In the event of a nuclear disaster, it is imperative that you have the right gear to protect yourself and your family.
The fallout from a nuclear explosion can be incredibly dangerous, and without the proper supplies, you could very well die. That’s why we’ve put together this list of nuclear fallout survival gear.
This list includes everything from radiation detectors to emergency food rations. So if you’re looking to prepare for the worst, make sure to check out our mega-list!
Nuclear Winter Approaches
The combined stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world has hardly been reduced, despite dozens of treaties. There exist now enough nukes to fairly scour the globe clean of life.
But in the event of a major nuclear war or even a limited exchange, there will still be winners and losers. Unfortunately “winning” in this case will still feel a lot like losing!
That’s because the poor survivors will be struggling on through the eerie landscape of nuclear winter, a land covered with radioactive fallout.
Surviving in this chilling, deadly moonscape requires plenty of specialist gear and the knowledge to use it.
But even in the case of a highly limited exchange, lone terror attack with a nuke, or just a gnarly nuclear power accident you’ll still have to deal with the fallout, and it might prove more dangerous in the long run than the blast itself!
The gear and supplies needed to combat and cope with fallout are highly specialized, things you cannot get just anywhere.
Despite this, modern commerce has made these supplies more accessible than ever to the average citizen concerned about nuclear preparation.
With the world stage once again set for a conflict between major powers the shadow of the atom once again looms over the cities of man! You have time to prepare now, don’t squander the opportunity! Consult the list of items below to get what you need.
The Prepper’s Mega-List of Nuclear Fallout Survival Gear
This is an absolute must-have if you want to survive nuclear fallout. A radiation detector will help you avoid areas that are contaminated with radiation, and it can also be used to monitor your own exposure levels.
And before you go buy some old and outdated Geiger counter, consider that the newest, modern radiation detectors are far more accurate, easier to use and provide more meaningful and useful data that can help you make informed decisions about people, gear and areas that have been affected by radiation.
There are even radiation detector attachments that can be utilized with modern smartphones alongside an accompanying app that interfaces with the device. These are perfect for the technologically savvy prepper.
As always, even though these devices and apps have come a long way when it comes to user-friendliness they don’t do much good without the education to interpret the readings. Make sure you brush up on your knowledge base before you need it!
U.S. Army NBC Field Manual (FM 3-7)
Let’s face it, the danger and behavior of radiation is probably unknown to most of us beyond the fact that we know it is dangerous.
Unless you are coming into the event with skills, training, and experience from a prior career and government, military or civilian sectors you probably won’t know your radiation detector from an iodide tablet.
Even though the subject seems impenetrable to people looking in from the outside, like anything else there is plenty you can do to beef up your personal skills and understanding ahead of an actual nuclear fallout event.
A great place to start is with the US Army’s own NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) manual which provides easy to understand information, reference material and pictures for keeping yourself safe from the threat of fallout and navigating the fallout-caked world.
It makes for a pretty chilling bedtime reading, and hopefully, you’ll never need the information contained in this manual or others, but this is a subject you must start brushing up on now.
Gas Mask w/ Filters
A gas mask will protect you from inhaling airborne contaminants, namely radioactive dust, and the filters are what will remove harmful particles from the air that you breathe.
Not all gas masks and not all filters are cut out for this duty, and you definitely don’t want to fall into the trap of buying old and degraded military surplus.
Filters have a definitive shelf life, and the masks themselves wear out over time in storage, losing their protective value.
Your very best bet is to buy a new production gas mask from Mira safety or similar consumer suppliers along with a large stash of filters to go along with it.
Gas masks that are set up for radiological protection will invariably need to be used with a hood that will keep fallout off of your hair and head and a remote that will move the filter away from your face.
As you might expect, a gas mask will only do much good in a radioactive environment if it is used with a protective suit, the next item on our list.
A protective suit is another essential piece of PPE if you want to reduce the hazards posed by radioactive fallout.
