As it falls from the sky it becomes "Black Rain" or more commonly known as Nuclear Fallout.
Radioactive dust from both a dirty bomb and nuclear weapon is dangerous to life on earth, including humans. High doses can kill, lower doses can result in internal injuries and cancers. Think of this nuclear fallout as poison -- poison from the sky, ground, vegetation and other objects in your environment. Everything that comes in contact with radiation becomes toxic to life -- and can remain toxic for several years.
As it makes it's way through the ground soil and into aquifers these can now be contaminated for several years, wrecking havoc on the local ecosystem.
Nuclear fallout isn't limited to the detonation of a nuclear weapon or meltdown of a nuclear power plant -- it also results from the detonation of a "dirty bomb".
A dirty bomb is an explosive device packed with radioactive material; when it explodes, it propels radioactive dust across an area. The bigger the bomb and the more radioactive material used in the bomb, the worse it becomes for people in the area.
What's alarming about dirty bombs is that they're relatively easy to make. The fact that we haven't seen any detonated yet in America (at the time of this writing) is a miracle.
But that time may be quickly heading our way.
Terrorists could shut down Wall Street indefinitely with just one dirty bomb. That's one reason why New York City has added several thousand radiation detectors throughout the city. It's not a perfect system though and we can be certain that a motivated terrorist organization will do anything it can to find a way to strike.
How easy would it be for terrorists to get their hands on shoulder fired missiles? Consider that Russia sold 1800 shoulder fired missiles to Venezuela, as reported in this 2010 article: Washington Post: Venezuela acquires 1,800 antiaircraft missiles from Russia
That's just one instance. Arms sales between Russia and Iran and Venezeula are common place. Why should Americans be alarmed by this? Because Iran is deeply entrenched in Venezuela, with regular flights between Iran and Venezuela. Iran we already know is suspected to be connected to 80% of the terrorist activity in the world. Cartels move drugs, people and weapons -- we can bet they can also move shoulder fired missiles.
With shoulder fired missiles, terrorists have the means to deliver multiple strikes on key cities -- even from several miles away.
Local military bases where troops would be dispatched should we suffer attacks on the homeland could be wiped out by low-yield nuclear weapons, before the alarm was even sounded that we were under attack.
People closest to the blasts are likely to die shortly after receiving high doses of radiation. People further out from the blasts, but still close enough to be reached by radiation, will start developing cancers in the coming months. Radiation is breathed down throats and into lungs; radiation lands on exposed skin and is absorbed into the body, settling into bones and tissue.
What they're doing now in both NYC and Washington D.C. is taking these scans for radiation a step further.
In New York City the police have been outfitted with thousands of radiation detectors as well as their own high-tech radiation detecting helicopter. This helicopter adds a second layer of detection as it can pick up radiation signatures by flying 200 feet over cargo. See: CBS: Radiation-spotting chopper is newest NYPD anti-terror weapon
These are costly moves and you can bet that Homeland Security wouldn't be taking these steps if there wasn't a real threat from terrorists striking with dirty bombs and even nuclear weapons.
President George W. Bush, just one month after the 9-1-1 attacks had been told by the CIA director that Al Qaeda was reported to have an atom bomb in New York City. That report turned out to be false -- but for a moment there you can imagine the fear that several people in government must have shared. The Times writes:
In late 2001, a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, the director of central intelligence told President George W. Bush of a secret warning that Al Qaeda had hidden an atom bomb in New York City. The report turned out to be false. But atomic jitters soared.
The only warning will be an incredibly bright white light -- a light that will blind you if you look directly at it -- then moments later the shockwave from the blast is going to hit.
Light travels faster than both sound and the shockwave from the explosion. And so you have only a second to notice the blinding white light outside and scramble for the nearest fixed location you can duck behind, covering your head and lying flat on the ground, advised by FEMA.
The explosion will be deafening. Some survivors will be permanently deaf, eardrums ruptured by the blast. If you're too close to the vicinity of the blast, even covering your ears with your hands won't help. Experts say to lie flat on the ground, head tilted sideways with one ear toward the ground and one of your arms covering your exposed eye.
FEMA's experts on nukes advise people in the general area of a nuclear attack to head inside immediately, to the center most areas of buildings, and deep into basements when possible, to try and put as many walls as possible between you and the nuclear radiation coming down as fallout and carried by the shockwave.
There's a chance though that you may not have a working radio. That's because a nuclear detonation creates an "electro magnetic pulse" which fries anything it comes in contact with that has electrical circuits.
Find something fixed to the ground and hide behind it quickly, such as a wall on the backside of a concrete building.
Lie flat on the ground and cover your head and continue to lay there for the next 30 seconds or so -- if a blast is far enough away it can take up to 30 seconds for the shockwave to reach your area.
Once that shockwave has reached your area, now it's time to seek shelter deep inside a building or basement as soon as possible. Know that even if you're hundreds of miles from the blast that prevailing winds can carry nuclear fallout and you are still in danger.
So even if you're a hundred or more miles from the blast, you'll still want to head inside and seek shelter.
Do you live within 50 - 100 miles from a major city like Los Angeles, NYC, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, or San Francisco? Study the prevailing winds in your area -- that will give you a good idea of just how far nuclear fallout can be carried and in what direction.
