Survival in Man-Made Hazards

Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons have become potential realities on
any modern battlefield. Recent experience in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and
other areas of conflict has proved the use of chemical and biological weapons
(such as mycotoxins). The warfighting doctrine of the NATO and Warsaw Pact
nations addresses the use of both nuclear and chemical weapons. The
potential use of these weapons intensifies the problems of survival because of
the serious dangers posed by either radioactive fallout or contamination
produced by persistent biological or chemical agents.
You must use special precautions if you expect to survive in these man-made
hazards. If you are subjected to any of the effects of nuclear, chemical, or
biological warfare, the survival procedures recommended in this chapter may
save your life. This chapter presents some background information on each
type of hazard so that you may better understand the true nature of the
hazard. Awareness of the hazards, knowledge of this chapter, and application
of common sense should keep you alive.

Prepare yourself to survive in a nuclear environment. Know how to react to a nuclear

Effects of Nuclear Weapons
The effects of nuclear weapons are classified as either initial or residual. Initial effects occur
in the immediate area of the explosion and are hazardous in the first minute after the
explosion. Residual effects can last for days or years and cause death. The principal initial
effects are blast and radiation.

Defined as the brief and rapid movement of air away from the explosion’s center and the
pressure accompanying this movement. Strong winds accompany the blast. Blast hurls
debris and personnel, collapses lungs, ruptures eardrums, collapses structures and
positions, and causes immediate death or injury with its crushing effect.

Thermal Radiation
The heat and light radiation a nuclear explosion’s fireball emits. Light radiation consists of
both visible light and ultraviolet and infrared light. Thermal radiation produces extensive
fires, skin burns, and flash blindness.

Nuclear Radiation
Nuclear radiation breaks down into two categories-initial radiation and residual radiation.
Initial nuclear radiation consists of intense gamma rays and neutrons produced during the
first minute after the explosion. This radiation causes extensive damage to cells throughout
the body. Radiation damage may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even
death, depending on the radiation dose received. The major problem in protecting yourself
against the initial radiation’s effects is that you may have received a lethal or
incapacitating dose before taking any protective action. Personnel exposed to lethal
amounts of initial radiation may well have been killed or fatally injured by blast or thermal
Residual radiation consists of all radiation produced after one minute from the explosion. It
has more effect on you than initial radiation. A discussion of residual radiation takes place
in a subsequent paragraph.

Types of Nuclear Bursts
There are three types of nuclear bursts–airburst, surface burst, and subsurface burst. The
type of burst directly affects your chances of survival. A subsurface burst occurs completely
underground or underwater. Its effects remain beneath the surface or in the immediate
area where the surface collapses into a crater over the burst’s location. Subsurface bursts
cause you little or no radioactive hazard unless you enter the immediate area of the crater.
No further discussion of this type of burst will take place.
An airburst occurs in the air above its intended target. The airburst provides the maximum
radiation effect on the target and is, therefore, most dangerous to you in terms of
immediate nuclear effects.
A surface burst occurs on the ground or water surface. Large amounts of fallout result, with
serious long-term effects for you. This type of burst is your greatest nuclear hazard.

Nuclear Injuries
Most injuries in the nuclear environment result from the initial nuclear effects of the
detonation. These injuries are classed as blast, thermal, or radiation injuries. Further
radiation injuries may occur if you do not take proper precautions against fallout.
Individuals in the area near a nuclear explosion will probably suffer a combination of all
three types of injuries.
Blast Injuries
Blast injuries produced by nuclear weapons are similar to those caused by conventional
high-explosive weapons. Blast overpressure can produce collapsed lungs and ruptured
internal organs. Projectile wounds occur as the explosion’s force hurls debris at you. Large
pieces of debris striking you will cause fractured limbs or massive internal injuries. Blast
over-pressure may throw you long distances, and you will suffer severe injury upon impact
with the ground or other objects. Substantial cover and distance from the explosion are the
best protection against blast injury. Cover blast injury wounds as soon as possible to
prevent the entry of radioactive dust particles.

Thermal Injuries
The heat and light the nuclear fireball emits causes thermal injuries. First-, second-, or
third-degree burns may result. Flash blindness also occurs. This blindness may be
permanent or temporary depending on the degree of exposure of the eyes. Substantial
cover and distance from the explosion can prevent thermal injuries. Clothing will provide
significant protection against thermal injuries. Cover as much exposed skin as possible
before a nuclear explosion. First aid for thermal injuries is the same as first aid for burns.
Cover open burns (second-or third-degree) to prevent the entry of radioactive particles.
Wash all burns before covering.