Fallout is always dangerous, but it is at its worst when it is in contact with your body, either embedded in clothing or directly on your skin.
This fallout that is in contact with your body is also more likely to be ingested by inhalation or by touching your mouth, food, or drink.
Though the vast majority of protective suits do not offer meaningful resistance to radioactive fallout, they make it far easier to decontaminate yourself quickly and easily whenever you are leaving a hot zone or heading back to shelter.
A good protective suit will include a hood as mentioned above for use in conjunction with a gas mask, gloves, and specialized boots or booties that fit over your existing footwear.
The proper wear, use, and maintenance of a protective suit is yet another skill unto itself, one you must practice before the time comes that you need it.
Consider buying these suits in bulk to outfit yourself and your family for the duration of a fallout event.
Emergency Food Rations
In the event of a nuclear disaster, food could be scarce. Or rather, safe and edible food will become scarce.
That’s why it’s important to have emergency food rations that can last you and your family for weeks or even months in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation or a nuclear accident.
The problem with radioactive fallout is that it does not have to directly contaminate or contact food or drink in order to make it dangerous for you to ingest it.
Any packaged food or beverage, even if it is perfectly and tightly sealed, that comes into contact with fallout will itself start to become radioactive.
Even if you wash it and decontaminated it thoroughly prior to eating it, you may still be ingesting radioactive material.
For this reason, finding rations that you know are safe to eat is going to be extremely difficult in the aftermath.
Your very best bet for ensuring a steady supply of calories is to have your own emergency rations safely stored so you can access them after the bomb goes off knowing they will be free of contamination.
Any scavenged bottled water that you find will be subject to the same concerns as packaged food detailed above.
Even if the seals of the container are intact it could have been rendered dangerously radioactive by contact or proximity to nuclear fallout.
The solution is to have a similar stash of bottled water that is well-protected and ready to drink when you need it.
It is also worth considering that you’ll need plenty of water for emergency decontamination purposes, and in this regard a large tank or barrel of water specifically for that objective is worthwhile.
Even compared to other survival situations your need for trusted, safe drinking water in a nuclear fallout event is going to be very acute, so make sure you have prepared accordingly.
Water Purification System
A water purification system is essential for making sure that any scavenged water supplies you do find can be treated and made it safe to drink. Now, a clarification.
The vast majority of portable and non-portable water filtration systems will do nothing to reduce the radioactivity present in irradiated water supplies even if the radioactive particulate itself can be removed.
However, it is entirely possible to locate natural or man-made reservoirs of water that might still be dangerously contaminated with microorganisms or other dissolved solids while being free of radiation.
It would be a shame to drink this water in an attempt to avoid dehydration only to die of dysentery or some other communicable waterborne disease despite the radioactive wasteland you survived so far!
For those who are interested, certain filtration systems, namely reverse osmosis types, can remove radioactivity from water, but their expense, complexity and comparative fragility not to mention extreme risks associated with gathering irradiated water mean this might not be a great plan.
A first aid kit is always a good idea, but it’s especially important in the event of a nuclear disaster. This will help you to treat any injuries that you or your family may suffer.
As with literally everything else that might have been exposed to the blast of a nuclear bomb or any amount of fallout in the aftermath, typical first aid supplies like gauze, bandages, medications, ointments, and so forth can be rendered radioactive and subsequently do more harm than good if used.
That means you’re going to need a kit of your own that is kept packed, securely stashed, and ready to use at a moment’s notice in the aftermath of a nuclear strike.
You want to include all the typical first aid kit supplies in this one, thanks for minor injuries as well as trauma, but make sure you double up on all supplies needed for treating burns and radiation sickness.
Potassium Iodide Tablets
The human body is incredibly vulnerable to harmful radiation and certain tissues and organs, in particular, namely your thyroid gland, can be gravely affected by the ingestion of even minute amounts of radioactive material.
There’s not much you can do to protect yourself against this unfortunate occurrence, but there is one known and thoroughly tested preventative: potassium iodide tablets.
