- Publication date
- CC0 1.0 Universal
- Rainbow Magazine
Fallout -- The Silent Killer
by Dan Mickle
Dan Mickle, who wrote this month's cover article, and Steve Lipps, who
wrote a number of the routines used in the listings which follow, were
both active in Civil Defense during the 1960s when fallout shelters
seemed to have their heyday. Dan is a self-professed survivalist,
while Steve describes himself as a "hacker and science fiction buff
who reads a lot of post- World War III fiction." The two, who operate
Circle City Software, of Indianapolis, have written such software as
Master Disk System, reviewed in last month's Rainbow.
The history of man contains one war after another. Thus, I find no
reason to believe another war is unthinkable, but rather, given the
nature of humans. I personally think it is inevitable. One can
conclude from information coming from the Soviet Union that they find
even the prospect of a nuclear war not only thinkable but winnable!
They have estimated that were they to strike first against us, they
would probably kill 90-95% of our population. In my opinion they must
feel that our retaliatory counterstrike would only affect a small
percentage of their people and perhaps 10 percent of their technology.
They have several reasons for such an estimate, but a prime reason is
that the Russian people have regular training and monthly scheduled
practice sessions of exactly what they will do if an attack comes.
Workers who labor at a certain factory would proceed directly to that
factory (unless they were already at work) and begin sand-bagging
their machine. They are responsible for the safety of that machine.
Factories are built decentralized, with separate buildings far enough
apart that if one building takes a direct hit. Other buildings might
suffer minimal damage.
Many Americans take a fatalistic outlook at the next big war. "When
it comes, we'll all be killed anyway!" can be heard from many people.
Yet, while the initial explosions would kill a lot of people, the
radiation which follows would result in many times as many deaths. If
our people knew how to protect themselves against the invisible
killer, perhaps not as many would die.
My analogy to the fatalistic approach is walking dow n the middle of a
highway, and stating that you don't need to watch out for traffic,
because when a large truck hits you, you will be dead
anyway... ridiculous! Obviously a truck need not hit you if you know
enough to get to the side of the road and to watch out for trucks and
jump out of the way in time.
Fallout radiation need not kill you if you know to "jump out of the
way" (seek shelter) in time. The Fallout program and this article do
not constitute a complete training course on how to live through war,
but I hope this information will help a few more survive, should war
come. The information is as factual as I can make it, and is based on
material from the U.S. Government Printing Office at Washington. D C.
should you wish further information. The first listing is the heart
of the fallout prediction program, and will run on any 16K extended or
disk-extended system. If you have a printer, the program gives you
the option of using that printer for your output device. NOTE: Since
this is a "high priority" program, the printer utilities patch
themselves in and overwrite any other routines you may have residing
in high memory. The second part of the program may be MERGEd in if
you have 32K of memory. It is not an essential part of the program.
It is only a high-res drawing of the "cigar shape" of a fallout
pattern as a reminder. For those who do not have the time to punch in
the program from this listing, the Fallout program is available
through Rainbow On Tape.
If our country were attacked, the enemy would be trying to destroy the
United States as a world power. This means that their primary targets
would be our military bases, and our nation’s capitol. However, many
military bases exist near large cities, so those would suffer the same
as the primary targets. The larger cities are targeted anyway, due to
factories and plants which can be easily converted to wartime
equipment production, or natural port areas for staging
counterstrikes. Claiming the inaccuracy of enemy targeting computers
and rocket control interfaces, it is estimated by some that their
bombs may strike many miles from the intended target, through
over/undershot. Important targets will get more than one bomb, but
even then the unknown element of warhead "fratricide" (a theory
stating that the first explosion might destroy the electronics of
others in the same area) may spare millions.
YOU ARE ALIVE. The wave of missiles has gone off, and you survived
the searing heat of the fireball. What's next? Shock-wave! The
shock travels at the speed of sound outward from the blast, just as
thunder follows lightning. It will hit like an extremely powerful
earthquake causing buildings within several miles of the blast to be
leveled, and lesser damage like shattered windows twenty or more miles
out. The initial blast also spreads radiation outward a distance
equal to the crosswind value. You will see that if you have a wind
speed of zero, the upwind and crosswind values are the same and the
fallout would eventually settle in a circle no greater than the
maximum width value. In reality, terrain and other features in your
area will affect how large a dose you can expect. A hill sitting
between you and the blast will act as a natural barrier which could
save your life.
For the sake of an example, let us imagine that a nuclear bomb has
just gone off 25 miles away to the north. You were asleep in your
bedroom. Your curtains could have just caught fire, but you were not
directly in line with the heat from the fireball. You have a choice
which depends a lot upon your exact situation at the time. Pull the
blankets and covers completely over you head, then you may: 1) stay
where you are, 2) crawl to a closet, closing the door, 3) crawl under
the bed (not likely for most adults), 4) keeping the covers over you,
push up the mattress and crawl under it (not likely for children), 5)
if a cellar door is near your bed, crawl there. Roughly calculating
the shockwave at five seconds per mile, you figure you have two
minutes before the shockwave hits, and things fall in on you. This is
the main reason to crawl quickly to the closest place of relative
safety. The bathtub, perhaps? If you were outside in the open, a
culvert or even a ditch or shallow depression might protect you from
the blast. The fireball would probably still be going on when the
shocks hit. A ground shock would come first, followed by the
air-shock, because a shockwave travels faster through solid objects
Since there would be no electricity to power your Color Computer, you
should commit the tables to memory, or at least to paper. You know
that the normal wind in your area blows east, going back to the
example, and that you are south of the blast. You will be able to
guesstimate a 10 megaton blast based on the severity of the blast at
this distance (severe, but you made it) and you will know that you are
probably now getting in the neighborhood of 50 roentgens per hour. A
dosage of 450 roentgens will kill 50 percent of the people exposed to
that much. Since radiation is cumulative, you will reach that level
in nine hours of exposure, and it will be a slow painful death.
However, according to goverment figures, every three inches of earth
you can put between you and the radiation will cut the level in half.
Let us say your house is still relatively intact. If you are going to
rush going outside to shovel dirt over cellar windows, or up around
the foundation, do it now. Grab a rubber raincoat or other easily
brushed-off article of clothing. If you don't have a hood, you might
tie a plastic trashbag over your head to keep the dust from settling
directly on you. Tie a scarf or towel over your mouth. SPEED IS
ESSENTIAL. You may not be able to draw any water if the pipes were
damaged, so you can't wet the rag, but you may have stocked the cellar
with a few plastic jugs of drinking water. Stay outside for as short
a time as possible, but try to seal up any major cracks which will let
the dust in directly. Inside the house, drag mattresses and furniture
over the spot you will be staying or around a closet, etc. Get into
your shelter, breathe through clean towels or clothing, and stay there
as long as possible. Remember that the wind could have shifted,
putting you into the heart of the hot (3000+ roentgen) zone in which
10 to 12 minutes of exposure can be enough to kill you. Since the
fallout is carried by the air (wind) after the initial blast, the
radiation level which started at about 50 in this example, could be
100 within a half hour, 300 within an hour, 1000 within an hour and a
half, and 3000 in two hours.
You can see that what you do in the first few minutes might save your
life. Even if you are directly in the path of the hottest radiation
zone, it could take a couple hours or more to build up to that level.
The radiation level drops off rapidly with time. The 3000 roentgen
level will only last seven to eight hours after the blast for a 10
megaton size or 24 hours for a 50 megaton bomb. For a 10 megaton
blast the radiation will have dropped below 100 again in about 36
hours, but for the largest bombs this will take five days. If you
were that close to a 50 megaton blast (25 miles) you would likely be
dead from burns, or at least blinded. A 50 megaton blast can cause
flash burns and blindness to 50 miles away. Several smaller bombs
saturating an area could give the same effect.
You should try to stay in your shelter for two weeks at least but
three would be better. If you must come out for any reason, wait as
long as you can before going out, bundle up as though going into a
blizzard, stay out not one second longer than you have to. Remove the
outside clothes and leave them near the door (as far as you can away
from you). Don't forget boots and covering your mouth.
Those victims of the initial blast still living may have broken bones,
burns, or blindness. Splint broken bones using a stick, leg of a
chair, etc., and tape or rags, getting them as straight as possible.
Burns should be rinsed if water is available, then treat as any norma!
burn, giving aspirins or any other available medicines to cut the
pain. If a victim has been blinded, especially if there are no
serious burns around the eyes, keep the eyes covered for several days,
checking occasionally whether sight has returned. Such blindness
could be temporary if the person is given time to recuperate.
Victims of radiation will experience varying degrees of nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and even coughing up blood. Radiation
first attacks the body's immune system, so germs that already exist in
your body can make you very sick. Make the patient as comfortable as
(Mr. Mickle is one the the owners of Circle City Software and has been
interested in the question of nuclear war for some years.)
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