Radiation Injuries
Neutrons, gamma radiation, alpha radiation, and beta radiation cause radiation injuries.
Neutrons are high-speed, extremely penetrating particles that actually smash cells within
your body. Gamma radiation is similar to X rays and is also a highly penetrating radiation.
During the initial fireball stage of a nuclear detonation, initial gamma radiation and
neutrons are the most serious threat. Beta and alpha radiation are radioactive particles
normally associated with radioactive dust from fallout. They are short-range particles and
you can easily protect yourself against them if you take precautions. See Bodily Reactions
to Radiation, below, for the symptoms of radiation injuries.

Residual Radiation
Residual radiation is all radiation emitted after 1 minute from the instant of the nuclear
explosion. Residual radiation consists of induced radiation and fallout.

Induced Radiation
It describes a relatively small, intensely radioactive area directly underneath the nuclear
weapon’s fireball. The irradiated earth in this area will remain highly radioactive for an
extremely long time. You should not travel into an area of induced radiation.

Fallout consists of radioactive soil and water particles, as well as weapon fragments. During
a surface detonation, or if an airburst’s nuclear fireball touches the ground, large amounts
of soil and water are vaporized along with the bomb’s fragments, and forced upward to
altitudes of 25,000 meters or more. When these vaporized contents cool, they can form
more than 200 different radioactive products. The vaporized bomb contents condense into
tiny radioactive particles that the wind carries and they fall back to earth as radioactive
dust. Fallout particles emit alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Alpha and beta radiation are
relatively easy to counteract, and residual gamma radiation is much less intense than the
gamma radiation emitted during the first minute after the explosion. Fallout is your most
significant radiation hazard, provided you have not received a lethal radiation dose from
the initial radiation.

Bodily Reactions to Radiation
The effects of radiation on the human body can be broadly classed as either chronic or
acute. Chronic effects are those that occur some years after exposure to radiation.
Examples are cancer and genetic defects. Chronic effects are of minor concern insofar as
they affect your immediate survival in a radioactive environment. On the other hand, acute
effects are of primary importance to your survival. Some acute effects occur within hours
after exposure to radiation. These effects result from the radiation’s direct physical damage
to tissue. Radiation sickness and beta burns are examples of acute effects. Radiation
sickness symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, and loss of hair.
Penetrating beta rays cause radiation burns; the wounds are similar to fire burns.
Recovery Capability
The extent of body damage depends mainly on the part of the body exposed to radiation
and how long it was exposed, as well as its ability to recover. The brain and kidneys have
little recovery capability. Other parts (skin and bone marrow) have a great ability to recover
from damage. Usually, a dose of 600 centigrams (cgys) to the entire body will result in
almost certain death. If only your hands received this same dose, your overall health would
not suffer much, although your hands would suffer severe damage.

External and Internal Hazards
An external or an internal hazard can cause body damage. Highly penetrating gamma
radiation or the less penetrating beta radiation that causes burns can cause external
damage. The entry of alpha or beta radiation-emitting particles into the body can cause
internal damage. The external hazard produces overall irradiation and beta burns. The
internal hazard results in irradiation of critical organs such as the gastrointestinal tract,
thyroid gland, and bone. A very small amount of radioactive material can cause extreme
damage to these and other internal organs. The internal hazard can enter the body either
through consumption of contaminated water or food or by absorption through cuts or
abrasions. Material that enters the body through breathing presents only a minor hazard.
You can greatly reduce the internal radiation hazard by using good personal hygiene and
carefully decontaminating your food and water.
The symptoms of radiation injuries include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The severity of
these symptoms is due to the extreme sensitivity of the gastrointestinal tract to radiation.
The severity of the symptoms and the speed of onset after exposure are good indicators of
the degree of radiation damage. The gastrointestinal damage can come from either the
external or the internal radiation hazard.

Countermeasures Against Penetrating External Radiation
Knowledge of the radiation hazards discussed earlier is extremely important in surviving in
a fallout area. It is also critical to know how to protect yourself from the most dangerous
form of residual radiation–penetrating external radiation.
The means you can use to protect yourself from penetrating external radiation are time,
distance, and shielding. You can reduce the level of radiation and help increase your
chance of survival by controlling the duration of exposure. You can also get as far away
from the radiation source as possible. Finally you can place some radiation-absorbing or
shielding material between you and the radiation.

