The most difficult part of writing this column has been to condense down everything I have learned into small, bite sized chunks, but when it comes to radiation, I think I have failed. Everyone wants to talk about nuclear bombs and EMP strikes, but getting someone to pay attention to what happens next is nearly impossible. Radiation, whether it be fallout from those initial nuclear strikes that may or may not happen, or from the nuclear plants that will melt down shortly after **whatever** burns down our current reality, will be a part of survival. If you are unprepared for it, you are going to die. I don’t see how I can make it more simple.
The mistake that I think everyone makes is that they think “the authorities” will report when radiation becomes a danger. This is not going to be the case. This past week was the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. And back in March we celebrated both the 37th anniversary of Three Mile Island nuclear disaster (in Pennsylvania), and the 5 year anniversary of Fukushima Daichi. In all of these cases, when the reactor exploded, the power companies denied that there was any threat to the public. And at least in the case of Three Mile Island, I don’t know that there was any malice involved. Nobody expects to have caused a disaster that requires people to evacuate. By the time people realize what they really did, it is too late.
Take an hour and a half and watch the documentary I have included below. You will see some of the almost impossible story that was inflicted on the people of Soviet Eastern Europe in 1986. They are still covering up the direct medical consequences, and to this day the dead, who built the concrete sarcophagus to contain the spewing volcano of radiation, are listed of dying of natural causes.
As an American, who still believes in American exceptionalism, it is easy to think that our “authorities” wouldn’t intentionally send people into harms way the way that the Russians did, but in that case, I can’t help you, and nobody can help you. I have Facebook friends who still live in my hometown in New Hampshire, and when I post a picture of a dog or a baby or a band they’ll comment, but when I talk about anything that conflicts with their reality, they do not. Good luck to all of you.
The second Youtube is a podcast of the Three Mile Island 37th Anniversary Edition of Nuclear Hotseat. The host, Libbe Halevy, happened to be one mile away from the plant at the time of the explosion, and did not evacuate until several days later because there was little perceived threat, and she didn’t have her own radiation meter. Her story is in the podcast.
High Level Radiation vs. Low Level
In several of my prior columns I have shown you inexpensive low level radiation meters, as cheap as $30. There is even an Iphone and Android app these days that will measure radiation using only the camera on your phone, though I haven’t tried it. “Low level radiation” doesn’t mean just a few clicks above background radiation. Low level meters will measure up to several times the dose of radiation we normally get in a year exposed within a minute. Nearly all consumer meters use Russian Geiger-Mueller tubes that came into the market following the Chernobyl disaster, and they are meant to measure ambient radiation after “the big one,” as well as articles and food that may have been contaminated.
During “the big one,” all of those meters will blank out. And I have to say, as a nugget of information, I don’t know that there is a more important one when it comes to long term survival after the collapse. Full disclosure – I have to admit that I didn’t even know this back when I wrote my first radiation article back in 2014, even though I had personally sent one of the yellow CDV meters in for calibration over a decade before. When I found the modern Geiger kits, using Russian surplus GM tubes, I thought I no longer needed the yellow meter. I was wrong.
All GM tubes saturate at a certain level of counts per minute. The most common tube in consumer meter is the Russian SBM-20, which saturates at under 150 millirads per hour. As just a comparison, the Nukalert keychain high level radiation detector in my video doesn’t even start chirping until 100 millirads per hour. Any nuclear disaster, bomb, EMP, is going to run well over 1 rad per hour.
This article was originally going to be on the Russian DP-5V and similar radiation detector. You’ll see them in the Chernobyl documentary, and as you can tell, I bought several of them. My thinking was that this could be a device that could compare to the $750 NukAlert ER, which I have reviewed in a past column. In theory, the DP-5V can measure both high level and low level radiation by employing two different types of GM tubes. For low level, it uses the SBM-20, but for high level it uses a unique GM tube called the Si-3bg (In the video I couldn’t remember the name.) This tube has a very high resistance to low level radiation, and it can measure up to 300 rads per hour. My previous article will explain Rads vs. Roentgens vs. Sieverts.
Technically you can plug this same tube into the electronics kits we covered in prior articles as well, but I haven’t tried it yet, though I do have some tubes. If you have already bought one of those kits, the smaller tube can be connected in with alligator clips, and since it is made to run at the same ~400 volts, it should be just a direct cold swap. The tubes are on Ebay and on numerous Russian websites for cheap. In theory, this should be an absolute cheapest method to measure high level radiation, but there is no guarantee that the electronics and chips in those kits can withstand any level of radiation, let alone super high.
