Wednesday, September 26, 2018
  • share this
Medical Files

How to prepare for a nuclear attack

/ 05:01 AM October 10, 2017

Do you know what to do in the event of a nuclear attack?

Just when we thought that the Cold War ended with the breakup and dissolution of the Soviet Union over two decades ago, a nuclear attack now looks imminent and real with the reckless posturing and taunting bravado between the United States and North Korea.


A careless pressing of a button is all it takes, and what makes it more threatening is that the potential source of the nuclear attack is much closer to our shores.

With the beating of war drums seemingly getting louder, with cooler heads unable to control them, a repeat of the nuclear catastrophe of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II is not that remote anymore.

Although we’re not really prime target for such an attack compared to nearby Guam and Japan, or Hawaii farther away, the threat of radioactive fallout reaching our country is still high.

Public awareness

That’s why the well-known health broadcaster couple, doctors Willie and Liza Ong, share important information and pointers in a video on their Facebook page to increase public awareness on what to do in case of a nuclear attack.

Doc Willie is calling on the government to help support this public education campaign, and to conduct drills, just as earthquake and terror attack drills are being conducted in schools and offices. The short- and long-term harmful effects of exposure to a nuclear fallout can be just as devastating as a major earthquake or terrorist attack.

The government must already think of a public alarm or warning signal in the event of a nuclear explosion. If there’s none, the blast itself, which definitely can be heard miles away, should alert people. A detonated nuclear weapon will cause a literally blinding bright light, which can be seen for miles away from ground zero (area of the blast). One should not look at the light directly as it can cause blindness.

Is it still possible to survive a nuclear war, considering that modern thermonuclear weapons are said to be hundreds to several thousand times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945? These killed close to 150,000 people in one explosion, and affected the health of millions of Japanese up to two generations later.

Traveling at a peak speed of 960 km per hour, the heat wave from the detonated bomb usually arrives in 30 seconds if one is less than 10 km away. This is followed by the shock wave, another 30 seconds later. People as far as 30 km away can still suffer serious burns.


Unless several of these bombs are detonated in the city where we live or within 10 km of ground zero, we’ll likely survive it. But we still need to watch out for injuries resulting from the nuclear fallout.

Distance from the nuclear explosion is a key factor, explains Doc Willie, whose informative videos and posts have been recognized by Facebook with a special seal usually given to celebrities with millions of followers.

The farther the bombs are detonated, the less risk of nuclear injuries, Doc Willie says. We need to tune in to the radio and TV for advice on the severity of the risk in our respective areas.

Time of nuclear explosion is another factor. The highest risk of exposure is experienced in the first 24 to 48 hours. If one is in an open field, the risk of exposure to nuclear fallout is almost 100 percent. Staying indoors, preferably on the ground level of a building or one’s home, significantly reduces risk of exposure.

Doc Willie advises designating a place in our homes where we can stay for the next 24-48 hours until it’s deemed safe to go out. This nuclear shelter should preferably have thick concrete walls so nuclear particles cannot penetrate them. They should also have no windows.

Some residents of Japan and Guam are already preparing nuclear shelters in their homes in the event of a nuclear attack. Even if the chances of the Philippines being a prime target are still remote at this point, it isn’t such a bad idea to have a nuclear shelter in our home, too.


Staying indoors for sometime means having enough provisions that can last several days.

For food, choose items that contain a lot of carbohydrates, since they give more calories. Also have cranked- or solar-powered communication devices like a radio and flashlights. Anticipate that there will be no electricity for days.

Have protective clothing (hats, gloves, goggles, closed sleeve shirt, etc.) that can shield you from radiation burns, especially if you need to go out of the shelter even for short periods. If you have to go out, decrease radiation particles by shaking your clothing constantly and washing immediately with water if you can’t discard them.

There may also be some nuclear residue on your exposed skin; this can still cause burns, so bathe immediately.

We may seem like the boy who cried wolf if we agree with Doc Willie and Doc Liza and prepare for a possible nuclear attack. But I totally agree with them and support their call for public preparedness in the event of a nuclear attack.

History has taught us that painful lesson. In World War II, the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki never thought that the US would make good its threat to drop those bombs.

And on those two fateful days in August 1945, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki learned their lesson the hard way.

In this ill-tempered day and age, as long as nuclear weapons exist, we can never sleep soundly at night knowing that a nuclear weapon can be detonated anywhere, anytime.

As the beating of war drums heightens with every hurting word spoken by petulant leaders, the threat is as real as the dreaded big quake or supertyphoon.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: nuclear attack
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2018 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.