Time is important to you, as the survivor, in two ways. First, radiation dosages are
cumulative. The longer you are exposed to a radioactive source, the greater the dose you
will receive. Obviously, spend as little time in a radioactive area as possible. Second,
radioactivity decreases or decays over time. This concept is known as radioactive half-life.
Thus, a radioactive element decays or loses half of its radioactivity within a certain time.
The rule of thumb for radioactivity decay is that it decreases in intensity by a factor of ten
for every sevenfold increase in time following the peak radiation level. For example, if a
nuclear fallout area had a maximum radiation rate of 200 cgys per hour when fallout is
complete, this rate would fall to 20 cgys per hour after 7 hours; it would fall still further to 2
cgys per hour after 49 hours. Even an untrained observer can see that the greatest hazard
from fallout occurs immediately after detonation, and that the hazard decreases quickly
over a relatively short time. As a survivor, try to avoid fallout areas until the radioactivity
decays to safe levels. If you can avoid fallout areas long enough for most of the
radioactivity to decay, you enhance your chance of survival.

Distance provides very effective protection against penetrating gamma radiation because
radiation intensity decreases by the square of the distance from the source. For example, if
exposed to 1,000 cgys of radiation standing 30 centimeters from the source, at 60
centimeters, you would only receive 250 cgys. Thus, when you double the distance,
radiation decreases to (0.5)2
or 0.25 the amount. While this formula is valid for
concentrated sources of radiation in small areas, it becomes more complicated for large
areas of radiation such as fallout areas.

Shielding is the most important method of protection from penetrating radiation. Of the
three countermeasures against penetrating radiation, shielding provides the greatest
protection and is the easiest to use under survival conditions. Therefore, it is the most
desirable method.
If shielding is not possible, use the other two methods to the maximum extent practical.
Shielding actually works by absorbing or weakening the penetrating radiation, thereby
reducing the amount of radiation reaching your body. The denser the material, the better
the shielding effect. Lead, iron, concrete, and water are good examples of shielding

Special Medical Aspects
The presence of fallout material in your area requires slight changes in first aid procedures.
You must cover all wounds to prevent contamination and the entry of radioactive particles.
You must first wash burns of beta radiation, then treat them as ordinary burns. Take extra
measures to prevent infection. Your body will be extremely sensitive to infections due to
changes in your blood chemistry. Pay close attention to the prevention of colds or
respiratory infections. Rigorously practice personal hygiene to prevent infections. Cover
your eyes with improvised goggles to prevent the entry of particles.
As stated earlier, the shielding material’s effectiveness depends on its thickness and
density. An ample thickness of shielding material will reduce the level of radiation to
negligible amounts.
The primary reason for finding and building a shelter is to get protection against the high-
intensity radiation levels of early gamma fallout as fast as possible. Five minutes to locate
the shelter is a good guide. Speed in finding shelter is absolutely essential. Without shelter,
the dosage received in the first few hours will exceed that received during the rest of a
week in a contaminated area. The dosage received in this first week will exceed the dosage
accumulated during the rest of a lifetime spent in the same contaminated area.

Shielding Materials
The thickness required to weaken gamma radiation from fallout is far less than that needed
to shield against initial gamma radiation. Fallout radiation has less energy than a nuclear
detonation’s initial radiation. For fallout radiation, a relatively small amount of shielding
material can provide adequate protection. Figure 23-1 gives an idea of the thickness of
various materials needed to reduce residual gamma radiation transmission by 50 percent.

The principle of half-value layer thickness is useful in understanding the absorption of
gamma radiation by various materials. According to this principle, if 5 centimeters of brick
reduce the gamma radiation level by one-half, adding another 5 centimeters of brick
(another half-value layer) will reduce the intensity by another half, namely, to one-fourth
the original amount. Fifteen centimeters will reduce gamma radiation fallout levels to one-
eighth its original amount, 20 centimeters to one-sixteenth, and so on. Thus, a shelter
protected by 1 meter of dirt would reduce a radiation intensity of 1,000 cgys per hour on
the outside to about 0.5 cgy per hour inside the shelter.

Natural Shelters
Terrain that provides natural shielding and easy shelter construction is the ideal location for
an emergency shelter. Good examples are ditches, ravines, rocky outcropping, hills, and
river banks. In level areas without natural protection, dig a fighting position or slit trench.

When digging a trench, work from inside the trench as soon as it is large enough to cover
part of your body thereby not exposing all your body to radiation. In open country, try to dig
the trench from a prone position, stacking the dirt carefully and evenly around the trench.
On level ground, pile the dirt around your body for additional shielding. Depending upon soil
conditions, shelter construction time will vary from a few minutes to a few hours. If you dig
as quickly as possible, you will reduce the dosage you receive.

Other Shelters
While an underground shelter covered by 1 meter or more of earth provides the best
protection against fallout radiation, the following unoccupied structures (in order listed)
offer the next best protection:
• Caves and tunnels covered by more than 1 meter of earth.
• Storm or storage cellars.
• Culverts.
• Basements or cellars of abandoned buildings.
• Abandoned buildings made of stone or mud.

