10 Must Have Items For Your Nuclear Survival

Do you remember the nuclear raid drills from grade school? Do you remember wondering how sitting there on the floor wondering how curling up like that could possibly save you from a nuclear explosion?

If so, then perhaps those feeble (but not necessarily wrong) teachings have led you to minimize or not think about facing a nuclear crisis. This has led to a situation where preppers and non-preppers alike turn a blind eye to all kinds of nuclear hazards.

In fact, you may be living in the middle of a nuclear crisis right now and not even realize it because you have been lulled into a false sense of security.

Different nuclear incident types dictate taking some different paths to long term survival. While it will still be a matter of luck in terms of how close you are from an incident site, there are still some things to keep on hand for your long term survival.

Be sure to include in your stockpile the 10 “must have” items that you see below!

And always remember to “nuke proof” all supplies as much as possible so that you don’t wind up having to discard them in a time of need.

Radiation Detectors

Even though our society and government structure still try to appear functional, the fact of the matter is nuclear radiation and contamination are far more prevalent than most people suspect.

Make the following detectors part of your bug out kit, and learn as much as possible about the levels of radiation you and your family are already being exposed to. Here are four detector types that you should have on hand:

1. Geiger Counter and Related Devices

Most Geiger counters will measure gamma rays and x-rays, but not alpha and beta particles. There are many different styles of Geiger counters. This includes ones with dials as well as tiny devices that can fit on a keychain, or Geiger counters that attach to a smart phone or computer, and then use the device screen to deliver readings.

When purchasing a Geiger counter, you may want to try the smaller, cheaper, electronics based ones for daily use or for getting acquainted with nuclear radiation readings. When it comes to a Geiger counter that will work during an EMP, look for older designs that don’t necessarily rely on modern electronic parts.

2. Kearny Fallout Meter (KFMs)

This is actually one of the cheapest and most reliable meters that you can keep on hand to detect nuclear radiation as a matter of daily living as well as during a crisis. KFMs can be made from items as simple as aluminum foil, a baby food jar, some wax, and a desiccant.

This device relies on static electricity to keep aluminum foil leaves apart within a sealed jar. If x-rays or Gamma rays pass through the jar, they will cause the pieces of foil to get closer together. KFMs are ideal for windowsills facing power plants as well as in any other direction where you suspect sporadic or even constant amounts of radiation may be coming in from.

As you gain experience with making these meters, you can also try to fit them into watch casings or other small footprint chambers that will make them easier to carry and use as you travel from one place to another.

3. Dosimeter

These devices are usually much smaller than Geiger counters. One part is usually worn, while another part is composed of a wand that samples the surrounding air. While dosimeters are very lightweight and easy to use, they can easily be destroyed by an EMP blast.

In addition, the badge part may only be useful for one year, thus they will need constant replacing. But they are highly accurate and you can use them while you are building and finding ways to test KFMs.

4. Rad Stickers or Badges

These badges are designed to be worn and will only be useful for about a year. As with the dosimeters, they are very easy to read and carry around, much easier to conceal than KFMs or Geiger counters.

They are also especially useful if you want to make sure that your KFM readings are accurate. If you suspect a radiation cover-up in your local community, streaming pictures of this one badge can easily be the best way to get the information out to the public.


Cellular Radiation Shields

Contrary to popular belief, there are vitamins, supplements and various food additives that can protect your cells from some forms of radiation. While some of this information remains controversial, you will find a good bit of new information in the area of cancer research. Today, many oncologists are recommending the use of certain vitamins in conjunction with radiation therapy to help limit the amount of damage to surrounding healthy cells, and even though these “shields” may not offer 100% protection, it is better than nothing.

Potassium Iodide Tablets

Potassium Iodide tablets are very important to keep on hand, as these tablets are suitable for your age and weight. Purchasing or obtaining them is not as simple as you might think.

Both children and adults can easily be poisoned by the wrong dosage amounts, so you should not take these tablets unless it is absolutely necessary as they can do long term damage to the thyroid.

If you are serious about preventing radiation damage to the thyroid, then you are better off using iodized salt or Himalayan salt. The iodine in these salts will quickly be taken in by your thyroid and also protect it from a range of toxic chemicals including bromine and fluoride.

Since these toxins are far more prevalent in the food and environment these days, you will actually be well served by increasing iodine intake to the recommended daily allowance levels. Do not exceed this level as you can also do more harm than good with excess iodine intake.