Unfortunately though the DP-5V also seems great in theory, it is a flop for now. As I explained in the video, I didn’t get either of the two units I tested to register at all with a very strong (albeit still considered low level) Cesium 137 sample. So since you can’t get one of these machines shipped from Eastern Europe for less than about $125, I will not regard them as a serious consideration for your sparse prepping dollars. The machines are not made for a standard AA battery, and my attempts a mickey mousing a replacement didn’t work well at all. There used to be a guy on Ebay that made battery holders that held AA batteries, but I asked him and he doesn’t make them anymore. But more importantly, when I did get a successful circuit check, I couldn’t get my radiation source to register at all. I don’t know if perhaps the tubes were robbed out of the wands or what, and I don’t feel like taking them apart right now for what would be a curiosity at best.
What I can recommend, and have recommended before, is that you buy a Civil Defense meter and have it calibrated. Right now there are CDV-717s on Ebay for $40 with shipping. Those are the ones with the remote sensor. Recently there are also CDV-720 machines, that measure falling beta radiation in addition to gamma, available for as little as $27 shipped, and I had one of these (I paid $50) shipped to Shane Connor at KI4U.com for calibration, and it calibrated successfully. Just beware that you need to read the description fully on all of these units. There is a guy on there selling units that did not pass basic circuit tests for cheap.
Apparently Texas A&M university used to calibrate these meters. I found a CDV-720 on Ebay with a test sticker from 2002, which is after 911 and the creation of DHS, so I thought that was surprising. These days I have yet to find another service than Shane’s that has a registered CDV-794 source machine, and according to his website, their lab in Gonzales Texas is the only private operation in the US. The good news is that Shane is a genuine 100% guy. He is passionate about waking people up to the various aspects of nuclear survival, and like many gun nerds end up in the gun business, Shane figured out how to turn a nuke nerd into a business as well. He did sell me me my NukAlert ER at a discount, and he has calibrated a few meters for me at no charge, but we don’t get any kickbacks for anything that you guys might buy, which so far has been NOT MUCH lol. You can lead a horse to water…
Many of the meters on Ebay will come with CDV-742 “dosimeters.” To use these you need the zeroing machine, which is the CDV-750. Shane can check the calibration on these as well for $25. In an emergency situation, you could do the math to figure out your exposure, but a dosimeter definitely doesn’t hurt.
How much radiation is deadly? Under 200 Rads, you will most likely remain standing and you’ll be able to travel. Under 50 Rads and you probably will have no long term effects. Over 200 Rads and most likely you will develope radiation sickness, and you will most likely die.
The classic FEMA publication Radiation Safety in Shelters outlines most of what you need to know about surviving a radiation event. But you’ll never know if your shielding is working, or if you are being irradiated at all, unless you have a high level meter. You can also find that as a downloadable PDF, and some of my prior articles explain how radiation shielding works. Basically it all comes down to weight of material between you and the radiation. 1000 pounds of dirt shields the same as 1000 pounds of lead shields the same as 1000 pounds of water and 1000 pounds of feathers. The only material specifically superior as a radiation shield is called barite, or “bar,” and you can get it from your local drilling company. They use it as a counterweight on drill holes. I personally am radiation shelter challenged myself.
Note that when you look for CDV meters on Ebay, you’ll see the aforementioned survey meters, and also the CDV-700. This is just a regular GM tube Geiger counter, and they aren’t worth the premiums that people ask. My little kits will serve you better for less money, and the Russian consumer handhelds, like the Soeks, are much better.
The NukAlert keychain is the most practical replacement for a CDV meter, and you can carry it on you at all times. Using the chirps, the NukAlert is both a meter, and with some math, a simple dosimeter. Iif you count the chirps once the heavy radiation starts, there is a scale on the back that will tell you the approximate radiation level of gamma radiation. These units were calibrated at the factory, so they need no further service.
Compared to a CDV meter and calibration, the keychain is a nobrainer in a direct cost comparison. And as you can see in the video, I even bought another after I lost my first one. Getting the hell out of Dodge is going to be of utmost importance when the radiation comes, and I personally don’t think it will be a flash in the distance. It will be a small explosion after the nuclear plant employees run out of storage food and die.
