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...with the brief message from you urging them to "Print and Read Now!"

But, DO NOT waste any time trying to convince anybody of their need to do so!
Preparing for your own immediate family survival RIGHT NOW is your top priority!


This instructional guide is for American families preparing for imminent nuclear terrorism or nuclear attack and radioactive fallout.

Understandably, if you are reading this, you are anxious to take action right now, but to assure that what you do with your remaining time, before disaster strikes, is truly effective, you must first embrace a realistic 'Plan of Action'. Careful study of this action guide, here and now, will assure that you make the most of your available options, resources, and time, with a minimum of wasteful panic. Read it all the way through first, at least once, THEN TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION WITH CONFIDENCE... FAST!

#1 - STAY OR GO?

You have to decide FIRST if you need to be preparing to stay where you are, or to be attempting to evacuate. If you know already you will be staying at your own home or, at least, the immediate local area, go now to #2 below.

If instead considering evacuation, your decision has to come with a very high confidence that the greatly increased risk in attempting to get to a possibly safer area is really worth your family taking. You do not want to get stuck anywhere between your current location and hoped for destination, as there will probably be no getting back. If you fail to get to your destination, you will be exposed without shelter, likely in a dangerous situation with little effective law enforcement and perhaps amongst panicked hordes of refugees. Whatever supplies you have then may be severely limited to only what you can then carry on foot (and keep from being taken away from you) to continue on anywhere. However, IF you are in a big city or near a military target, AND you have relatives or friends in the country that you know are awaiting you, AND the roads between you and them are clear and the authorities are not yet restricting traffic, evacuation may be a viable option for a limited time. DO NOT attempt evacuation if all of the above is not clearly known or if the situation is deteriorating so quickly that it's unlikely it will be for long enough to make the complete trip. You do not want to get stuck and/or become a refugee being herded along with the panicked masses. If evacuation is truly viable and to be attempted, do not wait, GO NOW! IF you already have enough fuel to make it all the way and can do so with as many of the supplies listed on the last page as possible. Better to be two days too early in arriving there, rather than two hours too late and getting snagged mid-way someplace and exposing your family to a much worse fate than having stayed where you were. Because of the very real danger of getting caught in an evacuation stampede that stalls, most all families will be better served to stay and make the best of it wherever they currently are.


Because time is of the essence, you need to first delegate and assign to different adult family members specific tasks so they can all be accomplished at the same time. Your first priorities to assure your family survival are Shelter, Water, and Food/Supplies. While some are working on the water storage and shelter at home, others need to be acquiring, as much as possible, the food and supplies.


Because much of the food and supplies listed on the last page of this guide may quickly become unavailable and/or the streets and stores may become un-safe soon, you need to assign someone NOW to immediately go to the stores with that list! Get cash from the bank and ATM's first, but try and use credit cards at the stores, if at all possible, to preserve your cash.

#4 - WATER

With one or more adults now heading to the stores with the list on the last page, those remaining need to begin storing water IMMEDIATELY! Lack of clean water will devastate your family much quicker and more severely than any lack of food. Without water for both drinking and continued good sanitary practices in food preparation and for bathroom excursions (which will inevitably be much less sanitary than normal), debilitating sickness, or worse, will rampage through your household. All at a time with much less hope of any prompt medical attention when it does. That is a highly likely, but avoidable, disaster, ONLY IF you have enough water.

Every possible container needs to be filled with water RIGHT NOW! It will be very hard to have stored too much water. When the electricity/pumps go down or everybody in your community is doing the same thing, thus dropping the water pressure, that's it, what you've got is all you might be getting for a very long time. Empty pop bottles (1-3 liter) are ideal for water storage, also filling up the bathtub and washing machine. (Remember, later you'll have some in your hot water tank.) If you have any kiddie pools or old water beds, pull them out and fill them up, too. Anything and everything that'll hold water needs to be filled up quickly RIGHT NOW!

