As a kid, the threat of nuclear war was a very real. One of the reasons I chose to go to NBC School while in the military was due to my interest in learning how to survive it as a teenager, and realizing that whatever I may have learned as a civilian, I could probably learn a lot more in the military. At one point I served as a Battalion NBC NCO, and assisted in the planning and conducting of battalion level training events.
Although there are a lot of resources out there, the book Nuclear War Survival Skills is still one of the best and most practical. Although a lot of people believe you need a military NBC suit to survive fallout, in actuality, a standard rubber rainsuit will protect you just as well. The military NBC suit is more for the chemicals in a chemical attack than the nuclear radiation threat. You cannot survive in a high radiation dose area simply by what you are wearing. Wearing a protective suit is to help keep the fallout off of your clothing, keep it off your skin, and to make a barrier that is easily decontaminated (decontaminate by hosing or brush off the fallout). Below is a rainsuit on the left, and an military NBC suit on the right.
Besides the mask you wear to keep from inhaling radioactive debris, the other accessories you need are gauntlet type gloves and some type of over boot. Both of these items need to be able to be easily decontaminated like the suit you’re wearing, and heavy rubber seams to be the best material for that.
Last but most definitely the most important part of personal nuclear apparel is the mask. The purpose of the mask is primarily to filter the air you breathe. Inhalation of radioactive particulates will kill you from the inside out. A secondary purpose is to keep the fallout out of your hair and the inside of your collar if the mask has a hood. Even a dust mask will work, but I use a military issue masks for their durability and filter compatibility with what the military uses. Below is the M17A1 Mask on the left, the M40A1 on the right. Both have the hoods attached.
A lot of people discount the older M17A1 masks, but if you find one in good condition, grab it. The internal filters are a pain in the ass to change when needed, but this type of mask is harder for someone to rip off your face in a close quarters fight. However, the side filter models do give you a better cheek weld when using a rifle, and the filter is easy to change quickly.
Keeping track of your personal dose of radiation is done by wearing a dosimeter “pen”. This is pictured on the left above. The item to the right is a dosimeter charger. This is basically a meter that you look through and a needle inside tells you what your radiation exposure is on a scale that is inside the “pen”.
Last but not least in the electronics department is a radiation survey meter/geiger counter. Depending on the model you get, you can measure the radiation level in your immediate area, or at a distance (some have a cable that you can place at a distance from the meter). This will give you the Rad/Gray level for your location.
That’s all we’re gonna discuss in this post about personal protective apparel for a nuclear threat.