Antioxidant Shielding – The Controversy

Not so long ago, doctors and researchers emphatically claimed that Vitamin C in large doses actually shielded malignant cells from radiation and chemotherapy, while others found that certain vitamins actually shield healthy cells from radiation, and therefore reduce its impact and side effects on the body.

At the current time, the NIH has gathered a number of these studies together and arrived at the conclusion that some vitamins are beneficial during radiation treatment because they can help shield healthy cells. While they do not specifically address staving off radiation sickness, it is still possible these vitamins may be of use during a nuclear crisis. You would need to start taking suitable doses as soon as possible during or after the event to get the most benefit.

Vitamins E

Some researchers have found that Vitamin E successfully protects from radiation delivered to the pelvic area.

When combined with Pentoxil (a drug used to treat peripheral artery disease), Vitamin E can actually reverse some of the damage caused by radiation.

Pentoxil is from the same family of chemicals as caffeine; however there are no studies available to indicate whether caffeine can help protect from radiation damage. In fact, it is often said that caffeine will actually do more harm than good if you have been exposed to radiation.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C reduces radiation sickness in people receiving pelvic radiation treatments. It is also well established that people in Japan that survived the Fukushima incident fared much better when they took larger doses of Vitamin C. In fact, workers that tried to avert further disaster in Fukushima that received high doses of Vitamin C before going into the radioactive area had lower incidences of DNA damage and blood related disorders. By contrast, those that received Vitamin C after being exposed to the radiation did not have as much protection from the radiation.


Probiotics are “good bacteria” that live in your intestines, and are responsible for helping your body absorb water and nutrients. They also help fight off bad bacteria that can do serious damage to the lining of your intestines, and trigger the kinds of inflammatory immune responses commonly found in rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders.

Today, probiotics are becoming more important to doctors, researchers, and patients because they can help manage everything from rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes and a whole host of immune related disorders. It stands to reason that when you are exposed to radiation, the good bacteria in your intestines may also be killed off.

Some doctors today recommend using probiotics to help manage diarrhea and other digestive complaints caused by radiation treatment. Therefore, these supplements may also be of some help in the days, weeks, and months after radiation exposure.

For survival needs, choose the broadest range probiotics on the market. Remember that even if you start taking them now, you will still need to replace good bacteria after being exposed to nuclear contamination.

Since radiation effects can show up months after the initial exposure, you should keep enough probiotics on hand to last for at least one year. It will also be of help to consume foods such as live culture yogurt, ginger beer, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut as they all have natural probiotics in them. Ginger is one of the best herbal remedies for nausea and may help with one of the earliest and most distressing signs of radiation poisoning.

Other Natural, Herbal and Vitamin Based Cellular Shields

In general, radiation does damage to the cells by triggering oxidation (think of rusting in metal) processes that prevent the cell from carrying out normal functions. On the other side of the equation, antioxidants bind to the exact free radicals that radiation uses to cause damage to the cells.

If you use antioxidants, it is well known that they can interfere with radiation therapies for cancer. While this may be a bad thing if you are trying to get rid of malignant cells using radiation and certain chemotherapy agents, it may just turn out to be a good thing if you are trying to protect healthy cells from the nuclear radiation and fallout.

When it comes to choosing the best antioxidants, there is no such thing as one herb or vitamin that will cover the entire body. Nevertheless, some herbs that are known to inhibit radiation damage include:

  • Milk Thistle
  • Green Tea
  • Ginseng
  • Calendula
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Aloe Vera – it can also be taken internally for digestive issues. While it may not prevent radiation damage, it may still help with radiation sickness.
  • DMSO (Dimethysulfoxide) – this sulfur bearing molecule is relatively new on the market and was found useful in Fukushima. It can be obtained naturally by consuming garlic, broccoli, onion, eggs, and meat, but any food that is high in sulfur content is also likely to have some DMSO in it.

Some antioxidants work in some tissues while they may not be absorbed by other tissues at all. In addition, you may need “adjuvants” or additional herbs and vitamins to get the antioxidant into the targeted cells.

For example, it is well known that turmeric alone will not necessarily prevent tumor formation. Instead, it needs to be combined with crushed black pepper and olive oil to be successfully absorbed into the body.