One of the shopping items listed on the last page is new garbage cans and liner bags which you'll also use for storing water. In the meantime, though, or if you can't get any more new cans, you could clean out an existing garbage can and scrub it throughout with bleach, then put in a new garbage bag liner and fill it with water. (Use two liners if they are very thin/flimsy.) Choose well where you fill up garbage cans with water because they won't easily be moved once full and many of them together could be too heavy for some upper floor locations. Ideally, they need to be very near where your shelter will be constructed and can actually add to its shielding properties, as you'll see below. BE ASSURED, YOU CANNOT STORE AND HAVE TOO MUCH WATER! Do not hesitate, fill up every possible container, RIGHT NOW!


This is the longest section in this guide, but not because there is any great mystery to understanding the simple principles of protecting your family from radioactive fallout. Rather, it's lengthy because of the good news that there are so many viable options and resources families could be utilizing with which to protect themselves from it, to choose from.

Radioactive fallout is the particulate matter that's produced by a nuclear explosion that's then carried high up into the air by the mushroom cloud. Then it drifts on the wind and most of it settles back to earth downwind of the explosion. The heaviest, most dangerous, and most noticeable fallout, will 'fall out' first and closest to ground zero. It could begin arriving in less than 30 minutes after an explosion, if close, while the smaller and lighter dust-like particles will typically be arriving many hours later, as they drift much further downwind, often for hundreds of miles.

Radioactive fallout 'dust' is dangerous because it is emitting penetrating radiation energy (like x-ray's) that goes right through most everything. Even if you manage not to inhale or ingest it, and keep it off your clothes, skin and hair, and none even gets inside your house, it's still extremely dangerous to the occupants inside from there on the outside. Radioactive fallout, outside on the ground and on the roof, emits penetrating gamma rays, much like x-rays, that go right through your house walls, roof, and floors, and can injure or kill you on the inside, even when there is no fallout dust at all that actually got inside.

Radioactive fallout, while it can be very dangerous initially, is losing its intensity very quickly because it's giving off so much energy. Radioactive fallout that, for instance, might initially be emitting gamma rays at a rate of 500 R/hr shortly after an explosion, which would be fatal if exposed to it for as little as an hour, weakens to only 1/10th as strong in as little as seven (7) hours later. And, three days later, it's only 1/100th as strong, or as deadly, as it was initially.

And, that's all really very good news, because our families can readily survive it, IF we get into a protected fallout shelter to safely wait it out as it becomes ever less dangerous with every passing hour.

What stops radiation, and thus shields your family, is simply putting mass between the two. Like police body armor stopping bullets, mass stops (absorbs) radiation. The thicker the mass, the more radiation it stops. Also, the denser (heavier) the mass used, the better it is with every inch more you can add to your shelter. Here's the thickness in inches needed to cut (stop/absorb) the radiation down to only 1/10th of its initial intensity for different materials; Steel 3.3", concrete 11", earth 16", water 24", wood 38", etc. But, any of them will do the job of shielding, it just takes more thickness of lighter wood, for example, than heavier earth, to absorb and stop the same amount of radiation.

Also, for every doubling of the distance between your family and the radiation outside, the radiation then is only 1/4th as intense or strong. (Same distancing protection principle here as going from being inches away from a hot stove or bright light, to then moving a little further away where it's then not nearly as hot or bright.)

Thus, what you want to maximize with your family fallout shelter is to both distance yourself from the fallout radiation 'dusting' outside on the ground and roof, while via effective sheltering inside, be blocking or shielding everybody there from as much of this penetrating radiation as possible while it continues to lose its intensity with every passing hour.

Fallout will accumulate and blow around everywhere, just like dust or light snow does, so it'll be both on the ground and on the roof of all structures, whether you can see it or not, and your shelter inside will thus require this mass shielding on all sides and the top, too. While a fallout shelter can be built anywhere, you need to see what your best options are at home or nearby locally. You want to maximize both the distance from where the fallout will likely be settling and the shielding material (mass) you already have there that could readily be incorporated to better surround and shield your fallout shelter.

If you do not have a basement available, you can still use the same techniques shown below in any above ground structure, but you'll need to use more mass to achieve the same level of shielding as what is seen for those basement shelters. You may want to explore utilizing other solid structures nearby, especially those with below ground spaces, such as commercial buildings, schools, churches, and other public buildings. Also, below ground parking garages, large and long culverts, tunnels, etc. Some of these may require permissions and/or the acquiring of additional materials to minimize any fallout drifting or blowing down into any lower levels that are open to the above air. Standalone buildings with a half-dozen or more floors, where there is not a concern of blast damage, can be very effective, when situating oneself up in the center of the middle floor. This is because of both the distance and the shielding all those multiple floors provide from the fallout way below on the ground and from what fallout is still far away up above on the roof.