These tablets function by essentially blocking the receptors in your thyroid gland and other tissues to prevent them from uptaking other radioactive isotopes.
In doing so, the radiation is far more likely to pass through your body than remain in your body.
Contrary to popular depiction, these tablets do not make you immune or particularly resistant to the overall effects of radiation.
Instead, they counter one known and deleterious effect of radiation ingestion that commonly results in severe long-term health effects.
A large supply of these tablets is a foundational element of any nuclear fallout readiness kit.
A flashlight will be a valuable tool in the aftermath of a nuclear blast because the power is going to go out and it probably will not come back on for a very long time, if it comes back on at all.
Additionally, the typical overcast and Haze that accompanies a nuclear winter means that conditions will be darker and dimmer than you are used to, especially inside buildings, and very particularly inside large buildings that rely on electric light for illumination.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to flashlights, but when considering a nuclear survival flashlight I highly recommend two types.
The first type is the weaker but dependable crank-operated type that utilizes muscle power to charge an internal battery.
So long as you have a little bit of gas in your own tank, you’ll always have a working flashlight unless it gets broken.
The other type is a USB rechargeable flashlight that can be utilized with a portable solar charging array.
These flashlights can afford some of the best performance currently available on the market and remain independent of reliance on consumable power cells.
Headlamps make great compliments to flashlights because they allow you to illuminate a near area while keeping both hands free for other tasks.
They are especially convenient when wearing a gas mask and utilizing bulky, fallout-resistant gloves that severely hamper your manual dexterity.
Like flashlights, headlamps come in many styles and formats and you should pick whichever one makes the most sense for you, but as always I prefer rechargeables with a mating solar charger and cables so I can remain battery independent if required.
Batteries are essential for powering many flashlights and other electronics.
Just because there’s been a nuclear blast does not necessarily mean that the EMP effect associated with such weapons will have necessarily destroyed your electronics. Therefore, it is unwise to assume that you’ll be discarding them out of hand.
Any devices that you rely on should have an ample supply of batteries in a protected location.
You can set yourself up for success if you consolidate battery types and styles as much as you can for your devices.
I recommend trying to limit yourself to only two types of primary cell, be it AAA or AA for smaller tools and then a larger C or D battery for bigger devices, whatever the case may be.
A radio will allow you to stay informed about what’s going on in the world, and it can also be used to communicate with others.
You can rely upon typical GMRS or FRS radio sets, a proper Ham radio setup or if you only want to get updates about the greater situation and listen in on other broadcasts you can choose a crank-operated emergency radio.
Whatever the case, the self-contained nature of radio sets means they are likely the only communications device that will be able to establish a network for notifications and conversations.
Although more robust and reliable under the circumstances compared to cell phones, using a radio properly takes a little bit of practice and know-how, so make sure you brush up on radio theory and operation prior to the oncoming nuclear winter.
A multi-tool can be used for a variety of tasks, from fixing things to opening cans of food. They are compact, highly portable, and generally capable of most light-duty operations.
Although they will never truly replace a proper toolbox or tool bag, they will save a ton of weight and room among your other supplies and prove themselves useful time and time again.
You have many options when it comes to multi-tools today, everything from the traditional loaded pliers model to Classic designs like the trusty Swiss Army knife.
Any or all of them could do the job you ask of them, but one factor I would consider above all others for our purposes is how easy the tool is to manipulate with gloves on.
Also, consider the handiness of the tool when you are using it. Specifically, you don’t want one that is so grabby or pinchy that you risk breaching your gloves or your suit just because you are handling it.
Duct tape can be used for a variety of purposes, from repairs to fashioning a make-shift shelter.
Every prepper likely already knows and appreciates how versatile and useful this stuff is, but it will take on entirely new and special importance in the context of nuclear preparation.
Sealing up your shelter to prevent the incursion of radioactive dust and other debris that makes up fallout is imperative for staying safe in the aftermath.
