Here’s What Will Happen If Someone Fires A Nuclear Bomb At The UK

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Recent tensions between North Korea and America has left many of us scared at the prospect of nuclear war.

A war of words between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has seen the two sides continually threaten each other, but is World War 3 around the corner?

North Korea claims it can reach the United States with a nuclear weapon following a series of recent tests and although it’s unlikely to happen, we wanted to know what would be the outcome if someone fired a nuclear bomb at the UK.

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Preparations

Multiple sources have suggested it would take minutes for a nuclear weapon to reach the UK from North Korea.

There isn’t much time to prepare for a blast then and it could be a challenge finding suitable cover in such short time?

However, the United States Department of Homeland Security advises on their website to look for any kind of shelter no matter how bad it looks as ‘any protection, however temporary, is better than none at all’.

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Where could we hide out?

If you need to hide make sure you pick a location which has thick walls and is as far away from the blast location as you can get.

Some tube stations fit this description – Hampstead for example is 192 feet below the surface and Aldwych, which hasn’t been used for years, is also deep underground with extra thick walls.

There are also secret bunkers dotted around the English countryside, which can be used, although civilians may not have immediate access to them.

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It’s not known whether any of these remain in London but if they do, they’re able to function as safe houses for figures of authority to use as bases.

They’re designed to prevent outside forces from entering in and theoretically could offer protection against radiation.

However citizens would be encouraged to build their own shelters instead – you’ve just got to hope there’s enough of an advanced warning.

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Blast radius

Let’s say a one megaton nuclear weapon hit central London… according to the Nuke Map website there would be a fireball radius of just under 1km but the impact goes beyond that distance.

The thermal radiation radius extends further encompassing an area of 466km² with those affected being at serious risk of third degree burns and permanent scarring.

Of course this is just for a one megaton bomb – the USSR’s Tsar Bomba was the largest nuclear weapon ever designed and would carry a fireball radius of 6.1km along with a radiation radius that stretches as far as Sussex and Bedfordshire.

This would be catastrophic, killing six million people and leaving a further six million injured.

Mass Evacuation

In 2015 the UK government released a document entitled ‘Nuclear Emergency Planning and Response Guidance’ which laid out the theoretical protocol for such an eventuality.

The document pointed to three potential emergency actions the public could take depending on how they had been affected.

For some they were merely advised to lock all doors and windows and take shelter.

The Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) will ultimately make the decision whether or not to evacuate and it will depend on whether the public are at risk of radioactive contamination.

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Emergency Broadcasting

Officially, the BBC is the UK’s ’emergency broadcaster’ and they have their own plans in place for a crisis.

Online and local radio coverage will take priority over television with social media also playing and important role.

In 2001 a pre-recorded message which was designed to be made public in the case of a nuclear attack was heard for the first time.

It said:

This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons.

Communications have been severely disrupted and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known.

We shall bring you further information as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

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Government

During the Cold War a ‘Central Government War Headquarters’ was established, but it was never used.

Located 120km underground in Wiltshire, it occupies 240 acres and includes a ‘virtual city’ which is self-sustaining.

In 2015 it was placed on Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ Register and it’s currently unclear how habitable the location is.

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Long-term Impact

In the ‘Nuclear Emergency Planning and Response Guidance’ document released in 2015, the Government explains what the long-term effect would be on public health.

It reads:

The first category is possible health effects due to the public being exposed to radioactive materials.

The second category is health effects not related to radiation exposure but occur instead as the result of stresses (mainly psychological but possibly also physical) the public experiences.

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Let’s just hope we don’t have to worry about nuclear war anytime soon.