Science & Tech

New research reveals the best way to survive a nuclear attack

Head of UN nuclear watchdog says experts to stay permanently in Ukraine

Nobody wants to live in a world where a nuclear attack could happen – but now new research has shown what the best thing to do is if this dreaded day ever comes.

It turns out that people should hole up in the corners of concrete buildings to for the best chance of survival, rather than cower near windows and doors.

Lead author Dr Ioannis Kokkinakis, of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, said: "People should stay away from these locations and immediately take shelter.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

"Even in the front room facing the explosion, one can be safe from the high airspeeds if positioned at the corners of the wall facing the blast."

This research - published in the journal Physics of Fluids - was based on computer simulations where the Cypriot team used advanced modeling techniques to study how a nuclear blast wave speeds through a standing structure.

An atomic bomb explosion from a typical intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was simulated along with the blast wave to see what would happen to people taking cover indoors.

In order to find out where would be the best place to be, mock-up rooms, windows, doorways and corridors were used to figure out the air speed resulted from the blast wave.

The blast wave caused some buildings to fall and injure people caught outdoors. However, concrete structures remained standing.

Co lead author Professor Dimitris Drikakis, from the same lab, said: "Before our study, the danger to people inside a concrete-reinforced building that withstands the blast wave was unclear.

"Our study shows high air speeds remain a considerable hazard and can still result in severe injuries or even fatalities."

Being inside a robust building does not prevent the danger because tight spaces increase the blast’s air speed that has the strength to reflect off walls and bend round corners.

It can produce a force equivalent to up to 18 times a human's body weight.

Dr Kokkinakis said: "The most dangerous critical indoor locations to avoid are the windows, the corridors and the doors."

There are a matter of seconds in terms of the time between the explosion and the arrival of the blast wave and therefore find a finding a safe place within this short moment is vital.

Prof Drikakis said: "Additionally, there will be increased radiation levels, unsafe buildings, damaged power and gas lines, and fires.

"People should be concerned about all the above and seek immediate emergency assistance."

Of course, being near a nuclear bomb when it detonates isn’t a great place to be since anything within its vicinity gets vaporised.

While those who do survive the blast would have been exposed to radiation which can have serious effects on their health.

Airspeeds from the blast wave are also a danger since it is strong enough to lift people into the air and cause serious injury.

The researchers also hope their advice will never need to be followed. But noted that studying the impact could help prevent injuries - as well as guide rescue efforts.

Additional SWNS reporting by Mark Waghorn.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)