Any draft, no matter how small, might bring with it radioactive material that can slowly, invisibly contaminate you and your possessions with lethal effect.
Good, trusty duct tape is all that is required for sealing up these cracks and crevices, and in conjunction with other materials can be fashioned or repurposed into nearly any material solution you might require for the task.
Plastic sheeting is going to be your survival wingman to duct tape’s Superstar. Using duct tape alongside it, you can fashion plastic sheeting into airflow blocking barriers, airlocks for decontamination, or quarantine buffers for affected materials or individuals.
Especially if you are in a good inhabitable shelter, you won’t be able to get enough plastic sheeting to improve your margins of safety and help you keep a handle on potentially dangerous fallout. Get several large, thick rolls for your fallout survival stash.
A map will help you to navigate your way through the nuclear wasteland after modern conveniences like GPS and electronic mapping go irretrievably offline.
Considering that the landscape you emerge from your shelter into is likely going to look very, very different from the way it did when you went in, a map might make the difference in orienting yourself.
You must consider that most landmarks we consider permanent in normal times, things like major roads and railways, forests, and even hills might be annihilated by a nuclear blast.
Even so, a map still represents your best chance of recognizing any remaining landmarks and using those to start finding your way.
A compass will ensure that you always know which direction you’re going and is a vital companion to maps as described above.
When GPS and other direction-finding equipment fails, you should still be able to rely on your compass for direction-finding so long as there are not any lingering magnetic anomalies.
If you have the skills, a proper field or lensatic compass is going to be more accurate and more useful for long-distance overland navigation, but even a rudimentary button or clipper compass is more than adequate for figuring out which way you are going.
Just because you are buttoned up inside a shelter does not mean that toilets will continue to work normally.
Even so, the need for proper sanitation and hygiene concerns demands that you have a plan for dealing with human waste that will accumulate in the coming days and weeks.
An emergency toilet, in the form of a specialized indoor toilet or camping toilet, will allow life to go on more or less as normal so long as you have a ready supply of heavy-duty bags for containing and disposing of the waste.
If you fail to obtain one of these devices, you can easily fashion a workable substitute utilizing a few scraps of smooth wood or modified chair and a 5-gallon painter’s bucket.
You also want absorbent media in the form of sawdust, kitty litter or shredded paper to line the toilet or bucket with to control moisture and odors.
Despite your best efforts, you must assume that you will be exposed at some point to radioactive fallout.
Once this fallout makes contact with clothing it is extremely difficult to get out of the clothing without specialized decontamination measures. It is more likely that you’ll have to consider the clothing lost for the duration.
Accordingly, you had better have plenty of spare clothing on hand that you know is uncontaminated.
Being able to change into fresh clothing after a close call with radioactive material or just after your daily wear set has become irredeemably filthy will be a necessity.
You don’t need anything fancy here, and the more utilitarian and easy to care for the clothing is the better. Don’t forget to include socks and underwear in your spares.
Extra Large Sealing Plastic Bags
For dealing with items that are already dangerously contaminated by fallout, or things that you cannot simply throw away without consequence, you may place them in extra large, zipper lock ceiling plastic bags for safer storage until such time as you have the means to decontaminate them.
Again, just because you have contained radioactive particulates does not mean the radiation cannot pass through the thin plastic with virtually no impediment.
Contaminated or suspected contaminated items must be kept out of and at a safe distance from your shelter and living quarters at all times.
The Fallout-Ready Prepper
Out of all the many disasters and catastrophes that preppers might prepare for, the Doomsday scenario of a nuclear detonation is one of the most terrifying.
Assuming that one survives the blast your survival struggle will still have only just begun.
The persistent and deadly threat of nuclear fallout will persist for weeks, months or even years in the aftermath, and only the most diligent and properly prepared will stand any chance of making it through the bleak nuclear winter.
Do you have a plan for dealing with a nuclear detonation and the aftermath? Are there any essential supplies or other resources you keep on hand that wasn’t featured on this list? Let us know down in the comments below.
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