It is not mandatory that you build a roof on your shelter. Build one only if the materials are
readily available with only a brief exposure to outside contamination. If building a roof
would require extended exposure to penetrating radiation, it would be wiser to leave the
shelter roofless. A roof’s sole function is to reduce radiation from the fallout source to your
body. Unless you use a thick roof, a roof provides very little shielding.
You can construct a simple roof from a poncho anchored down with dirt, rocks, or other
refuse from your shelter. You can remove large particles of dirt and debris from the top of
the poncho by beating it off from the inside at frequent intervals. This cover will not offer
shielding from the radioactive particles deposited on the surface, but it will increase the
distance from the fallout source and keep the shelter area from further contamination.
Shelter Site Selection and Preparation
To reduce your exposure time and thereby reduce the dosage received, remember the
following factors when selecting and setting up a shelter:
• Where possible, seek a crude, existing shelter that you can improve. If none is
available, dig a trench.
• Dig the shelter deep enough to get good protection, then enlarge it as required for
• Cover the top of the fighting position or trench with any readily available material
and a thick layer of earth, if you can do so without leaving the shelter. While a roof
and camouflage are both desirable, it is probably safer to do without them than to
expose yourself to radiation outside your fighting position.
• While building your shelter, keep all parts of your body covered with clothing to
protect it against beta burns.
• Clean the shelter site of any surface deposit using a branch or other object that you
can discard. Do this cleaning to remove contaminated materials from the area you
will occupy. The cleaned area should extend at least 1.5 meters beyond your
shelter’s area.
• Decontaminate any materials you bring into the shelter. These materials include
grass or foliage that you use as insulation or bedding, and your outer clothing
(especially footgear). If the weather permits and you have heavily contaminated
outer clothing, you may want to remove it and bury it under a foot of earth at the
end of your shelter. You may retrieve it later (after the radioactivity decays) when
leaving the shelter. If the clothing is dry, you may decontaminate it by beating or
shaking it outside the shelter’s entrance to remove the radioactive dust. You may
use any body of water, even though contaminated, to rid materials of excess fallout
particles. Simply dip the material into the water and shake it to get rid of the excess
water. Do not wring it out, this action will trap the particles.
• If at all possible and without leaving the shelter, wash your body thoroughly with
soap and water, even if the water on hand may be contaminated. This washing will
remove most of the harmful radioactive particles that are likely to cause beta burns
or other damage. If water is not available, wipe your face and any other exposed skin
surface to remove contaminated dust and dirt. You may wipe your face with a clean
piece of cloth or a handful of uncontaminated dirt. You get this uncontaminated dirt
by scraping off the top few inches of soil and using the “clean” dirt.
• Upon completing the shelter, lie down, keep warm, and sleep and rest as much as
possible while in the shelter.
• When not resting, keep busy by planning future actions, studying your maps, or
making the shelter more comfortable and effective.
• Don’t panic if you experience nausea and symptoms of radiation sickness. Your main
danger from radiation sickness is infection. There is no first aid for this sickness.
Resting, drinking fluids, taking any medicine that prevents vomiting, maintaining
your food intake, and preventing additional exposure will help avoid infection and aid
recovery. Even small doses of radiation can cause these symptoms which may
disappear in a short time.

Exposure Timetable
The following timetable provides you with the information needed to avoid receiving serious
dosage and still let you cope with survival problems:
• Complete isolation from 4 to 6 days following delivery of the last weapon.
• A very brief exposure to procure water on the third day is permissible, but exposure
should not exceed 30 minutes.
• One exposure of not more than 30 minutes on the seventh day.
• One exposure of not more than 1 hour on the eighth day.
• Exposure of 2 to 4 hours from the ninth day through the twelfth day.
• Normal operation, followed by rest in a protected shelter, from the thirteenth day on.
• In all instances, make your exposures as brief as possible. Consider only mandatory
requirements as valid reasons for exposure. Decontaminate at every stop.
The times given above are conservative. If forced to move after the first or second day, you
may do so, Make sure that the exposure is no longer than absolutely necessary.

Water Procurement
In a fallout-contaminated area, available water sources may be contaminated. If you wait at
least 48 hours before drinking any water to allow for radioactive decay to take place and
select the safest possible water source, you will greatly reduce the danger of ingesting
harmful amounts of radioactivity.
Although many factors (wind direction, rainfall, sediment) will influence your choice in
selecting water sources, consider the following guidelines.

Safest Water Sources
Water from springs, wells, or other underground sources that undergo natural filtration will
be your safest source. Any water found in the pipes or containers of abandoned houses or
stores will also be free from radioactive particles. This water will be safe to drink, although
you will have to take precautions against bacteria in the water.
Snow taken from 15 or more centimeters below the surface during the fallout is also a safe
source of water.