Bottom Line, though, with all these options you might explore locally, is to find those with both the greatest mass and distance already in-place between the outside, where the fallout would settle, and the safer inside. If you have a basement at your own home, or at a nearby relatives or friends house that you can use, you'll likely be best served to fortify and utilize it, unless you have ready access to a better/deeper structure elsewhere that's still close by.

Amongst expedient last-minute basement sheltering options at home, even just simply pushing a heavy table or pool table (one you can get under) into the corner of a below ground basement, can be surprisingly effective. You want to utilize whichever corner down there has the grade (earth) highest up the wall on the other side of it. Or, if no heavy table is readily available, you can take internal doors off their hinges and lay them atop two supports to create your 'table'. You would then pile atop it and all around it (on the two exposed sides), any additional available mass such as books, wood, cordwood, bricks, sandbags, heavy furniture, full file cabinets, full water containers, your food stocks, and boxes and pillow cases full of anything heavy, like earth. Everything you could pile up and around it has mass and will help absorb and stop more radiation from penetrating inside, and the heavier the better.

Leave a small crawl-through entrance and more mass there that can be easily pulled in after you to seal it up. With two little 4" air spaces, one high at one end and one low at the other, then with a small piece of cardboard you can help fan fresh air in if the natural rising warmer air convection current needs an assist moving the air along.

This incoming air won't need to be filtered if the basement has been reasonably sealed up, however the windows and other openings will require some solid mass coverage to assure they both stay sealed and to provide additional shielding protection for the basement. More details on this in the next (#6) section.

With more time, lumber, blocks, and carpentry/masonry skills, you could even construct a more formal fallout shelter, such as the lean-to shown to the right, but you would want to pile up much more mass than what little is shown there...

A basement combined with hunkering down under that sturdy table or lean-to there, packed and surrounded by extra mass, can mean that if there was an initial 500 R/hr radiation intensity outside (which, again, would be enough to give you a lethal dose in an hour exposed to it) you would have under that table only 2.5 - 25 R/hr. (And, remember, with every passing hour after the explosion that fallout would be decaying and quickly losing its energy to where, 7 hours later, it would only be 1/10th of its initial deadly intensity.)

 basement fallout shelter

Adding even more mass on the floor above your chosen basement corner, and outside against the walls opposite your shelter, can dramatically add even more shielding protection. Every inch thicker adds up to more effective life-saving radiation shielding.

As cramped as that crawl space might appear, you would have achieved vital shielding, by simply moving some mass into place, that could clearly be the difference between exposure to a lethal dose of radioactive fallout or, instead, survival for your family.

The majority of people requiring any sheltering at all will be many miles away downwind, and they will not have to stay sheltered for weeks on end. In fact, most people will only need to stay full-time sheltered for only the first couple or three days before they will start coming out briefly to attend to quick essential chores. Then, later, they would begin spending ever more time out of the shelter daily and eventually only coming back in to sleep there at night. You and your family can easily endure that, as miserable as it might seem now, especially compared to the alternative.

And, it's really all too easy here to build your family fallout shelter,
and to do so very effectively, not to get it done... RIGHT NOW!


If you've accomplished the above; securing your supplies, storing water, and building your family fallout shelter, CONGRATULATIONS! You have now succeeded in improving the odds of survival for your family easily 100-fold, or more! Now, you need only to expand your knowledge and fine-tune the tactics that will make the most of your viable family survival strategy here. The following will begin to help you to do so...

