A new Stanford University study recommends that in the event of a nuclear explosion, people in large metropolitan areas are better off sheltering-in-place in basements for 12-24 hours than trying to evacuate immediately, unless a lengthy warning period is provided.
In the report, “Analyzing Evacuation Versus Shelter-in-Place Strategies After a Terrorist Nuclear Detonation,” which is published in the latest issue of Risk Analysis,
The scientific and engineering analysts comprehensively modeled the impacts of a detonation in downtown Washington D.C. and calculated clogged exit roads would pose more significant risks by exposing evacuees to radiation than if people were to remain in place at the center of large buildings or in basements.
“The logistical challenge of an evacuation appears to be beyond current response capabilities,” said author Lawrence M. Wein, the Jeffrey S. Skoll Professor of Management Science, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He noted, “Sheltering in basements saves approximately twice as many lives as being above ground” in the Washington, D.C. area.
The authors recommend government encourage businesses and citizens to develop a basement shelter strategy, including the storage of food, water, blankets, and other necessities at facilities and homes located in or near large cities.