Experts' Keys to Surviving a Nuclear Terror Attack

Be Prepared, and Survival Is Possible

There are some fears that first responders may not actually respond, but Raske says he is confident they will. "They've got a New York attitude, which means we're going to be in there slugging it away," he said.

Despite that optimism, though, both Redlener and Hauer doubt that even a city like New York could absorb the impact of a major nuclear catastrophe.

"No American city currently has the capacity to effectively respond to a nuclear detonation," Redlener said.

"When you're talking about 100,000 that need decontamination or 200,000 that need decontamination or medical care, I just don't see any city being prepared to deal with that," said Hauer.

But across the board, experts say you can survive, if you prepare. One of the key tips is to see the plume. Officials should be able to tell you which direction is safe, and that is the direction you should go.

"It's absolutely critical that you move laterally and not move toward the plume," Hauer said.

If avoiding the plume is not an option, you still can get to a protected place, like a basement or interior room that can be sealed against radioactive dust.

"When you're sheltering in place, duct tape and plastic can protect you from the particles," Hauer said.

And even if you come in contact with the radioactive plume, there are steps you can take to decontaminate yourself:

"The first thing is to remove the radioactive materials as quickly as possible. So, you shed your clothing, you get decontaminated, you get washed off, you get a shower," Redlener said.

The key is to think about how to survive -- because like the rest of life, attitude can make the difference. "It's absolutely essential that we prepare," Hauer said. "The chance is actually pretty good if you know what to do."

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