Preparing for Nuclear War II

Last year I started looking into what was needed to prepare for a nuclear war. In part, this was because my analysis of history indicated that large “revolutions” in information, usually led to periods of appalling behaviour such as the Witch trials and the various atrocities of Hitler, Stalin Mao in the early 20th century.

The purpose of this article, is to explain, what I believe to be a realistic scenario, and to start to think about what we as individuals can do to prepare. Key to that preparation, is having a concept of what “survival” looks like. Because unless we both believe a nuclear war is possible and also believe surviving is feasible, there doesn’t appear to be much point preparing.

Why believe me? Because as a physicist I understand the impacts of nuclear, and as someone researching survival, I have looked into survival techniques. And last year I started, not by looking at a survival book, or worse a prepping site, but by looking at what had been successful strategies during other emergencies. Not just 20th century, but going way back into history. Does that mean I will be right? Probably not, but I would hope to be less wrong than the vast bulk of other people writing on the subject.

As history is our best predictor of the future, and as nuclear war seems to be on the table right now, it looks very likely, given the current behaviour of politicians, that we will end in nuclear war. It’s a terrible thing to say, and I could be wrong, but I’ve not yet seen anything to suggest the necessary sanity to prevent such an atrocity is returning. (We still have the utter madness of “net zero”, the most costly public policy ever … which is unlikely to do anything for the climate. We saw the insanity of locking up the country and closing down the NHS, for a bug that was not a lot worse than flus we see every ten years. And now Ukraine. Common sense seems to have departed politics … and that seems to be heading us towards nuclear war)

So, unless things improve, we should expect a nuclear war as more likely than not. Or perhaps the “atrocity” is something else entirely … the only way to tell what the actual threat may be, is a time machine, something which I do not have.

But, it does seem that we ought to start preparing. I’m still struggling with that. The concept that we ought to prepare for something so terrible … surely it can’t happen … but people thought the same about Hitler, and they no doubt also thought “it can’t happen”, they thought the same about Mao, about the witch trials. They can and do happen. It is a matter of fact they can and do happen, and if, as seems to be the case, this is the time that another one is likely to happen, then the rational thing to do is to prepare.

How to prepare

The Scenario

First, we need to know what we are likely preparing for. Forget the ins and outs of who is to blame, the most likely scenario I think, based on what I have seen of the strategy, tactics and political “moves” of both sides, is that the UK’s military establishment will be hit by a single strike largely out of the blue.

There is no advantage to any warning. Which is why I think, when it comes, it will come without warning. There is no advantage to killing civilians, if the military establishment are wiped out. So, I suspect that no civilians will be targeted, although every civilian will be affected in some way.

Indeed, in some ways, it won’t matter whether civilians are targeted. The size and effect of nuclear weapons, means that the area where people get killed will be enormous.

After the attack, almost all the services such as heating, lighting, water, communications, will cease to function. And, there is almost no prospect of them working within the first month. That means the economy ceases to function. Money will be worthless. My estimate is that it will take at least a month for any kind of resemblance of “emergency” organisation to materialise. Even then, assistance will only be given to those who make their way out of the fallout zones. And, even then, you will be extremely lucky to get medical treatment, let alone a bed and a meal every day. Getting help, will be very slow, and there won’t be a lot of it.

Get out the conflict zone

As a general rule, the first rule is not to be anywhere near where the bombs are likely to land. As a second rule, the military will put their bases where they believe the bombs are least likely to land.

The only really safe place, is a neutral country, but with even Switzerland entering the war against Russia, finding one is not as easy as it sounds. There are many other countries throughout the world, but with a potential war including China and spreading to the middle east, … and is it really safer to be where you are a total stranger? Let’s put it this way: China produced a list of all the countries bombed by the US since WWII. It was the majority of all countries worldwide. These, together with “the west”, plus Russia, China and allies, are the likely conflict zone, which doesn’t leave many countries.

It is not easy to predict where is going to be safe.

As problematic, it is not easy to predict when nuclear war will start. There isn’t a lot of historical precedent by which to know the likely timescale.

Prepping – don’t!!

The second rule, is that most prepping sites are run by people who make a living in some way from selling people “prepping” supplies … so they will all tell you to go and SPEND SPEND SPEND on things, most of which will be no help … and the other big sponsor of “prepping” is the US government homeland security (who had a program to encourage people to be ready for emergency evacuation … and must have thought, pushing the anti-government prepping agenda would achieve that).

The simple fact, is that most people who have wasted all their money on “prepping”, will likely fair no better as a result. If you are in the fallout zone and need “prepping” … you will likely have to walk out with just what you can carry. If you are not in the fallout zone … you can expect a (new) government agent to “request” all your supplies, or order you to leave your house “for your own safety”.

I do wonder how many “preppers” gave the suppliers their names and addresses on their huge orders of food? OK, perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but I have not found much of use on “prepper sites”.

What can we do?

Let me be honest, and say I struggle with that question. I have read a great deal, and I was sorely disappointed with the material that is available, most of it still based on the ideas of the 1960s. Also, don’t believe in some kind of zombie apocalypse and think you’ll need weapons. The reality of disasters, is that people usually pull together. People do help others, it brings people together. If there are problems, from what I found doing research, they come, not from other people, but from the stupidity of government and government employees, who take it into their mind they must “force” people to do something.

That is what happened during covid. The mini-hitlers decided they knew better than everyone else. The reality, is that given the right information and an initial period to understand the situation, people would have acted sensibly, which meant not taking the jab. But government took it into its head that it knew best, and tried to force a course of action which was not in our best interests.

