Fact – You can survive a nuclear attack
More than 90% of a city like Washington, D. C. will survive the initial detonation. But, because of poor education, many will not “duck and cover” like the drilled school children in the 1950s and 1960s. Most will head to the windows to see where the super bright flash of light came from. A few moments later, the blast wind will plow through at speeds up to 2,000 mph. Many will die instantly. Those further away will fair better, but many will still die out of curiosity. After the detonation, thousands of people will succumb after just an hour from radioactive fallout. Within two days tens of thousands more will die from exposure from fallout.
Take a city like Charlotte, NC, where the metro population of 600,000 and a Mecklenburg County population of 750,000. If a 50 kiloton bomb explodes in downtown during a work day, 50,000 would be incinerated immediately. The radioactive mushroom cloud would reach 40,000 feet in less than 15 minutes. Leaving a 100-yard wide crater up to 130 feet deep, another 50,000 would probably perish from the blast wave and thermal burns. In general, everyone within a half-mile wide circle will perish within seconds. Thousands would be blinded for life from staring at the flash. But, more than 600,000 would survive if immediate action is taken.
Action means everyone heads to and enters a fallout shelter within half an hour (assuming prevailing west-to-east winds of 15 mph). More time is allowed the further one is from the blast. For example, fallout will arrive within half an hour for most areas down wind up to 10 miles. An hour is allowed for those 25 miles away, and 3 hours for those who are 100 miles away.
Fact – Radioactive fallout loses lethality after a few days
The reason fallout, or charged particles of dust and matter, are so dangerous is that it contains deadly gamma radiation. This radiation eventually loses its deadliness since the energy being produced literally burns out most of its juice by day 3 or 4. Though, there are still lethal amounts within 10 miles of ground zero (down wind) up to a month after detonation.