By now we all know about the Hawaii false “Inbound Missile” alert that took place a while back. I keep hearing the BS from the talking heads about “One guy pushed the wrong button.”, and “It was a complete accident.”, and none of use that know better believe anything they are saying. Brushbeater spoke about it briefly in this post. Here’s the thing to ponder, what if it was real? I’m not getting wrapped up in the political, misdirection BS being espoused, but what would you do if it was real? Where would you go?

Do you have the slightest clue how you would react, and is your situational awareness and training enough that you would immediately know where relative safety is (it honestly depends how close you are to the blast). Keep in mind that this post is about protecting yourself from the initial blast, not the fallout. Fallout/Radiation protective measures have been talked about here.

Here are three “area dependent” scenarios you might want to consider planning for.

  1. You are at home.
  2. You are driving through or at work in town.
  3. You are driving on the Interstate or in a remote area.

Before we discuss where you are, let’s discuss where the primary targets in your area might be. Two primary targets for a nuke would be a military base, or a large city. Once you’ve figured out where the target for the nuke might be in your area, you can then make an assessment of where you might want to position yourself in the area you have selected as an improvised blast shelter. This assessment would dictate that if you are in a building, you’d want to be on the side furthest from the blast, preferably in a basement. It also dictates that if you are in something like an end to end open drainage, the drainage needs to be perpendicular, rather than parallel to the most likely direction of the blast’s path.

1. You are at home. OK, do you have a basement, if so, are all sides covered by dirt (less chance of blast damage)? Protection in this situation is somewhat simple. Get in your basement, go to the side furthest from the likely target, and if possible, get under something like a table to help protect from falling debris. Another thought would be to grab that spare mattress that everyone seams to have in their storage area and place it on the side of the table closest to the direction the blast would be coming from. In the below video, Cresson Kearny discusses a basement shelter.

If you don’t have a basement, do you have a crawl space? If so, apply the directions for the basement, in the smaller area of the crawl space. If you have neither of these, apply whatever is more applicable from what is mentioned in either #2 or #3 below.

2. You are driving through or working in town. Once again, where is the likely source of the blast wave coming from. Find a solid (concrete or brick) building and try to get into the basement as quickly as possible. Parking garages are another type of building in a city that would be good cover, and if it has a basement level, all the better.

Manholes are one of the better sources of protection, but usually, the biggest hurdle to them is gaining access (getting the manhole cover up). I first learned of a nifty improvised method from Bruce Clayton’s book, Life After Doomsday. In it he describes a “Key” to get a manhole cover open in an emergency. As he mentions, crowbars work too, but how many people carry crowbars in their car these days?

Alert post04

Manhole “Key” improvised from three items found in the tool box in my vehicle. An allen wrench, a piece of wire coat hanger, and two screws.

Alert post03

I used screws because if the loop is tight, they won’t fall out when tilted sideways to put in the manhole access hole.

Alert post05

Once they are all the way in, the screws act as a toggle by tilting sideways to lift the cover.

Alert post06

Two screws are still small enough to fit in the access hole, but strong enough to lift the cover.

Another source of some immediate blast protection is small drainage ditches. The drain itself doesn’t have to be big enough to get into, because you can drive over the ditch up where the drain comes out of the ground, and get underneath your vehicle.

Alert post02

In this situation, I’d drive my vehicle off of the street which is perpendicular to the main road (yes, I’d drive over the black and yellow “Caution” sign), and I’d straddle my vehicle’s tires over the ditch until only my rear bumper was over the blacktop. Then just get under your vehicle. You are protected from falling debris from above by your vehicle, and most of the blast effects (except for overpressure) from the sides are covered by the bank of the ditch.

3. You are on the Interstate/ in a remote area. Let’s say you were driving down the highway in Hawaii last Saturday at 8:05AM when you got that alert, and there are no buildings anywhere close, what do you do? My first reaction would be find a drainage ditch. As mentioned earlier, don’t get into a drainage ditch that appears to be parallel to what you think would be the path of the blast wave. If you do, you could be shot out of the end of that ditch like a bullet from the blast force that could be concentrated in that pipe. It is still better than being in the open, but I believe it’s more dangerous than the earlier mentioned “Car over drainage ditch” method.

Alert post07

If I was to use this pipe, I’d drive my vehicle over the grassy portion above the pipe (in the pic) down over the entrance to the pipe. Access to the entrance could be gained from the left side in the pic.

Although an overpass would do if you have nothing else, it would be my last choice of the things that have been mentioned. There isn’t a whole lot of cover under an over pass from something like a blast wave, and my concern would be of a possible collapse. It is still better than being in the open though, especially since you have the added protection of the vehicle you are in.

Alert post10

Getting behind the concrete wall at the base of the pillars on the left side is probably your best bet. Better yet would be if you could drive your vehicle up under either side off the roadway (less open area, less blast wave).

Alert post09

Stuff like this is why I’m not a fan of the “Overpass technique”.

If you are situationally aware, you know that most areas of roadway in the US have a number of drainage ditches, pipes, overpasses, and manhole covers (i.e…….cover) that could be used in a situation like what those in Hawaii faced last Saturday morning. The mantra “Stay Alert, Stay Alive” isn’t just a hokey military axiom, it is something that should be applied by everyone who calls themselves a Survivalist EVERYDAY!

Alert post08

How many areas in this pic do you think would make good, improvise blast protective shelters? Your vehicle can do nothing but aid in the blast protection if done right.

Although one of my MOS’s in the Mil was in NBC (nuclear, bio, chemical), you do not have to have that background to be able to use common sense to figure out a solution to your protection from things like a nuke blast. There is a lot of good info out there for free, so take advantage of it. Start with Cresson Kearny’s book “Nuclear War Survival Skills“, then read Clayton’s “Life After Doomsday“.

JCD