  • Getting government crisis updates is important, but adhering to their instructions blindly may not always be prudent. The government will never instruct the masses to do anything that would be impossible for everybody to do. For instance, clearly the best course of action if nukes are likely coming to NYC or Washington, DC or other major cities soon, is to get out of those cities quickly. But, the government will be slow, if ever, to announce and tell everybody to evacuate, cause they know everybody can't get out at the same time, or in-time, nor would there be someplace for everybody to go to. (Some will insist they won't even tell anybody outside of the government when and where they know it's very likely to happen soon, either. Like in the movie 'Sum of All Fears', when they got the President out of the SuperBowl, but didn't bother to try and announce to all in the crowded stadium to evacuate, too.) So, they'll likely be telling you instead to be calm and stay put, and watch the game, which could ultimately kill your family. This is where, though, individual families on their own initiative can successfully get out to safety, as long as they are not awaiting the government edict to tell them to do so first, which likely will never come. The same goes for the shopping list below in this guide, the government is not going to announce to everybody, as we do here, to rush down to your local stores to beat the inevitable panic, because if they did that, they'd help create that panic or make it even much worse. But, if you want to assure you have food and supplies for your own family, that's exactly what you need to do, and without awaiting any government instructions telling you to hurry and 'beat the rush' first. You are responsible for your own family, not the government, so you must decide for yourself, at all times and without exception, what the best course of action is for your personal family survival.

  • Filtering the air coming into your shelter there in the basement won't be required. Air does not become radioactive, it can only carry along, for awhile, fallout dust in the air outside that wants to 'fallout' and settle down and will, if there is not wind kicking it back up. If your basement is reasonably snug then there won't be any wind blowing through it and carrying fallout dust inside. Simply sealing any basement windows, and other openings anywhere in the basement, assures that accumulation of significant fallout inside is very unlikely. However, to improve both the radiation shielding inside the basement, and to protect windows from being broken and letting fallout blow in, you should cover them all up. First, with wood, and then with sandbags or solid masonry blocks or earth, etc., at least on the outside, but inside, too, if possible, for the extra shielding that will also provide.

  • Regarding fallout contamination, you'll need to be able to cover up items you want to protect outside and rinse off the fallout dust later when it's safe to come out and do so. For instance, if you have a vegetable gardening spot, you might try covering much of it with plastic or tarp and weighting them down. Outside equipment, too, should be covered up, if possible. Any food or water stored in sealed containers that can have the fallout dust rinsed off later will then be safe to use, because as long as you don't get the fallout dust mixed into it, then whatever radiation penetrated the food/water does not harm it.

  • If without sufficient time to acquire radiological instruments of your own, like Geiger counters and dosimeters, you'll need to be extra sure that your portable radios function properly from inside your shelter and that you have plenty of fresh batteries in stock for them. Listening for official guidance about the radiation threat levels in your particular area will be the only way you'll know when it's becoming safe again to venture out. It might be the only way you'll know when you needed to take your initial maximum protective action. When not in use, they should not be attached to any outside antenna or even have their own antenna extended. And, they should be stored in a metal container or at least wrapped in aluminum foil to further minimize the potential of EMP ruining the electronics. Having back-up radios, for this reason and others, would be very prudent. With extra radios, you can have one always tuned to the closest likely target city and, if it suddenly goes off the air, that could be your first indication of the start of hostilities.

  • If close to a target, though, your first indication of a nuclear detonation may be with its characteristic blinding bright flash. The first effects you may have to deal with before radioactive fallout arrives, depending on your proximity to it, are blast and thermal energy. Promptly employing the old "Duck & Cover" strategy will save many from avoidable flying debris injuries and minimize thermal burns. For those up really very close, they'll have tornado strength wind destruction descending upon them, and will need to quickly dive behind any solid object or into any available depression. A 500 KT (kiloton) blast, 2.2 miles away, will be arriving about 8 seconds after the detonation flash with about a 295 mph wind blast that'll last about three seconds. An even larger 1 MT (megaton) blast, but 5 miles away, would arrive in about 20 seconds. Hopefully, you are not near any target area 'ground zero' and will only, like the vast majority, have to deal with fallout later.

  • When fallout is first anticipated, even though it has not yet arrived, have everybody begin wearing their dust protector filter masks. Everyone should commence taking their Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) tablets for thyroid protection against cancer causing radioactive iodine, a major constituent of nuclear weapons explosions. Or, if no tablets available, you can topically (on the skin) apply an iodine solution for a similar protective effect. (WARNING: Iodine solutions are NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) For adults, paint 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm, ideally at least 2 hours prior to possible exposure. For children 3 to 18, but under 150 pounds, only half that amount painted on daily, or 4 ml. For children under 3 but older than a month, half again, or 2 ml. For newborns to 1 month old, half it again, or just 1 ml. If your iodine is stronger than 2%, reduce the dosage accordingly. Absorption through the skin is not as reliable a dosing method as using the tablets, but tests show that it will still be very effective for most. Do not use if allergic to iodine. If at all possible, inquire of your doctor NOW if there is any reason why anybody in your household should not use iodine in a future nuclear emergency, just to be sure.