It is very important to do as much research as you can on the best antioxidants so that you can create a viable cell shield. Even if you use these methods, there is still no substitute for staying away from, or getting as far away as you can from the source of the radiation. When choosing antioxidants for shielding purposes, follow these questions to help you find the best ones:

  • Is the herb or vitamin recommended for use during radiation therapy? If so, what body parts is it supposed to reduce symptoms in?
  • Is the herb or mineral listed as one that may interfere with radiation therapy? If so, does the herb or vitamin also absorb readily into healthy cells, and does it also shield them from toxic radiation effects? If it does not; are there secondary vitamins that will increase absorption. For example, some research indicates that smokers who consume large quantities of Vitamin A are more inclined to develop lung cancer. A vitamin that increases antioxidant uptake in healthy cells may be an ideal radiation shield.
  • What are the overall side effects of the herb or vitamin?
  • Can the herb be readily grown in a crisis situation?
  • How is the herb refined and what is the best way to get benefit from it?
  • What other therapies does the herb interfere with? Are you on these medications, and if so, what alternatives might enable you to take radiation shielding herbs and vitamins?
  • Evaluate the source of the herb, vitamin, or food source. While many sites say that sea vegetables can help reduce radiation uptake, never forget that the oceans are full of leaking barrels of radioactive waste. There are other alternatives that you can grow on your own and thus avoid heavy metal and nuclear contamination commonly found in the oceans. Needless to say, as the cost and complexity associated with marine aquariums goes down, you can also try growing sea vegetables in home based tanks and then store excess extracts away for later use.
  • As always, talk to your doctor and ask about herbal remedies. If the doctor doesn’t recommend them, ask point blank how much this person actually knows about the treatments in question. Bring in data from the NIH and scientific journals to see if the doctor has read them or is familiar with them. Never be afraid to demand answers and be sure that they are rational ones. If you cannot get a viable answer based on reason and modern research, seek help from a licensed herbal specialist or a medical practitioner that specializes in holistic healing. This includes ones that specialize in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines since many herbs used in these cultures have been successfully used to treat or prevent cancer; and may have the exact anti-oxidant affects you are looking for.

Right Clothing and Other Garments

As you may be aware, there are four basic kinds of radiation that you will need to be wary of when trying to survive a nuclear crisis. Alpha and Beta radiation are both easily stopped by your garments.

If you are traveling in an area with known nuclear materials, it is very important to keep your body covered as much as possible. Ideally, you should also wear white, light colors, or foil since they will help you stay cooler and will also help repel intense heat from an actual nuclear blast.

X-ray (and Possibly Gamma Ray) Blockers

It is a well-known fact that X-rays have a difficult time penetrating bone. Nevertheless, bone marrow can still be damaged by X-rays and also Gamma rays, so making something of an “exoskeleton” from bone may be of some use.

As anyone that has taken a mammogram knows, X-rays can also be partially blocked by certain perfumes, baby powder, and deodorants, so you may want to saturate white bed sheets and other covering materials with these chemicals. Even if it doesn’t create a perfect shield against these radiations, it may just put the odds in your favor when combined with other shields.

Breathing Masks and Respirators

Even though your skin and clothes will block Alpha and Beta particles, they can still be inhaled and swallowed right along with dust and debris from a nuclear incident. These energy particles can do enormous amounts of damage to your mouth, lung tissue, and other organs, so it is extremely important to keep your nose and mouth covered during and after a nuclear blast.

If you have nothing else, even a paper towel doused in perfume or slathered in deodorant could block out most of the radiation. Just make sure that the perfume or deodorant are on the outer layer of the mask so that you breathe as little of them in as well. Ideally, you should have a full face respirator with enough tank oxygen to last at least 48 hours.

Water Purifiers

No matter whether you are just a few minutes past a nuclear incident, preparing to leave your first shelter, or several months into a survival scenario, you will need water that is free of nuclear contamination.

As with heavy metals, you cannot simply boil water and hope to get rid of the radioactive debris, but with the exception of Tritium, distilling the water will get rid of most contamination. There are some filtration materials that can trap nuclear particles as water passes through them, and they include:

  • Boron – it should be noted that boron is also used to help remove radiation from milk and other foods.
  • Borax
  • Activated charcoal
  • Bone char
  • Reverse osmosis systems paired with activated carbon
  • Ion exchangers

Food Storage Systems

Overall, the best place to store food during a nuclear crisis will be underground in a lead lined bunker. Unfortunately, as water carrying radioactive debris seeps into the Earth, it will contaminate everything in its path, and even several feet of dirt over your head will be of little use if there is a leak in the roof.

