healthHealth and Medicine

How To Survive A Nuclear Attack, According To Chinese State Media


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockDec 6 2017, 20:41 UTC

The Castle Bravo test on March 1, 1954. United States Department of Energy/Public Domain.

Back in the the 20th century, governments would take to television or radio to tell the public how to deal with a nuclear bomb blast, often with the optimistic advice of "duck and cover". Well, it looks like those happy days are back.

A Chinese state-run newspaper in Jilin, a Chinese province bordering North Korea, has published a full-page article on tips for surviving a nuclear war, along with some colorful cartoons, Reuters reports. Unless you’ve been living under a Twitter-proof rock for the past few years, you’ll know this is in response to North Korea's advancing nuclear program and the headaches it's causing for South Korea, China, Japan, and the US.


The Jilin Daily article, titled “Knowledge About Nuclear Weapons and Protection", explains the numerous ways in which a nuclear blast could kill you: thermal radiation, blast waves, early-stage nuclear radiation, nuclear electromagnetic pulses, and radioactive pollution.

Presuming it’s a conventional nuke detonated on land, just under 50 percent of the warhead's energy will go towards creating a deadly fireball and blast waves. A similar amount of energy will then contribute towards intense thermal radiation. Together, this will create temperatures of 83.3 million degrees Celsius (150 million degrees Fahrenheit).

As IFLScience previously explained in our guide of “How To Survive A Nuclear Attack”, your chances of surviving the brunt of this is, obviously, zero. However, if you are far away from the blast, there’s a chance you’ll only have to deal with the pulse of ionizing radiation and residual radioactive pollution.


In this instance, the newspaper argues for hiding in a ditch or river. If that’s not feasible, they say you should cover as much of your face as possible. They also advise you remove any clothing you can, give your shoes a thorough scrub, have a deep shower, and clean your ears and nose out. It’s previously been shown that taking off your outer layers of clothing can remove up to 90 percent of the radioactive material on you. Despite what you might have heard, you also cannot hide in a car.


That's the science, at least. It appears the rest of the situation now lies in the hands of a few dozen humans on either side of the Pacific Ocean.

“Even if a war erupts on the peninsula, it is South Korea, Japan, and the US bases in the Asia-Pacific that will likely be priority targets for North Korea,” Global Times, another newspaper run by the Chinese government, said in an editorial about the Jilin Daily article. “There is a slim chance that the US or North Korea will intentionally launch military attacks at China as they have no grounds.”

“Meanwhile, as a powerful nuclear state, China will resolutely return like for like.”

Thankfully, they went on to concede: “China needs to brace for the worst scenario and nuclear-related publicity is needed. But we don't need to panic.“


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