If A Nuclear Bomb Explodes Nearby, Here's Why You Should Never, Ever Get In A Car

 An illustration of a nuclear blast in a city. Shutterstock

Danielle Andrew 25 May 2017, 18:53

However, fallout is carried by high-altitude winds that are "often booking along at 100 miles per hour," he said, and "often not going in the same direction as the ground-level winds."

"So your ability to know where the fallout's gonna go, and outrun it, are — well, it's very unlikely," he said.

What you should do instead of driving

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The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Your best shot at survival after a nuclear disaster is to get into some sort of "robust structure" as quickly as possible and stay there, Buddemeier said. He's a fan of the mantra "go in, stay in, tune in."

"Get inside ... and get to the center of that building. If you happen to have access to below-ground areas, getting below ground is great," he said. "Stay in 12 to 24 hours."

The reason to wait is that levels of gamma and other radiation fall off exponentially after a nuclear blast as "hot" radioisotopes decay into more stable atoms and pose less of a danger. This slowly shrinks the dangerous fallout zone — the area where high-altitude winds have dropped fission products.

(Instead of staying put, however, a recent study also suggested that moving to a stronger shelter or basement may not be a bad idea if you had ducked into a flimsy one.)

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The dangerous fallout zone (dark purple) shrinks quickly, while the much less dangerous hot zone (faint purple) grows for about 24 hours before shrinking back. Bruce Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

 

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