In the initial minutes though you are going to want to take shelter deep inside a building or your home, preferably in a basement, which you can immediately take steps to seal up, blocking outside air, which may be carrying nuclear dust in the next few minutes and hours.
In the coming days, when you emerge from your shelter, now it's time to evacuate the area -- as stated before, should you live in an area where prevailing winds will carry nuclear fallout from an attack on a nearby city.
In the initial evacuation, there are ways to protect yourself from radiation -- the cheapest way (with the most risk) is to layer yourself in clothing that you can shed once you're far from the area and past the fallout zone created by prevailing winds. Shed these clothes and simply dispose of them. Wear gloves as well, and layer towels, sheets, and even bandannas over your face. Finally, put on goggles, goggles that fit snugly on your face. Wrap your head in cellophane if you have to -- use strips of duct tape to seal any exposed seams between goggles and bandannas and gloves and sleeves.
Once out of these clothes, take a shower as soon as possible, using plenty of soap, to wash off any contamination that's on the skin.
Don't use conditioner -- conditioner can bind contamination to your hair.
You can build a make-shift suit using a much less expensive Hazmat suit made by companies like Dupont, but it will call for using duct tape to seal cracks between gloves and sleeves, boots and pants, hood and mask. See: Nuclear War Survival Skills (this is an ebook sold by OISM.org).
Note: These suits won't protect you if you're in a hot zone, where the most dangerous levels of radiation exist after a blast or meltdown. They do protect you from breathing in radioactive particles as well as from getting particles in your eyes or even in cuts in the skin.
When you take potassium iodide pills shortly after a nuclear attack, you reduce the risk of contracting an assortment of cancers from the high levels of radiation carried into the air, descending on distant cities and towns as nuclear fallout, even communities several hundreds of miles away, in the direction of prevailing winds. See: NRC.Gov / United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Facts about Potassium Iodide.
In Israel, cities live under a constant threat of attack by both nuclear weapons and dirty bombs. Increasingly, that threat is growing in America also.
What kind of steps should you take to prepare yourself and your family for a nuclear terrorist strike? That depends on where exactly you live and work, in relation to likely terrorist targets, such as America's largest cities.
Unfortunately though a terrorist strategy may include a few unlikely cities (like Kansas City, Missouri, Denver, Colorado, and even Omaha, Nebraska or Billings, Montana -- or other cities representing the American heartland). Remember, the goal of terrorists is to bring terror to America -- not just death and evacuations to major cities.
If they can strike us in the heartland, they're going to bring terror to a lot more places than just the East Coast and West Coast.
If you're an employer and your office faces the direction of a possible detonation, build an additional concrete wall on the inside or outside (if you're located on the ground floor) of the building. If a nuclear event ever takes place, instruct your employees to take shelter behind the wall, even if it's only 2-3 feet off the ground.
Build a radiation-proof room deep inside the center and even the basement of your building. If you have multiple floors, ensure that everyone has a way down to this center room. Store food, water, a radio, blankets, and other essentials to surviving for a few days (at the minimum 24 hours) while you wait for radiation levels to drop around the region. If your radio is working, and if there are news broadcasts, listen for instructions on evacuations.
Have extra clothing on hand, gloves, bandannas, goggles, duct tape so that as many of your employees as possible can have protective layering to wear during the evacuation -- with the instructions to dispose of their clothing in a sealed garbage bag once out of the area.
After a blast has taken place, seal basement windows in your building with bricks, plywood, newspaper, duct tape, and even a final layer of cellophane with edges taped around the perimeter of each window.
Finally, spend those first few hours encouraging your employees and/or co-workers that they can survive this. Discuss survival: Food, Water, Fire, Shelter, Evacuation, Re-building.
If you and your spouse work on opposite ends of a metropolitan area and your home is in a location that is likely to be contaminated by nuclear fallout, determine a distant town that the two of you can reconnect at -- knowing that cell phones and email may be a thing of the past (go over this with children also -- you may be able to go after a son while your spouse goes after a daughter -- after you've each rounded up children, then begin evacuation to that location you've chosen; it could be a relative's house in the suburbs for example).
Should that relative's house not work out, have a second and even third location (or town) in mind should the first one or two be unsafe. It's possible that soldiers acting on martial law will direct evacuations from the first location on your list and possibly even the second.
After those ten days have passed at Location A to then evacuate to Location B and wait an additional ten days. Or if Location A is unreachable (due to road blocks) to go straight to Location B.
Finally, if you fail to arrive at Location B, your spouse could then move on to Location C -- and once there wait as long as possible. Your spouse could write a note and put it in a jar or Zip-Loc bag and bury it in a relative's yard at a marked location on a map.
When you arrive finally, you could go that spot and dig up any note that had been left for you, telling you the condition of your spouse, children, and where they were going to next.
This way, if your spouse arrives at one of these locations before you, he or she can dig up a two way radio and leave the other two-way radio behind, re-buried and waiting for your arrival.
Have a specific channel (or channels) for communicating on and you greatly increase the chances of the two of you finding one another again -- should you live and work near a major metropolitan area that may be the target of a nuclear terrorist strike.
You can also give your children two way radios and extra batteries -- even your elderly parents could be outfitted with two-way radios.
Learn how to construct a simple, inexpensive "Faraday Cage" so that you can protect your two-way radios from the effects of an EMP. See: Communications After an EMP - Two Way Radios
Burying this cage 2 - 3 feet underground offers even more protection.