Lead is about the only material that can reliably stop most gamma radiation, and thus afford some protection on a long term basis. You should also keep plenty of boron on hand so that you can cleanse any and all foods before consuming them.

Air Cleaner Systems

You will most likely need reliable gas masks for several months after a nuclear crisis. If you do have an air filtration system, make sure that the filters can remove even the smallest particles. For example, you can purchase filters for your heating system that are specifically made to filter out all kinds of allergens.

Since these also offer the most particle removing power, they might be good to add to an air cleaning system. You will also need plenty of activated carbon to remove as much radiation as possible.

Alternatives for Food Production

Many people are under the mistaken belief that they can go back to living a somewhat normal life as soon as news comes that the worst of the radiation is gone. While you may be not be exposed to as much radiation, it may not be truly safe to grow food let alone hunt game or fish in these areas.

If your homestead was affected by the nuclear fallout, try growing conifers and mushrooms that are known to absorb radiation from the soil. From there, you can pull up the mushrooms and dispose of them in an underground storage location.

Just remember that it can take decades before the soil is suitable for growing crops, and during that time, radioactive debris from other locations can easily contaminate the area all over again. Continue treating the soil and use radiation detecting devices to monitor progress.

Chances are, you will need to grow food underground using hydroponics. If you do not have a lead lined cave or dwelling, then be sure to grow mushrooms overhead so that you can get rid of radioactive contamination as quickly as possible.

You may also want to try and line ceilings and walls with boron so that radiation will be absorbed by it before reaching the interior. Always keep a few KFM devices on hand and active so that you can detect the presence of gamma rays as soon as possible.

Soaps and Cleaners

You are best served by using the simplest soaps possible. Lye soap is a good choice because it doesn’t contain any oils or other additives that would prevent nuclear contaminated debris from being washed away.

Once you are done washing, you can always follow up with oils and conditioners as long as you are certain that the surrounding environment is relatively free of radiation. Dispose of all contaminated clothes and other materials as far away as possible from your homestead.

At the current time, there are no viable ways to simply take a radioactive atom and break it down to ones that will not emit dangerous radiation. On the other hand, you won’t have months, let alone thousands of years to wait for these atoms to break down on their own.

Therefore, you will need to store away medicines, clothes, foods, cleaners, and meters that will help you detect the presence of radiation so that you can reduce its effects as much as possible. At the very least, even if you are exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, you will stand a better chance of reducing illness and being able to go about meeting other survival needs.

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Written by

Carmela Tyrrell is committed to off gridding for survival and every day life. She is currently working on combining vertical container gardening with hydroponics. Tyrrell is also exploring ways to integrate magnetic and solar power generation methods. On any given day, her husband and six cats give thanks that she has not yet blown up the house. You can send Carmela a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
    • rE not growing food in contaminated soil. I don’t know if we’re talking apples and oranges here, but how do the women who still live around chernobyl and garden in that soil survive any radiation poisoning? They seem to be in good health other than being quite old.

  • Dear Mrs. Tyrell, Thank you VERY much for your research and and for this handy list of survival measures. I feel sorry for those who do not have this information or the supplies and equipment when the need arises.

    Joe Scott, Ph.D.
    Germanic Languages and Literatures

  • Radiation is in the air as a dust rather than a gas so filtering the air is important. One cheap way to do it is duct tape a hepa furnace filter to the back of a box fan. Hepa furnace filters come in 20X20 just the right size for a box fan and a lot less expensive than the filters for air filters
    Ive read that adding potassium to growing vegetables will cause them to absorb less radiation.

    • Wish I would’ve read this sooner, I already ordered an air filter hahaha.

  • Potassium iodine tablets are readily available from Life Extension Foundation (LEF.COM). They are packaged specifically for storage in case of a nuclear event, and they are inexpensive. This company in my opinion is THE best source of dietary supplements. Their nine a day (three, TID) Life Extension Mix multivitamins are amazing. The company sponsors research, and they take great care in the molecular formulations of the products they sell both in terms of efficacy in intended use, and in availability and duration in blood plasma. If one searches on their website for a specific supplement or condition one will first find reference to the products on sale, but if you scroll down you will normally find a dozen or so abstracts of relevant and current university studies. Their magazine, “Life Extension,” is available on-line at their site and is usually quite informative. Hope you find this useful.