  • When you know that the time to take protective action is approaching, turn off all the utilities into the house, check that everything is sealed up and locked down, and head for the shelter. Your basement should already be very well sealed against fallout drifting inside. Now, you'll need to seal around the last door you use to enter with duct tape all around the edges.

  • You don't need to risk fire, burns, and asphyxiation trying to cook anything in the cramped shelter space, if you have pre-positioned enough canned goods, can opener, and other non-perishable foods, that are ready-to-eat without preparation. More food, along with water, can be located right outside your crawl space entrance that you can pull in quickly as needed when safe to do so.

  • For lighting needs within the shelter, ideally, you want to have many small LED flashlights or LED head-lamps to stretch your battery life. (Try not to have to use candles in there, if at all possible.) Bring in some books for yourself and games for the children. Maybe throw a small/thin mattress in there, some cushions, blankets, pillows, etc.

  • Toilet use will be via the 5 gallon bucket with a seat borrowed from one of the house bathrooms, if you did not purchase a separate one. Garbage bag liners, hopefully sized for it, need to always be used and a full-size and bag lined garbage can needs to be positioned very close to the shelter entrance for depositing these in when safe to do so quickly. Hanging any sheet or blanket will help provide a little privacy as shelter occupants take their turn. The toilet needs to have its new 'deposits' sealed up tight with the plastic liner after each use. Use a very secure top on the bucket and position it near the wall with the outgoing upper air vent.

  • Pets, and what to do about them, is a tough call. Letting dogs run free is not a humane option, both for their potential to die a miserable death from radiation exposure outside and/or to be a danger to others, especially if they get diseased and/or run in the inevitable packs of multitudes of other abandoned pets. Caring for them is ideal, if truly realistic and not a drain on limited resources, while 'putting them down' eventually might become a painful, but necessary reality.

  • Boiling or bleach water treatments will be used for cleaning your stored water later for drinking. (This is for killing bacteria, not for radiation contamination, which is never a concern for any stored and covered water containers or even sealed food.) Tap water recently put into clean containers won't likely need to be purified before using. To purify questionable water, bring it to a roiling boil and keep it there for 10 minutes at least. If you don't have the fuel to boil it, you can kill the bacteria by mixing in a good quality household bleach at the rate of 10 drops per gallon, and letting it sit for at least 1/2 an hour. The bleach should be at least 5.25% pure, like Chlorox, but be sure it has no additives such as soap or fragrance. You can later get rid of the flat taste from boiling, or some of the chlorine taste when using bleach, by pouring it from one container to another several times.

  • There's much more that can be learned to both better understand what you are up against here and how best to help your family survive and endure it. While time permits, and if the internet is still up & running, and you have somebody available, like a teenager who is adept at using it, task them with getting and printing out additional prep information.

    Get and print out the plans for the home-makeable KFM (Kearny Fallout Meter) that shows how to build at home, from materials commonly found there, an effective fallout radiation meter. Then, if still too busy, have your teenager go to work collecting the required components and tools. Then it could even be assembled later in the shelter, if you had to. BTW, if you can build one KFM from scratch, you can build dozens! Get the free plans for the KFM here...

    Additionally, for readily understandable and practical information on nuclear bomb blast, thermal, and radiation effects, EMP, radioactive fallout, radiation health effects, nuclear survivability and myth-busting facts, along with numerous DIY fallout sheltering tips, print out all three parts of this web site below, which is where this action guide originated from...

    If there is enough time to order, and be shipped, your own radiation detection and monitoring instruments, potassium iodide tablets, KFM kits, Nuclear Survival handbooks, etc., you should check first if any inventory is even still available here at these links...

    If at all possible, go to this live prep forum, as they will be covering all the latest crisis news, interpreting the government pronouncements, and discussing the best practical survival preparations families can still do...


