Sunday, March 20, 2022

An Expedient Shelter That You Have Not Thought About

This report on shelter in place for nuclear reactor failure, dirty bomb etc. radiation shielding factors for a variety of buildings.  If you know much about this you know that a single story house in the center of the house is good to reduce exposure to about 1/4th the exterior exposure.  That is not great.  If North Korea used its entire stockpile on the U.S., this might be enough for people in much of rhe nation.  But generally you want to be in a basement or the interior part of a very large building.  You are getting the benefit of some shielding by mass and radiation sources a long ways away mean that it will dissipate with the inverse square of distance (just like heat from a fire).

There are very few buildings like that around where I live.  In Idaho we build out, not up.  So my surprise in that document was supermarket or big box store. (8.5 reduction factor, so about twice as good as a single story frame house. The roof is a long way up.  Fallout risk is reduced by distance.   As I have previously mentioned, fallout on the ground outside is the big issue.   But the center of a supermarket is a long ways from outside.  Best of all, any food not already bought or looted is immediately available.  (Bring along a camp stove so you can cook some of food before it goes bad.)

The problems include: have looters smashed in the windows to get food?  Has the store already been occupied by someone as aware as you?  Can you get access without smashing windows Can? Can you persuade late arrivals to not smash in the windows?  Sign out front: "You are welcome, please remove outer clothes, brush dust from your hair, and wash off with bottled water."  Even dozens of families could not eat through most of the food.  The first few nights will be steak, chicken, and any other frozen foods that you can cook.  After that, canned foods.  Do you have any idea how many cans of green beans and soup are in a supermarket?  Water, soft drinks, the water in those green beans cans: I doubt thirst will be an issue.  

Also, the store has restrooms which will likely operate for a few days, maybe more depending on how much your city's water is gravity fed from the water tower.  Some cities use pumps as well to make up for variations in elevation.

Some big box stores will have plenty of food (Costco).  In others, you are shielded but you are going to be living off the candy bars and soft drinks at the cash registers.   On the other hand, you can build a shelter with the available materials and reduce your exposure a bit more.


  1. Fallout sinks, radiation follows the inverse square law, and levels decay rapidly.

    A couple of weeks in a sailboat is an option.

    1. I am not near a sailboat. If I lived in Cascade, this would be practical, but then my risk would be small anyway.