Preparing for Nuclear war – critical items

As the only commentator has said, a plan needs to be flexible. But there are some items that are critical to most plans. Having been thinking about this for a while, a few things are cropping up as essential and I’m going to try listing those that have raised their heads so far:

  • A spade and general digging tools, and an entrenching tool, which can be wielded in a trench (this is necessary for a trench if you can’t otherwise get below ground).
  • A stout tarpaulin (>8x5m) and a rope and gaffa tape to make a dust and rain proof cover (this is necessary for the trench but also for the journey out)
  • Water containers … a lot of them. (100l per person)
  • A trolley/cart to carry water (35l/person) + food for a week + camping gear
  • (not found) A radiation detector that reliable works in areas up to 100rad/hour and which is proof against EMP. This is necessary to navigate your route out of a fallout zone, to ensure you don’t go into hot spots
  • (not found) An EMP proof radio. The only way to know where fallout has fallen, to plan your route out of a fallout zone, is to hope that government broadcasts this information on radio. Most likely, they will not, partly because government will collapse, but partly because they will try to force people to stay in the fallout zones, because they won’t be able to cope with those leaving. Whilst EMP is unproven … it’s still best to have a radio that would survive one.
  • Warm sleeping and clothing. For the journey out, it is preferable you have backpacking mats and sleeping bags which are designed to be carried.
  • Warm clothing, stout boots, map and compass (Even if you have a GPS, the satellites may not function)
  • Food
    • for the shelter (14 days) – tins are fine, avoid anything needing cooking
    • for the journey out (7 days) –  no tins except those without water like spam or energy rich like jam.
    • for the next year(s) … not practical to carry it out, but still essential. A bit of a pickle!
  • Camping cooking equipment. Gas will soon run out. You will quickly run out of matches or they get wet and unusable
  • All your essential documents: birth certificate, passport, bank cards and account details or copies (once you leave your house, you may never be allowed to return).
  • All your essential contacts (family, friends, work)
  • First aid (still very provisional):
    • All your standard meds, for a year (including contraceptives)
    • Burns: Your intended way to treat serious and extensive burns
    • Trauma: A well stocked very good first aid kit
    • Diseases: Antiseptics, antibiotics, water purification, diarrhoea treatment
    • A lot of washable/boilable bandages, cotton wool & anti-septic to cope with large open wounds for weeks. A large cotton sheet, that can be torn into strips may work
  • Sanitary supplies: bucket & suitable plastic bags for disposal of solids for 14 days. Toilet paper
  • Washing: bucket, cloths, soap, shampoo + detergent (clothes)
  • Lighting: Torch (with a lot of batteries, or means to recharge) (paraffin lamp + a lot of paraffin?)
  • Non-electric ways to be entertained such as books – but needs to be large print to be able to read in the dark of the shelter & many reading glasses. Something like musical instruments can be used in the dark.


I’m going to deal with a vehicle separately. The general rule with an emergency, is there is no point trying to get out by vehicle, unless you are well ahead of everyone else. My gut feeling is that after a nuclear attack, you will find your way out by vehicle blocked. So, even if the vehicle works (it may be affected by EMP if there is one), you may only get a couple of miles before the way is blocked. At this point a 4×4 with a winch is more likely to find a way around. But even with a 4×4, I think eventually you will have to walk. So, you should plan to walk because that is more difficult to plan for. Then you can easily use the car if its available. But if you plan to drive, you will then have real problems if you end up having to walk.

Mobile phones?

I guess most people will have to take them into a shelter, but I think they will be useless (except as a list of names). I suspect that the mobile phone network would be amongst the first things hit. With nothing much else to do, people will play on their phone till the battery runs out. They might have spare batteries. When they run out, they may as well throw them away. The company that used to supply your mobile phone will be gone, and it will probably be years before you can afford to get a new contract – with a new number. So, that list of contact numbers on your phone … not a lot of use as everyone has new numbers. Best to write down the names & numbers on a piece of paper, & backup all your electronic material entirely to a USB stick.

But that mobile will be something to hand on to your children … OK, I’m being a little over pessimistic. But you would be best to plan to make do without your phone and then it will be great for you if you find you can use it.

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