Streams and Rivers
Water from streams and rivers will be relatively free from fallout within several days after
the last nuclear explosion because of dilution. If at all possible, filter such water before
drinking to get rid of radioactive particles. The best filtration method is to dig sediment
holes or seepage basins along the side of a water source. The water will seep laterally into
the hole through the intervening soil that acts as a filtering agent and removes the
contaminated fallout particles that settled on the original body of water. This method can
remove up to 99 percent of the radioactivity in water. You must cover the hole in some way
in order to prevent further contamination. See Figure 6-9 for an example of a water filter.

Standing Water
Water from lakes, pools, ponds, and other standing sources is likely to be heavily
contaminated, though most of the heavier, long-lived radioactive isotopes will settle to the
bottom. Use the settling technique to purify this water. First, fill a bucket or other deep
container three-fourths full with contaminated water. Then take dirt from a depth of 10 or
more centimeters below the ground surface and stir it into the water. Use about 2.5
centimeters of dirt for every 10 centimeters of water. Stir the water until you see most dirt
particles suspended in the water. Let the mixture settle for at least 6 hours. The settling dirt
particles will carry most of the suspended fallout particles to the bottom and cover them.
You can then dip out the clear water. Purify this water using a filtration device.

Additional Precautions
As an additional precaution against disease, treat all water with water purification tablets
from your survival kit or boil it.

Food Procurement
Although it is a serious problem to obtain edible food in a radiation-contaminated area, it is
not impossible to solve. You need to follow a few special procedures in selecting and
preparing rations and local foods for use. Since secure packaging protects your combat
rations, they will be perfectly safe for use. Supplement your rations with any food you can
find on trips outside your shelter. Most processed foods you may find in abandoned
buildings are safe for use after decontaminating them. These include canned and packaged
foods after removing the containers or wrappers or washing them free of fallout particles.
These processed foods also include food stored in any closed container and food stored in
protected areas (such as cellars), if you wash them before eating. Wash all food containers
or wrappers before handling them to prevent further contamination.
If little or no processed food is available in your area, you may have to supplement your
diet with local food sources. Local food sources are animals and plants.

Animals as a Food Source
Assume that all animals, regardless of their habitat or living conditions, were exposed to
radiation. The effects of radiation on animals are similar to those on humans. Thus, most of
the wild animals living in a fallout area are likely to become sick or die from radiation
during the first month after the nuclear explosion. Even though animals may not be free
from harmful radioactive materials, you can and must use them in survival conditions as a
food source if other foods are not available. With careful preparation and by following
several important principles, animals can be safe food sources.
First, do not eat an animal that appears to be sick. It may have developed a bacterial
infection as a result of radiation poisoning. Contaminated meat, even if thoroughly cooked,
could cause severe illness or death if eaten.
Carefully skin all animals to prevent any radioactive particles on the skin or fur from
entering the body. Do not eat meat close to the bones and joints as an animal’s skeleton
contains over 90 percent of the radioactivity. The remaining animal muscle tissue,
however, will be safe to eat. Before cooking it, cut the meat away from the bone, leaving at
least a 3-millimeter thickness of meat on the bone. Discard all internal organs (heart, liver,
and kidneys) since they tend to concentrate beta and gamma radioactivity.
Cook all meat until it is very well done. To be sure the meat is well done, cut it into less
than 13-millimeter-thick pieces before cooking. Such cuts will also reduce cooking time and
save fuel.
The extent of contamination in fish and aquatic animals will be much greater than that of
land animals. This is also true for water plants, especially in coastal areas. Use aquatic food
sources only in conditions of extreme emergency.
All eggs, even if laid during the period of fallout, will be safe to eat. Completely avoid milk
from any animals in a fallout area because animals absorb large amounts of radioactivity
from the plants they eat.

Plants as a Food Source
Plant contamination occurs by the accumulation of fallout on their outer surfaces or by
absorption of radioactive elements through their roots. Your first choice of plant food should
be vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, and other plants whose edible portion
grows underground. These are the safest to eat once you scrub them and remove their
Second in order of preference are those plants with edible parts that you can
decontaminate by washing and peeling their outer surfaces. Examples are bananas, apples,
tomatoes, prickly pears, and other such fruits and vegetables.
Any smooth-skinned vegetable, fruit, or plant that you cannot easily peel or effectively
decontaminate by washing will be your third choice of emergency food.
The effectiveness of decontamination by scrubbing is inversely proportional to the
roughness of the fruit’s surface. Smooth-surfaced fruits have lost 90 percent of their
contamination after washing, while washing rough-surfaced plants removes only about 50
percent of the contamination.
You eat rough-surfaced plants (such as lettuce) only as a last resort because you cannot
effectively decontaminate them by peeling or washing. Other difficult foods to
decontaminate by washing with water include dried fruits (figs, prunes, peaches, apricots,
pears) and soya beans.
In general, you can use any plant food that is ready for harvest if you can effectively
decontaminate it. Growing plants, however, can absorb some radioactive materials through
their leaves as well as from the soil, especially if rains have occurred during or after the
fallout period. Avoid using these plants for food except in an emergency.

