Answer to Question #12190 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I have a question about taking shelter in the event of a nuclear emergency. I live in a two-story house with an aboveground basement/foundation. There are two evenly spaced metal grate vents on each side of the basement/foundation walls. In the event of a nuclear emergency, would it be safer for my family to take shelter under the stairs in a large closet in the middle of the house or in the basement with the open air vents? We could try to block the vents off. Thank you for your time—I am nervous with three little boys.
I would recommend the first-floor option, but with doors and windows shut tight. Here's why. Several years after the Chernobyl accident I visited Pripyat, the village adjacent to the Chernobyl power plant. I found that the village apartment I toured had no radioactive fallout inside. The doors and windows had been closed, and the fallout passed it by. The official name for this approach is "shelter in place." So if you're faced with a fallout cloud heading your way, stay indoors, close windows and doors, and keep the fallout out.
Joel I. Cehn, CHP