Something similar could well happen after a nuclear attack. Civil servants are not the brightest sparks in the box, and they are the worst people to deal with a time critical emergency. It is pretty safe to say, that they are the last people who should be in charge in an emergency. And, they well be foreigners who aren’t exactly enthusiastic with Britain’s part in the war.

The key items

The key items are these:

  • Knowledge
  • Practical experience
  • First aid
  • Knowing what to do when (better just before) the bomb hits
  • A below-ground shelter (but will you get to it?)
  • Protection from cold and wet
  • A huge amount of clean drinking water, a bare minimum is over 100litre per person or 25 mid-sized milk containers, cleaned and filled with clean water.
  • Food that can be consumed without power or heating (at least 1month, ideally much more)
  • Transportation (both 4×4 vehicle and the equipment to walk out hundreds of miles).
  • Building repair materials and tools

What about “living off the land”

It’s what the survivor series in the 70s told us would be the future. We’d all become green and start growing our own crops, hunting, fishing and BULLSHIT!!!

If you want to know what it will be like, a better model is the 1930s depression or even the various famines. People will be living in shacks, looking for work, and desperately trying to buy the little food & fuel that is available. Yes, if there is work that day, people might try to add to the puny food that a day’s wage can buy by … let’s be honest: catching rats, and eating various greens like tree leaves and dandelions. But those won’t feed people. The food we can get “for free” in the UK is invariably low calorie. It will just give those who survive a little bit more variety, and few more vitamins. The only food we’ll be getting with calories, will be what is being shipped in from all those countries where we dumped food in the past.

So, all the rice that wasn’t fit for their animals … we’ll get as “charity”.

Avoid government camps

One of the worst places to end up will be the “government camps” … which will almost certainly be death camps for many. And, remember it may not be our own government doing the organisation. So, don’t expect good treatment or even a say on the matter.

Supplementing your diet by the odd rat and tree leaf, is only going to be an option for those who do not end up in the camps. You can pretty much guarantee that the camp doors will be locked to stop people leaving “for their own good”. And, that means that every single living thing in the camp will be consumed, with nothing but mud left over.

I would anticipate that the post nuclear period with these mass camps will last several years. We won’t have our own government, and the government we have, won’t have a lot of sympathy for us. Things will be hard for them, we’ll be a very forgotten afterthought.

So, it’s likely that the camps will see epidemics of killer disease, and it’s unlikely that those in control will be too concerned.

So, having a plan to escape or avoid the new government control might be a good idea.

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4 Responses to Preparing for Nuclear War II

  1. Pingback: Preparing for Nuclear – Revised Scenario | Scottish Sceptic

  2. Pingback: Preparing for Nuclear war III | Scottish Sceptic

  3. Ben Vorlich says:

    I’ve a bit busy so didn’t reply to previous reply.

    Like everything assessing a situation requires looking at all sources of information. Taking information from only one, [articularly taking information from sources you tend to agree with leads to serious mistakes.
    I try to look at both sides objectively, usually not successfully, but as Russia is concerned I feel they haven’t accepted that some consituent parts of the former Russian Empire don’t actually want to be part of the New Russian Empire.
    It’s similar to Brexitists not accepting that Nationalists might feel the same about the United Kingdom as they did/do about the EU.

    As far as preparation for anything, including Nuclear Holocausts and Climate Armageddon, Helmuth von Moltke got it right. As soon as what you were planning for happens you find your plan was flawed, often fatally flawed. In many ways having no plan gives flexibility, as people with plans cannot accept there’s a problem with it and stick with the plan long after it becomes obvious to others it has failed.
    The second problem is plans can be over complex, the Imperial Japanese Navy suffered from this through WW2. The USN never did what they were supposed to do. The Japanese never planned for the plan to fail early and stuck with it to the bitter end. The only time a plan of the IJN came close to working was a Leyte Gulf when one American Admiral was so fixated on destroying Japan’s last aircraft carriers that he ignored everything else *. Saved only by a timid Japanese Admiral and some brave people on small ships.

    *Also another reason why plans fail, a human knowing better than the plan

    • Pict1 says:

      Can I ask whether you think in the case of a nuclear war, that it might be an idea to have a shelter, water, food and some way to keep warm?

      If so, then please explain what is wrong with thinking this through … an how is it “planning”? It is simply identifying priorities in the event that such an event happens.

      And, what is wrong with identifying those things that would be the critical difference between living and dying? That is scenario analysis, not planning. It is testing how you would flexibly respond to an event and seeing what is critical to your success. For a flexible response, some things are critical.

      For example, yesterday I was writing about building a “15minute” shelter. The time period is the best estimate of the minimum time available between a nuclear explosion and fallout. The assumption, I use, is that no preparation has been done, and then I try to work out what is possible within the shortest time possible. What repeatedly comes out, is that I need a spade and ideally a short spade, and I need a tarpaulin or tent. I already have the appropriate equipment, what I need is the knowledge of how long it takes to build a suitable shelter and how I might equip it. Again, not as a “plan”, but as a flexible response … and to have a flexible response, I need to know what is not flexible. What is critical to success. So long as I know what is critical and have those aspects covered, the rest can be flexible.

      That is not a plan. Indeed, in the scenario of a sudden attack, there is no knowing where any of us would be. So, having a hard and fast response, when we do not know where we would be, is not possible.

      The minimum time between explosion and deadly fallout is 15minutes. If you were on a motorway, that is barely time to get to the next exit, let alone find some form of shelter. As nuclear war approaches, will you take the approach that “there are some circumstances where I’m just going to die … even though with some preparation you could survive. Or are you going to try to find out what that minimal preparation that converts a path to death, into a path for life, might be>

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