The use of biological agents is real. Prepare yourself for survival by being proficient in the
tasks identified in your Soldier’s Manuals of Common Tasks (SMCTs). Know what to do to
protect yourself against these agents.

Biological Agents and Effects
Biological agents are microorganisms that can cause disease among personnel, animals, or
plants. They can also cause the deterioration of material. These agents fall into two broad
categories-pathogens (usually called germs) and toxins. Pathogens are living
microorganisms that cause lethal or incapacitating diseases. Bacteria, rickettsiae, fungi,
and viruses are included in the pathogens. Toxins are poisons that plants, animals, or
microorganisms produce naturally. Possible biological war-fare toxins include a variety of
neurotoxic (affecting the central nervous system) and cytotoxic (causing cell death)

Germs are living organisms. Some nations have used them in the past as weapons. Only a
few germs can start an infection, especially if inhaled into the lungs. Because germs are so
small and weigh so little, the wind can spread them over great distances; they can also
enter unfiltered or nonairtight places. Buildings and bunkers can trap them thus causing a
higher concentration. Germs do not affect the body immediately. They must multiply inside
the body and overcome the body’s defenses–a process called the incubation period.
Incubation periods vary from several hours to several months, depending on the germ. Most
germs must live within another living organism (host), such as your body, to survive and
grow. Weather conditions such as wind, rain, cold, and sunlight rapidly kill germs.
Some germs can form protective shells, or spores, to allow survival outside the host. Spore-
producing agents are a long-term hazard you must neutralize by decontaminating infected
areas or personnel. Fortunately, most live agents are not spore-producing. These agents
must find a host within roughly a day of their delivery or they die. Germs have three basic
routes of entry into your body: through the respiratory tract, through a break in the skin,
and through the digestive tract. Symptoms of infection vary according to the disease.

Toxins are substances that plants, animals, or germs produce naturally. These toxins are
what actually harm man, not bacteria. Botulin, which produces botulism, is an example.
Modern science has allowed large-scale production of these toxins without the use of the
germ that produces the toxin. Toxins may produce effects similar to those of chemical
agents. Toxic victims may not, however, respond to first aid measures used against
chemical agents. Toxins enter the body in the same manner as germs. However, some
toxins, unlike germs, can penetrate unbroken skin. Symptoms appear almost immediately,
since there is no incubation period. Many toxins are extremely lethal, even in very small
doses. Symptoms may include any of the following:
• Dizziness.
• Mental confusion.
• Blurred or double vision.
• Numbness or tingling of skin.
• Paralysis.
• Convulsions.
• Rashes or blisters.
• Coughing.
• Fever.
• Aching muscles.
• Tiredness.
• Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
• Bleeding from body openings.
• Blood in urine, stool, or saliva.
• Shock.
• Death.

Detection of Biological Agents
Biological agents are, by nature, difficult to detect. You cannot detect them by any of the
five physical senses. Often, the first sign of a biological agent will be symptoms of the
victims exposed to the agent. Your best chance of detecting biological agents before they
can affect you is to recognize their means of delivery. The three main means of delivery
• Bursting-type munitions. These may be bombs or projectiles whose burst causes very
little damage. The burst will produce a small cloud of liquid or powder in the
immediate impact area. This cloud will disperse eventually; the rate of dispersion
depends on terrain and weather conditions.
• Spray tanks or generators. Aircraft or vehicle spray tanks or ground-level aerosol
generators produce an aerosol cloud of biological agents.
• Vectors. Insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and ticks deliver pathogens. Large
infestations of these insects may indicate the use of biological agents.
Another sign of a possible biological attack is the presence of unusual substances on the
ground or on vegetation, or sick-looking plants, crops, or animals.