As you’ll see in the video, I also have the $750 NukAlert ER. Since the DP-5v has turned out to be a dud so far, in my research it is the only radiation meter in the world that can measure both low level radiation and high level radiation, up to and over 600 Rads per hour, actually measured on the CDV-794 calibration machine. Shane Connor has been calibrating CDV meters for decades, and at some point he decided to develop a meter that would replace a high level survey meter, a low level Geiger counter, and a dosimeter. He used a technology called “time to first count,” and though it may sound complicated, it really isn’t. GM tubes saturate at a given level of radiation, but they aren’t like a banana that turned brown and will never be yellow again. If you turn them off and back on again, they start from zero. The time to first count technology simply resets the tube, and measures how quickly it comes back. Then an internal algorithm translates that to usable numbers on the screen. Computer chips are notorious for failing under strong radiological conditions (they still can’t make a robot that can see what is going on inside Fukushima), but the NukAlert ER has been measured at rates up to 1000 Rads per hour. Long before that rate of radiation you’ll be dead in seconds.
My first NukAlert actually died, as I explained in my last radiation video, but Shane guarantees them, and they replaced my unit. What happened with mine as that the batteries burst, and that boogered the meter. Apparently this was the first unit that did this, and I’m thinking it could be because I kept it in it’s travel case inside the plastic bag that it came in. Regardless, they stand behind the products, and will replace them on the rare occasions that they fail.
Power Plants – The Gift that Keeps on Giving
If you have read any of my prior radiation articles, most likely you have already purchased some potassium iodide (KI). It is still available on Amazon, but the price has come up since the nuclear threat in Brussels. Shane’s product, Thyrosafe, is available from his retailers for a little more. Potassium iodide fills up your thyroid gland with iodine so that your it will not absorb the iodine-131 radionuclide that is expelled from pretty much all nuclear events. Iodine-131 has an 8 day half life, so in two weeks it has moved on and is no longer dangerous. Poland gave their people KI after Chernobyl, and nobody got thyroid disease. All of the other surrounding countries delayed KI, and have had runaway epidemics of hypothyroid, and thyroid cancers.
But remember, they capped Chernobyl, and there was only one explosion. In the event of a worldwide collapse, nobody is going to be capping nuclear power plants, and most likely all of the reactors will blow. I think it is wise to stock up on KI, but you also need to move out of the hot zone where the radiation is falling, or at least be able to measure if your filtering is working. Beta radiation particles like Io-131 are heavy, and once they escape the clouds that move them around, tend to fall straight down.
Can I go outside? Should I put on my gas mask? (see my gas mask article) Is that cloud coming in full of radiation? You won’t know any of this unless you can measure it.
The first 48 hours after a nuclear explosion are the most crucial. There is over 100x less radiation out there after just two days believe it or not. But with power plant dangers, that cycle can repeat itself with every new reactor fire and explosion/expulsion.
Potassium iodide is probably the single most important asset for people who
a) Know they are in a hot zone and
b) Can leave.
Otherwise, stay indoors under cover, unless you can physically measure beta radiation that is falling outside. Periodically buy a supply of fresh batteries for your detector(s), and have some rechargeables and a solar charger on hand as well.
Alpha, Beta, Gamma, um Delta?
I think that a lot of people write off the radiation threat because they figure that if the world comes to that, they’re dead anyway. Radiation is complicated, but I’ve tried to boil things down as much as I can so that you can take action. These high level meters are primarily for gamma radiation, and some of them will pick up some beta as well. Most alpha radiation has a very short half life, and alpha particles are even heavier than beta particles, and they can be blocked by even one sheet of paper. My feeling is that if you are clear of gamma, you’ll be clear of beta particles too, because it isn’t like air can emit radiation. Gamma radiation comes from particles sources too, and most likely if there are clouds carrying radioactive iodine, it is also carrying particles with radioactive cesium, strontium, and dozens of other radionuclides in various states of decay. The whole thing is still somewhat confusing for me as well, but for me this is about boiling things out to what I can do, and what I can is buy and carry a radiation meter that won’t blank out if my local nuke plant melts down.
Shane wrote an article probably 30 years ago called The Good News About Nuclear Destruction, and he has updated it over the years as new data has become available. As I’ve said a few times in this column, I do not buy into the nuclear war scenario, and I don’t think that there is any good news about what is really coming. My perspective is that if there is a way to make it to whatever is coming next, I’d like to at least try. The elites have been buying real estate in nuclear power plant free New Zealand. Nuclear powered and/or armed ship are not even allowed to dock in New Zealand, or to even come into its territorial waters.
Gee I wonder why?
This is the story of Chernobyl:
Nuclear Hotseat Episode on Three Mile Island (very good)