protect occupants from radioactive debris or fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion. A fully featured shelter is designed to shield it’s occupants from harmful fallout until radioactivity has decayed to a safer level. The most common type of fallout shelter is a underground bunker style shelter. In most cases serious though, planning and design has gone into this type of structure.
A basic fallout shelter will consist of shields that reduce gamma ray exposure. Shields that reduce gamma ray intensity include lead, concrete or packed dirt. A good shelter uses many different layers of composite material usually layered.
Dry earth is a good thermal insulator, and over several weeks of habitation, a shelter will become too hot. A shelter will require some sort of effective cooling. Consideration will need to be made for things like filtering. Any exposure to fine dust is less hazardous than exposure to the gamma from the fallout outside the shelter.
While you can definitely build your own fallout shelter, it’s generally recommended that a specialised construction firm design, engineer and build one for you. While it might be a more expensive option, the last thing you want is to survive a nuclear blast only be killed by your own shelter.
Some firms that specialise are:
Things to keep in the shelter
A battery-powered radio is very helpful to get reports of fallout patterns and clearance. In many countries (such as the U.S.) civilian radio stations have emergency generators with enough fuel to operate for extended periods without commercial electricity (also made inert in blast EMP).
A note about this article:
This article is for information purposes only, I am not a engineer nor have I played one on TV. Always consult a professional before and large scale construction project.
Sources used in this article: