So many of you probably heard about President Trump’s boast on Twitter to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that Trump has a bigger, better nuclear war button. Well, maybe it’s just coincidence, but the CDC announced just a few days ago that they are moving to prepare health professionals and others on what the public response would be if there was a nuclear detonation. The Centers for Disease Control call their public preparedness sessions “grand rounds.” The last time the CDC offered a grand round on nuclear war was in March 2010.

The latest nuclear grand round will target doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, pharmacists, veterinarians, certified health education specialists, laboratory scientists, and others. The event will be held January 16.

Personally, I’m planning for social breakdowns, electromagnetic attacks leaving the country without a power grid, or a massive earthquake or other natural disaster. Planning for a nuclear devastation seems out of my reach. And personally, I don’t feel that any doctor or nurse, no matter how dedicated they are to their profession, is going to forgo helping themselves or their own family if a massive emergency like that actually takes place. In other words, you’re on your own, IMHO.

But it doesn’t hurt to know what the experts recommend.

Planning for a nuclear detonation

Shelter in Place

First, the CDC recommends sheltering in place for at least the first 24 hours after the event. That step will reduce exposure to radiation. After that 24-hour period, federal, state and local agencies are supposed to mobilize their resources (yeah, right). Go as far underground as you can or into the center of a tall building. Find the nearest brick or concrete building and remain there.

Go Underground, the official preparedness government site, recommends having an underground area such as a basement to offer more protection from nuclear fallout than what most homes have on the first floor of a building.

Shield Yourself

Use heavy, dense material such as concrete, bricks, and earth. It even suggests using books as a shield? I’m sure they don’t mean holding your college copy of “War and Peace” over your head. But really, I guess that means a library is a good place to be?

If you are caught unawares of the nuclear explosion…

Lay Flat

Lay flat on the ground and cover your head. Stay down because it could take several seconds or more for the blast wave to hit. Once you feel that, take shelter immediately.

Clean Yourself

Wash your body and hair and remove the clothing that you were wearing. Interestingly, the recommendation is to avoid using hair conditioner because it will bind radioactive particles to your hair. Sorry ladies!

Place any contaminated clothing as far as away from your shelter as possible.

Stay Sheltered for Two Weeks

Radiation dissipates fairly quickly. says the fallout poses the most danger for the first two weeks. Look on the bright side, if you happen to be in a library when the bomb goes off, you’ll have lots of reading material. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end up like that episode of Twilight Zone where the guy finally has “All the Time in the World” to read and loses his eyeglasses.

Have an Emergency Kit

No matter what happens or whether you have a shelter or bunker or not, you’ll need food and water. Get it together now, before there’s an emergency. This site has numerous articles about what gear to get and what skills you need to survive nearly any scenario.


Did you know the CDC has stockpiled caches of nerve agent antidotes around the country? The CDC (Centers of Disease Control) states that if their nerve agent antidote is all in one place (like Washington, DC, for instance), that it would be too difficult to deploy the antidote in the event that there’s a need for a fast response.

The CHEMPACK antidotes treat the symptoms of nerve agent exposure. It works even if you do not know exactly what nerve agent is causing symptoms.

The antidotes must be administered quickly. The CDC keeps 1,960 containers that are available at the local level, strategically placed in more than 1,340 US cities. The government doesn’t make the exact locations for the Chempacks known. There’s little info available online that I can see that tells where they are.  Take a look at page 10 of this PDF I found and see what region you’re in:

If you want to know more about your particular state or county, start by looking at the state health department website. I had to do some digging, but I found a newsletter online that states, “Oregon is home to several CHEMPACK containers, which are strategically placed throughout the state.” That’s as much info on the location of the Chempacks that I could find. But, the CDC estimates more than 90% of the U.S. population is within one hour of a Chempack location. Do a little digging and see what you can find for your state. Call your local hospital or fire station and see if they will tell you if they have one or not.

On April 11, 2017, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to permit the emergency use of the 2 mg atropine auto-injector, manufactured by Rafa Laboratories, Ltd. On May 23, 2017, FDA amended the EUA to also permit the emergency use of pediatric strengths (i.e., 0.5 mg and 1 mg) of this atropine auto-injector. These products are included in Chempack containers located across the United States. This specific atropine auto-injector is authorized for the initial treatment of symptoms of known or suspected poisoning in individuals exposed to nerve agents or certain insecticides (organophosphorus and/or carbamate).

Pretty much all the online resources of Chempacks all link back to this one page:

Photo from First responders prepare for Chempack training.