Cold War Advice: Fact or Fiction?
As current events become more and more tense, it felt appropriate to look back at advice from the Cold War regarding nuclear war.
Advice/Myth 1, Duck and Cover. Mixed. This advice is always sound when explosives are in play, but it is questionable when those explosives are nuclear. Anywhere inside the blast radius, this advice is pointless. It is equally pointless up to several miles out without proper cover. Without solid matter between you and the blast, Gamma radiation causes excruciating burns which can be fatal. Behind the right cover, one could be trapped under debris or in a fire.
Advice/Myth 2, if the mushroom cloud is smaller than your thumb at arm's length, you are safe. True. At that distance, you are beyond harmful radiation spread and the blast, although you can still be blinded by the flash if looking in the general direction of the blast.
Advice/Myth 3, consuming alcohol will reduce radiation poisoning. False. Vodka was provided to victims of Chernobyl because it was a cheap, plentiful, pain reliever and would mask several of the symptoms of radiation poisoning. It had no antidote effects.
Advice/Myth 4, open your mouth. True. Although it is best to cover your mouth with cloth to prevent dust or debris entering your mouth, opening it has the same effect as opening windows during a tornado: allowing air pressure to seek equilibrium easier. In this case, it can prevent your eyes and ears from damage by the concussive blast.
Advice/Myth 5, shelter in place. False. Although it is better to stay in a safe location as long as possible, if you are in the open or near the blast area, it is better to escape the immediate vicinity of Ground Zero to avoid fatal radiation and the raging atomic fires. This radiation will, for the most part, be less than fatal by the 24 hour mark.
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