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How To Calculate Your Risk of Nuclear Fallout

Nuclear fallout has been a recurring theme in popular culture as of late. And it makes us wonder, are we actually at any risk of surviving a ruined landscape, ravaged by nuclear war? After a bit of research, We found out how to tell.

There are two resources that prove invaluable in figuring out how much risk you’d be in if nuclear war broke out. The first is the Nuclear Strike Map. This map, shown below, was calculated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1974 for the “Disaster Relief Preparatory Manual for the Washington-DC Metro Area.” The map is a visual indication of the primary target locations of a Soviet nuclear strike in the 80s. It also indicates the levels of fallout the surrounding area would experience.

File:US nuclear strike map.svg
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

It’s worth noting that this map is fairly out of date, given its age. But it’s a decent indicator of danger zones.

The other resource is a fascinating website called NukeMap. This interactive map allows the user to simulate nuclear bombs wherever on earth they desire. With a bunch of preset options, players can emulate real life bomb models like Ivy Mike, the largest US bomb ever tested, to Tsar Bomba, the largest USSR bomb ever designed. The map will then show in-depth information about the detonation and the level of destruction.

While some of the circles may look smaller than expected, I found that the fallout option really revealed the full danger. In the header image above, we see the circle of destruction of Ivy Mike on Columbus, OH, with the fallout zone if we assumed a 5 mph wind moving east. Anyone in the colored zones will be dead of radiation poisoning in around 40 days. When you consider all of the other directions the wind could blow, this means that all of Ohio, and a good chunk of the neighboring states, would all become uninhabitable.

With this, It would only take 4 Ivy Mike bombs to completely cover the United States in dangerous amounts of radiation.

So if nuclear war is your concern, try playing with these resources to see how badly your home might be affected. Maybe a nuclear bunker is a better idea than people think.

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