  • In a pinch you can ingest drops of providone iodine which can also be used to purify questionable water.
    Don’t forget to keep some calcium bentonite clay on hand.
    Early nuclear scientists used to coat themselves with it before they put on protective clothing to handle radioactive materials. It can be purchased from winemaking suppliers or you can get Red Earth from the livestock feed store. That one comes mixed with diotomaceous earth.

  • ~3 radioisotopes that pose most of the danger to humans

    “nuclear power plant meltdown (or the more likely danger caused by overheating of spent fuel rods in unprotected cooling ponds), there are three radioisotopes that pose most of the danger to humans”:


    1. radioactive iodine.

    =Take Potassium iodide tablets.

    ~(Potassium iodide tablets are readily available that can saturate the body with iodine and prevent most of the absorption of radioactive iodine in the human body).

    2. cesium-137 (as well as cesium-134).

    =Pharmaceutical grade Prussian Blue

    ~~(Do not use any kind of Prussian Blue that is not made for human consumption, or you are likely to just make yourself sicker.)



    ~(taking too much potassium can be dangerous, or even fatal).
    (A potassium intake that overloads the body’s regulatory system can result in heart rhythm problems that can be fatal).
    ~freeze-dried banana slices in cans are readily available from nearly any company that sells freeze-dried foods for long-term storage.
    ~Bananas have a large amount of potassium (as do some other foods), but the human digestive system cannot absorb the potassium from bananas too rapidly. So potassium overload from bananas is very rare

    3. radioisotope that is a significant problem after severe reactor accidents is strontium-90.

    =taking adequate calcium.
    =natural (non-radioactive) strontium.

    ~( natural strontium is available as a nutritional supplement, usually as strontium citrate).

    • Thank you for listing source info. I have complained to Carmel (before) about not citing references; and my mention of it again represents my ongoing complaint. When Carmel or anyone else doesn’t provide references,
      “those people” don’t want readers to think for themselves, and they also don’t want (in a general sense) feedback about other alternatives. My complaint is that–since when does one person know every aspect of any subject that may come up for review or discussion? In every industry and profession there are people who discuss all sorts of hypotheses about different aspects of any matter of discussion. Carmella wants to spoon feed babies; and though I will admit that she knows more about may things than I do; on the other hand I do resent that she wants me to be a baby ALWAYS. And the proof is that she won’t type in footnotes to references, or just citing references, or just citing document sources.
      Radarphos. Frustrated, though also appreciative for new or additional info.

  • Another excellent Article Mrs. Tyrell!
    May these additional comments add to your fine works.
    Nuclear War Survival Skills
    Updated and Expanded
    1987 Edition
    Cresson H. Kearny


    ~Make hard copies of this free E-Book A.S.A.P.! (Even better, buy the book)!

    ~(E.F.S.)-Expedient Fallout Shelters!
    Gather the basic Tools and Building materials NOW!!!

    ~STUDY IT!
    How to make the (K.F.M.)-Kearny Fallout Meter


    ~Pre-make one NOW!
    K.A.P.)-Kearny Air Pump
    “is a practical, do- it-yourself device for pumping adequate volumes of cooling air through shelters with minimum work”.


    Pre-make NOW!!
    Another excellent Site

    Antioxidants for Radiation




  • One of the most useless articles I have seen on the topic. Several Examples:
    1. Total failure to even mention the 3 most important aspects of nuclear defense, Time, Distance, and Shielding.
    2. The Effects Table makes no distinction between Acute and Chronic exposure and there is no real discussion on Acute and Chronic symptoms.
    3. Herbs, Vitamins, Potions, and Lotions, might be useful in cancer treatments but when who body exposures are the problem? Please give it a break.

    • Ron,


      Thankyou for your feedback. This article is part of a series and was designed to focus only on items to have on hand; not how to get out of an area, timing sequences, and radiation levels. All of the points you brought up are addressed in other articles where I could put more attention on each factor. Example – simply running “away” doesn’t do much good if you don’t know where the wind currents will deliver debris; nor does running make much sense if you have better shelter than in your current area. (BTW – I was very surprised at the updated recommendations on this last one…)

      In addition – no matter whether you decide to “stay or go” after a nuclear event; the fact of the matter is cellular shielding is critical; and both clinical radiation guidelines and research on Fukushima survivors are rewriting the old thoughts on this particular issue. I hope that as the other articles come out you will follow along to see if all your points are answered.

  • These survival tips were interesting. It makes sense that radiation and contamination are more prevalent than many people think. That’s why I think it’s good to be prepared and try to stay informed.