Growing up during the latter part of the Cold War the threat of nuclear was was a constant threat during my youth. Not as much as it was for my Mom’s generation but we still had weekly tests of air raid sirens around town and regular nuclear attack drills in schools. The signage for nuclear fallout shelters in public buildings were all around us and a few folks were still buying/building their own bunkers although in the soggy ground of coastal Texas those were really pretty rare. Once the Soviet Union “fell” the threat seemed to evaporate in most people’s minds. Only to resurface (briefly) after Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and, more recently, Fukushima.
For the most part though, the threat of nuclear related risks have been off of most people’s radar screens for some time but as the folk singer said, ‘the times they are a changin.” Between the Fukushima disaster and the increasing nuclear threat from rogue/unstable nations like North Korea, Iran and Pakistan the nuclear threat is starting to resurface as an area of concern for a lot more people.
After the disaster at Fukushima I did a little research to see where the nuclear plants were near my home. It turns out there is one within about 90 miles of me. Do you know if there one close to you? The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission maintains a map of commercial nuclear power plants that can be found here:
Now, this is not the entire picture of nuclear plants in operation. There are several nuclear reactors that are run by research institutions, the government, and other entities that do not appear on this map. For example, at least two major universities operate research reactors. One is within 100 miles of us and the other is within 170 miles. It is much harder to find a list of these types of reactors and I only know about these two because I know people who attended these universities and were a part of the programs that ran the reactors.
Once you know where the reactors are, to properly gauge the risk it is important to know which way the wind blows (generally). I found a site for that as well (https://weatherspark.com). Knowing which way the wind generally blows during certain time of the year but should there be an incident you’ll need more accurate and real time information.
Now the tough question, how far from the incident is safe?
Well that depends on wind direction, the nature of the incident and who you ask. As we saw with Chernobyl and Fukushima, the governments (theoretically) responsible for the safety of their people frequently base this decision as much on political considerations as scientific and technical considerations. Why did the Japanese government draw the line around Fukushima as 20 kilometers for a mandatory evacuation and 30 or a voluntary evacuation? Well, to be honest, it appears that much of that was based on political considerations and infrastructure constraints rather than the impact on people’s health…so, this is something best researched and decided on your own.
For many preppers potasium iodide (KI) is viewed as the holy grail for dealing with radiation exposure. Not many people are truly informed on what it can help mitigate and what it cannot. Here are a couple of good links on what it can help with and what it can’t:
Potassium Iodide is readily available online from pharmacies such as CVS as well as Amazon. Keep in mind that there is an expiration date where the medication starts to loose effectiveness and many “deals” on it really are not. So make sure you check the dates and rotate it out as you would with your food supply. I don’t toss mine that goes beyond the expiration date. I just buy new and keep the old around. If there is someone who wasn’t prepared for such an eventuality, old and out of date is better than nothing and I will freely share it along with the warning about the potency.
The Thoughtfully prepping blog just had an interesting post on “improvised” medicines if potasium Iodide isn’t available when you need it: https://thoughtfullyprepping.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/rough-medicine/
Whether is be a nuclear accident, a terrorist attack using a dirty bomb or a rogue state like Iran or North Korea the risk of a nuclear/radiation-based disaster is real and you should take the time to research it a bit more. Adding a few things to the stocks on hand could make a world of difference.