If there were a nuclear explosion, the first thing our brain would glimpse would make us think that the Sun itself has exploded. Later, a mushroom-shaped smoke would form, and a great roar would be heard in the area. In the hypothetical case of surviving this atomic bomb, it can be concluded that our organism has withstood an explosion whose energy is equivalent to 10 kilotons of TNT – 66% of the energy released in the atomic bombs in Japan in 1945 -.
Although it sounds utopian and even exaggerated, there are currently 14,900 nuclear weapons on the entire planet, and those that reach the level of kilotons are the most proliferative in recent times.
However, if one of these weapons explodes, you should never drive away from the stageaccording to physics and radiation expert Brooke Buddemeier of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States.
Cars vs Nuclear Bombs: Error
According to Buddemeier, avoiding using vehicles in the middle of a nuclear explosion would be advisable as the streets would be full of erratic drivers, miscellaneous accidents and debris. Likewise, and apart from this, he affirms that there is an even more important reason: the fallout.
According to this expert, fallout is a complex mixture of fission products -radioisotopes- created by the division of atoms after the nuclear explosion. Many of these products decay rapidly and emit gamma radiation, an invisible and highly energetic form of light.
Exposure to an excess of this type of radiation in a short space of time can irreparably damage the cells of the human body, causing the so-called acute radiation syndrome. Just several centimeters of soil or lead can protect the human body from such a situation.
During a 10 kiloton explosion, fission products would mix with dirt and debris from the atmosphere, in addition to mixing with sand, earth, cement, metal and any other material close to the explosion area – an area that can cover up to 8 km radius in the air.
The heavier particles would fall quickly, while the lighter ones can be carried very far by air currents.
What to do in the event of a nuclear explosion
According to Buddemeier, current vehicles would not provide more protection than sitting on a road in the open air, since their materials are very light. However, most people think that fleeing by car is the first and safest option.
The safest option, according to Buddemeier, is find a sturdy structure as quickly as possible and hide inside it: the center of a building with thick walls, or the basement of any building, remaining under cover between 12 and 24 hours.
The reason you have to wait so long is that gamma radiation levels drop exponentially after the nuclear explosion, but this happens slowly where the wind has carried particles at high altitudes.
A recent study suggested that the best option would not be to seek refuge in the same place of the explosionInstead, it would be convenient to find a basement or similar at least 5-6 km away from the point of origin of the explosion.
Finally, Buddemeier points out that there is a exception to car use: If we are in a garage next to the vehicle, the surrounding concrete could act as a shield. In this case, staying inside the vehicle with the radio on would be a good option.