    When the TV or radio program switches abruptly to an terse announcer saying: "We Interrupt This Program For This Special Bulletin!", and your kids look up to you questioning with wide-eyes and eager for assurances, know then that you are confidently ready for them with a Plan of Action! That's what it's all about!

    "A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them;
    the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."
    - Proverbs 22:3


If stores are still at all stocked, and safe to go to, try to buy as many of the following items as possible... IMMEDIATELY! There are no quantities listed here on the food items below as family size varies and because, as the emergency and panic widens, many items will then become quickly sold-out and you'll then need to try to get more of what does still remain on the shelves. At a minimum you should be looking at two weeks of provisions, but much better to be aiming for two months or more, best as you can. The reality is, if/when we get nuked here, it's going to be a very long time before anything is ever 'normal' here again, especially at any grocery stores. (Talk to some of the Florida hurricane victims for a clue as to how miserable and long the disruptions can go on, and then remind yourself how localized that was, and with the rest of the country just fine and supposedly able to help out, and they still suffered there for weeks on end.) Nobody can begin to imagine just how bad the suffering will be, and for how long it could go on here, when nukes have gone off... and in multiple locations!

Get cash from the bank and ATM's first, but try and use credit cards at the stores, if at all possible, to preserve your cash. If successful with acquiring the items on this list, and if time, available supplies, and money allow, you might then get some more of those non-perishables of what everybody in your family especially likes or even a little pet food. Then you might explore acquiring non-food bartering items that won't then be depriving anyone else of short food supplies.

The top listed and UNDERLINED food items below are primarily for use while in the shelter. They are mostly ready-to-eat that requires no cooking or preparation, just a can opener at the most. (The iodine is included here because of its importance for its thyroid-blocking topical use detailed above, but it's NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) The other foods listed below there are better cost/nutrition staples for later use during the extended recovery period.

Go Forth and Acquire It All Now! It's better to risk being a little early when securing your families essential food and supplies, rather than a few hours too late...

Canned goods of all kinds (pasta, soups, chili, corn, beans, vegetables, fruit, etc.)
Ready-to-eat foods of all kinds (pop-tarts, raisins, granola/energy/protein bars, snack-paks, etc.)
Cans of tuna fish and/or SPAM type meats
Large containers of peanut butter
Assorted drink mix flavorings, if children
Iodine solution (16 ounces)

Multiple big boxes of dried milk (Could include/use some inside shelter, too.)
Multiple big boxes of pancake and biscuit mix & some syrup
Largest bags of rice
Largest bags of beans
Largest bags of flour
Largest bags quick oats and other grains
Largest bags of macaroni
Large bag of sugar
Large jar of honey
Large 2 gallons or more of cooking oil
Baking powder & baking soda & spice assortment pack
Quality manual can opener, 2 if you don't already have one at home.
Kitchen matches and disposable lighters
New garbage cans and lots of garbage bags (water storage & waste storage)
5 gallon buckets and garbage bags sized for them (toilet)
Toilet seat for the bucket
Toilet paper
Sanitary napkins and diapers, if needed
Flashlights (ideally LED) and Portable Radios, if you don't already have them
Plenty more batteries, at least three sets, for each of the above
Bottled water (especially if home supplies not secured yet)
Baby wipes (saves water for personal hygiene use)
Bleach (5.25%, without fragrance or soap additives)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Aspirin/Tylenol/Motrin, etc.
Pepto Bismol
Prescription drugs filled, and extra if possible
First aid kit
Fire extinguisher
Paper or plastic plates/cups/utensils
Dust mask filter protectors
Water filter and all other camping supplies, such as Coleman cook
stove and fuel, ammo, etc., if any sporting goods stocks still available.
And, of course, rolls of plastic sheeting and duct tape!

Anyone and everyone is invited and free to copy, post, print, and distribute this 'WHAT TO DO WITH LESS THAN 3 DAYS TO A NUCLEAR DISASTER!' guide anywhere, as long as they do so freely and not charge anything for it. You need only assure that it is not altered or edited and is always complete, including this notice here. To contact the author with comments and suggestions, e-mail: Shane Connor at This guide will be continually 'fine-tuned', so before distributing it, download it fresh again from
Last Update: 4/16/2004