Influence of Weather and Terrain
Your knowledge of how weather and terrain affect the agents can help you avoid
contamination by biological agents. Major weather factors that affect biological agents are
sunlight, wind, and precipitation. Aerosol sprays will tend to concentrate in low areas of
terrain, similar to early morning mist.
Sunlight contains visible and ultraviolet solar radiation that rapidly kills most germs used as
biological agents. However, natural or man-made cover may protect some agents from
sunlight. Other man-made mutant strains of germs may be resistant to sunlight.
High wind speeds increase the dispersion of biological agents, dilute their concentration,
and dehydrate them. The further downwind the agent travels, the less effective it becomes
due to dilution and death of the pathogens. However, the downwind hazard area of the
biological agent is significant and you cannot ignore it.
Precipitation in the form of moderate to heavy rain tends to wash biological agents out of
the air, reducing downwind hazard areas. However, the agents may still be very effective
where they were deposited on the ground.

Protection Against Biological Agents
While you must maintain a healthy respect for biological agents, there is no reason for you
to panic. You can reduce your susceptibility to biological agents by maintaining current
immunizations, avoiding contaminated areas, and controlling rodents and pests. You must
also use proper first aid measures in the treatment of wounds and only safe or properly
decontaminated sources of food and water. You must ensure that you get enough sleep to
prevent a run-down condition. You must always use proper field sanitation procedures.
Assuming you do not have a protective mask, always try to keep your face covered with
some type of cloth to protect yourself against biological agent aerosols. Dust may contain
biological agents; wear some type of mask when dust is in the air.
Your uniform and gloves will protect you against bites from vectors (mosquitoes and ticks)
that carry diseases. Completely button your clothing and tuck your trousers tightly into
your boots. Wear a chemical protective overgarment, if available, as it provides better
protection than normal clothing. Covering your skin will also reduce the chance of the agent
entering your body through cuts or scratches. Always practice high standards of personal
hygiene and sanitation to help prevent the spread of vectors.
Bathe with soap and water whenever possible. Use germicidal soap, if available. Wash your
hair and body thoroughly, and clean under your fingernails. Clean teeth, gums, tongue, and
the roof of your mouth frequently. Wash your clothing in hot, soapy water if you can. If you
cannot wash your clothing, lay it out in an area of bright sunlight and allow the light to kill
the microorganisms. After a toxin attack, decontaminate yourself as if for a chemical attack
using the M258A2 kit (if available) or by washing with soap and water.

You can build expedient shelters under biological contamination conditions using the same
techniques described in Chapter 5. However, you must make slight changes to reduce the
chance of biological contamination. Do not build your shelter in depressions in the ground.
Aerosol sprays tend to concentrate in these depressions. Avoid building your shelter in
areas of vegetation, as vegetation provides shade and some degree of protection to
biological agents. Avoid using vegetation in constructing your shelter. Place your shelter’s
entrance at a 90-degree angle to the prevailing winds. Such placement will limit the entry
of airborne agents and prevent air stagnation in your shelter. Always keep your shelter

Water Procurement
Water procurement under biological conditions is difficult but not impossible. Whenever
possible, try to use water that has been in a sealed container. You can assume that the
water inside the sealed container is not contaminated. Wash the water container
thoroughly with soap and water or boil it for at least 10 minutes before breaking the seal.
If water in sealed containers is not available, your next choice, only under emergency
conditions, is water from springs. Again, boil the water for at least 10 minutes before
drinking. Keep the water covered while boiling to prevent contamination by airborne
pathogens. Your last choice, only in an extreme emergency, is to use standing water.
Vectors and germs can survive easily in stagnant water. Boil this water as long as practical
to kill all organisms. Filter this water through a cloth to remove the dead vectors. Use water
purification tablets in all cases.

Food Procurement
Food procurement, like water procurement, is not impossible, but you must take special
precautions. Your combat rations are sealed, and you can assume they are not
contaminated. You can also assume that sealed containers or packages of processed food
are safe. To ensure safety, decontaminate all food containers by washing with soap and
water or by boiling the container in water for 10 minutes.
You consider supplementing your rations with local plants or animals only in extreme
emergencies. No matter what you do to prepare the food, there is no guarantee that
cooking will kill all the biological agents. Use local food only in life or death situations.
Remember, you can survive for a long time without food, especially if the food you eat may
kill you!
If you must use local food, select only healthy-looking plants and animals. Do not select
known carriers of vectors such as rats or other vermin. Select and prepare plants as you
would in radioactive areas. Prepare animals as you do plants. Always use gloves and
protective clothing when handling animals or plants. Cook all plant and animal food by
boiling only. Boil all food for at least 10 minutes to kill all pathogens. Do not try to fry, bake,
or roast local food. There is no guarantee that all infected portions have reached the
required temperature to kill all pathogens. Do not eat raw food.

