Okey dokey. Some third-world loser with headspace and timing problems has decided to detonate a fission device. That week well-paid homeland security officials are busy selling household items on e-bay. The F.B.I. is occupied pursuing sexual discrimination cases. That month the Mayor of your city is emphasizing the use of police to arrest those drinking twenty-two ounce carbonated beverages. You're on your own. You aren't directly under the blast, but some distance away. You are not suffering from injury or obvious burns. The best thing to do is to stay put. And get some protection from fallout. Assuming you are to remain in the fallout area and not be evacuated, it is necessary to obtain protection which attenuates the gamma radiation. The basic principal to be borne in mind is that any massive or thick material will decrease the nuclear radiation level to some extent, whereas lighter construction (hollow, thin or light walls) permits the radiation to penetrate. A layer of concrete eight inches thick or of earth twelve inches thick will yield an attenuation factor of 10. Doubling these thicknesses will increase the factor to one hundred. Thus, each extra foot of earth between an individual and fallout will increase the protection factor ten-fold. Scattered radiation will come from many directions so that protection is necessary from all directions, either by use of a mass of material or by distance. Instructions for building relatively simple and effective fallout shelters are readily available. Basically, a fallout shelter is a structure with massive walls and ceiling. A subway tunnel is ideal. Plan on occupying a shelter for a period of two weeks, until the natural decay of the radioactivity outside will allow you to emerge. In any area where contamination is at all significant it will be necessary to spend after the burst sheltered from the residual gamma radiation. During the period immediately following a nuclear explosion the radiation levels will be highest, and protection most important. In almost any house having a buried basement with uniformly thick walls, a protection factor of twenty to forty is possible. As a rough rule-of-thumb, it may be stated that for every seven-fold increase in time, the radiation level will decrease by a factor of ten, provided the fallout is complete. For example, the radiation level at the end of seven days will have fallen to roughly one-tenth that at the end of one day. At the end of forty-nine days, it will have decreased by a factor of one hundred.
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