Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

Nuclear Explosion? How You Respond May Save You

YOU MAY HAVE ONLY MINUTES TO MAKE YOUR MOVE if ever you are near a nuclear explosion. How would you respond if you heard a nuclear missile is approaching your region?

While we should not have to think about such things, the recent happenings in Ukraine have me thinking about what I would do if I ever found myself in the vicinity of a nuclear explosion.

You may have 30 minutes or less to respond. What is your move? Nuclear explosions can result in immense damage. A nuclear weapon uses a nuclear reaction to create an explosion.

The nuclear device might be small enough to be carried by an individual, or a weapon can carry it. As you think about what you would do, remember to focus on physical damage from structures such as the windows around you. Then, you need to deal with radiation exposure.

Nuclear explosion: First, get inside (and stay there)

You may not have much warning, perhaps from a few to 15 or 20 minutes. Let’s look at some recommendations from the government of the United States:Nuclear ExplosionLearn how to prepare for, stay safe during, and be safe after a nuclear explosion. Nuclear explosions can cause…www.ready.gov.


The few hours following detonation is the most dangerous period, at least in terms of radiation exposure. You may have enough time to prevent significant exposure by following these essential guides:

Get into the nearest building to lower your radiation exposure, preferably in a structure made of brick or concrete. Head to the basement or middle of the building if you can.

The government recommends wearing a mask (for those over two years) if you are with individuals who are not members of your household. Socially distance by at least six feet from non-household members.

Take any contaminated clothes off and wipe or wash any unprotected skin if you were outside after the radiation fallout hit the scene.

Stay inside (reuniting with family members away from you at a later time). Keep your pets inside with you.

Hand sanitizer is useless against radiation. Avoid touching your face, and don’t use disinfectant wipes on your skin.

Are you outside when the explosion occurs? Take cover from any potential protecting structure. Lie face down to protect yourself from flying debris and heat. Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, or mouth. In a vehicle? Safely stop and duck down inside the vehicle.

Once the shock wave has passed, get inside some shelter within ten minutes. The fallout may arrive soon. The radiation dose drops over time, highest immediately after the blast.


You can eat or drink packaged food items inside a building. Avoid food or drink that was outdoors and uncovered. These substances may be contaminated.

Other hazards

Turn away/cover your eyes. The bright flash can result in temporary blindness lasting less than a minute.

Stay away from windows. The blast may blow the windows inwards.

Open your mouth to avoid a pressure wave that can damage your eardrums.

Photo by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) can damage electrically powered equipment and electronics. A hand-cranked or battery-powered radio can be invaluable.

Fallout is radioactive. You may see visible dirt and debris raining down from several miles up. This material can cause radiation sickness. Get inside as soon as possible.


Get ready by having adequate hand sanitizer, soap, disinfecting wipes, and general household cleaning supplies. Don’t forget medicines for you and your loved ones.

In addition, get some extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other needed equipment. Finally, don’t forget the things your pets will need.

While this is an unusual topic, the events in Ukraine have been concerning.


Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

Michael Hunter, MD
Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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