Chemical agent warfare is real. It can create extreme problems in a survival situation, but
you can overcome the problems with the proper equipment, knowledge, and training. As a
survivor, your first line of defense against chemical agents is your proficiency in individual
nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) training, to include donning and wearing the
protective mask and over-garment, personal decontamination, recognition of chemical
agent symptoms, and individual first aid for chemical agent contamination. The SMCTs
cover these subjects. If you are not proficient in these skills, you will have little chance of
surviving a chemical environment.
The subject matter covered below is not a substitute for any of the individual tasks in which
you must be proficient. The SMCTs address the various chemical agents, their effects, and
first aid for these agents. The following information is provided under the assumption that
you are proficient in the use of chemical protective equipment and know the symptoms of
various chemical agents.

Detection of Chemical Agents
The best method for detecting chemical agents is the use of a chemical agent detector. If
you have one, use it. However, in a survival situation, you will most likely have to rely solely
on the use of all of your physical senses. You must be alert and able to detect any clues
indicating the use of chemical warfare. General indicators of the presence of chemical
agents are tears, difficult breathing, choking, itching, coughing, and dizziness. With agents
that are very hard to detect, you must watch for symptoms in fellow survivors. Your
surroundings will provide valuable clues to the presence of chemical agents; for example,
dead animals, sick people, or people and animals displaying abnormal behavior.
Your sense of smell may alert you to some chemical agents, but most will be odorless. The
odor of newly cut grass or hay may indicate the presence of choking agents. A smell of
almonds may indicate blood agents.
Sight will help you detect chemical agents. Most chemical agents in the solid or liquid state
have some color. In the vapor state, you can see some chemical agents as a mist or thin
fog immediately after the bomb or shell bursts. By observing for symptoms in others and by
observing delivery means, you may be able to have some warning of chemical agents.
Mustard gas in the liquid state will appear as oily patches on leaves or on buildings.
The sound of enemy munitions will give some clue to the presence of chemical weapons.
Muffled shell or bomb detonations are a good indicator.
Irritation in the nose or eyes or on the skin is an urgent warning to protect your body from
chemical agents. Additionally, a strange taste in food, water, or cigarettes may serve as a
warning that they have been contaminated.

Protection Against Chemical Agents
As a survivor, always use the following general steps, in the order listed, to protect yourself
from a chemical attack:
• Use protective equipment.
• Give quick and correct self-aid when contaminated.
• Avoid areas where chemical agents exist.
• Decontaminate your equipment and body as soon as possible.
Your protective mask and over-garment are the key to your survival. Without these, you
stand very little chance of survival. You must take care of these items and protect them
from damage. You must practice and know correct self-aid procedures before exposure to
chemical agents. The detection of chemical agents and the avoidance of contaminated
areas is extremely important to your survival. Use whatever detection kits may be available
to help in detection. Since you are in a survival situation, avoid contaminated areas at all
costs. You can expect no help should you become contaminated. If you do become
contaminated, decontaminate yourself as soon as possible using proper procedures.

If you find yourself in a contaminated area, try to move out of the area as fast as possible.
Travel crosswind or upwind to reduce the time spent in the downwind hazard area. If you
cannot leave the area immediately and have to build a shelter, use normal shelter
construction techniques, with a few changes. Build the shelter in a clearing, away from all
vegetation. Remove all topsoil in the area of the shelter to decontaminate the area. Keep
the shelter’s entrance closed and oriented at a 90-degree angle to the prevailing wind. Do
not build a fire using contaminated wood–the smoke will be toxic. Use extreme caution
when entering your shelter so that you will not bring contamination inside.

Water Procurement
As with biological and nuclear environments, getting water in a chemical environment is
difficult. Obviously, water in sealed containers is your best and safest source. You must
protect this water as much as possible. Be sure to decontaminate the containers before
If you cannot get water in sealed containers, try to get it from a closed source such as
underground water pipes. You may use rainwater or snow if there is no evidence of
contamination. Use water from slow-moving streams, if necessary, but always check first
for signs of contamination, and always filter the water as described under nuclear
conditions. Signs of water source contamination are foreign odors such as garlic, mustard,
geranium, or bitter almonds; oily spots on the surface of the water or nearby; and the
presence of dead fish or animals. If these signs are present, do not use the water. Always
boil or purify the water to prevent bacteriological infection.

Food Procurement
It is extremely difficult to eat while in a contaminated area. You will have to break the seal
on your protective mask to eat. If you eat, find an area in which you can safely unmask. The
safest source of food is your sealed combat rations. Food in sealed cans or bottles will also
be safe. Decontaminate all sealed food containers before opening, otherwise you will
contaminate the food.
If you must supplement your combat rations with local plants or animals, do not use plants
from contaminated areas or animals that appear to be sick. When handling plants or
animals, always use protective gloves and clothing.

Click Here to Go BACK to Agent Survival Contents<<

Like this Contents? Get FREE Updates!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *