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Your Nuclear Attack Map for 2023

(Image courtesy of Princeton University/Nuclear Futures Lab)

What if you had a nuclear attack map—a guide showing exactly when and where each strike would occur—before the first warhead went off?

You’d know when and where the bombs might fall first … and which cities, bases, or locations might be hit in secondary attacks.

The target of a nuclear strike would vary based on the aggressor and the type of attack.

But as you’re about to see, certain regions of America are at far greater risk than others.

And knowing where it will happen before the nuclear bomb ever goes off … is a potentially life-saving advantage in the face of a cataclysmic nuclear attack. It can shape your response in those crucial early moments of crisis and help you plan your response beforehand.

So today, we will show you what that nuclear attack map might look like for 2023.

We will dive deep into the specific strategies and weapons most likely to be deployed and the fallout that would result in the aftermath.

A warning ahead of time; what you’re about to read will be grim.

(Image courtesy of US Department of Energy)

There’s no way to cover this topic without touching on some exceptionally dark material. The immense power of these weapons is unlike anything else in human history. So much so that the concept of a “megadeath” (or one million dead from a single attack) was coined to discuss the topics we’re about to cover today.

Which is all the more reason to do everything you can to understand these weapons. To prepare yourself and your family for the nightmare scenario of an all-out nuclear attack.

So let’s get started…


  • 01

    Brutal Nuclear Doctrine

  • 02

    A Nightmare “Plan A”

  • 03

    A Primary Target for Annihilation

  • 04

    4 Steps to Surviving the Immediate Aftermath of a Nuclear Attack

  • 05

    Practical Protection for a Nuclear Attack

  • 06

    Surviving the Aftermath

Brutal Nuclear Doctrine

Despite the technological sophistication of nuclear weapons, the doctrine dictating their use is caveman-simple.

The concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) was robust enough to maintain a nuclear stalemate between the USSR and America throughout the Cold War. But it’s also simple enough for any schoolboy to understand. You shoot your nuke at me, and I’ll shoot back until no one’s left alive in either country.

MAD drove the rapid accumulation of nuclear weapons during those years. More bombs meant more destructive power and deterrence to keep the enemy from attacking. At the same time, both sides kept fighting for an edge that would let them skirt all-out annihilation—even if their opponent didn’t.

This leads us to the concept of the “alpha strike.”

An alpha strike is a pre-emptive attack on a hostile enemy, first targeting their nuclear weapons and military assets. In theory, taking the initiative would prevent the enemy from retaliating with their entire arsenal and cut projected deaths to more “acceptable” levels (often still in the millions).

The catch with an alpha strike is that it would have to be comprehensive. You’d have to wipe out most, if not all, of the enemy’s weapons before they get the chance to retaliate. And since the United States and Russian leaders have their version of a “nuclear football” on hand to initiate a launch at any time, you’d have to be extremely quick.

(Image courtesy of Federation of American Scientists)

Alpha attack submarines were invented for that specific purpose. They’re engineered to avoid detection and run for long periods in enemy waters. The U.S. spends $2.4 billion annually to maintain 14 ballistic missile submarines. If ever called into action, an Ohio-class submarine can unleash up to 24 sub-based missiles with multiple independently targeted warheads. Fired near their targets, the enemy has minimal time to respond before their warheads hit.

Another more recent weapon designed for alpha strikes is the hypersonic missile. These state-of-the-art missiles can reach up to Mach 5, or 4,000 miles per hour, to deliver their payload in minutes from across the Pacific or Atlantic.

But these types of weapons are not universally used. Once again, an Alpha Strike would have to be comprehensive. And aside from Russia and the United States, other powers have a few hundred nuclear weapons at most. China is currently estimated to have 350. That means it doesn’t have enough for a practical alpha strike, so they’re relegated to a retaliatory strike. The moment they detect a launch targeting their silos, they’d launch in response targeting population centers—ensuring Mutually Assured Destruction.

That means, aside from the United States and Russia, no country is incentivized to initiate a nuclear attack on its own. That’s assuming rational leadership, which is a big assumption. Ongoing local conflicts, like tensions between India and Pakistan, could see rapid nuclear escalation if things ever took a turn for the worse.

Additionally, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there’s an increasing risk that tactical nuclear weapons may, at some point, be deployed. Tactical or battlefield nukes are designed to win battles and achieve short-term objectives. Strategic nuclear weapons, like the ones we’ve been discussing, are a part doomsday weapon, part insurance policy, and part political tool.

And unfortunately, long-standing arms control treaties have been abandoned in recent years, allowing for the development of new weapons with expanded use cases that bring us closer to the brink.

A Nightmare “Plan A”

In 2019, Princeton’s Science and Global Security Program developed a “Plan A” simulation to simulate how limited tactical weapons could rapidly spiral into an all-out nuclear assault and leave 91.5 million dead in a matter of hours.

Here’s a glimpse of what the Russia nuclear attack map would look like:

What begins with a one-for-one tactical exchange escalates rapidly into counterforce and eventually counter value—wiping out critical infrastructure to keep your enemy from recovering in the aftermath of an apocalyptic attack.

In a matter of hours, most of Europe, the United States, and Russia would be leveled. Nearly 100 million dead immediately–in the afternoon or the evening.

Those who weren’t immediately killed by the blasts or afflicted with radiation sickness could still be blinded by it from miles away. 35% of a nuclear weapon’s energy is released as heat, which can scorch and leave second and third-degree burns even miles from the blast.

Each impact would vaporize buildings, blowing out windows and ejecting wreckage at 784 miles per hour outward from the blast. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would shut down every car, smartphone, computer, and other unshielded electronic devices for miles. The immediate ramifications would be horrifying.

Beyond the 91.5 million who’d die worldwide in a matter of hours, hundreds of millions more would suffer a premature death over the coming years from cancers caused by radiation poisoning. And as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, that’s all just the beginning.

In the hours and days to come, nuclear fallout would spread miles downwind of each blast site. The nuclear blasts would cause global cooling and reduce crop yield worldwide because of the vast quantities of dust propelled into the high atmosphere. According to a 2013 International Physicians for the Prevention of War study, even a limited nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would put a billion at risk of starvation and another 1.3 billion at risk of severe food insecurity.

Following a significant war between the United States and Russia, some 90% of the world’s population would be at risk of starvation. Due to the sheer volume of fallout ejected into the atmosphere, food production wouldn’t return to normal for upwards of ten years after the explosions. Food production would be more stable at Southern latitudes—in places like Australia—further away from the equatorial fallout cloud.

In conclusion, an all-out nuclear war would be deadly for everyone, regardless of where you live. But a more limited exchange—like one following a successful alpha strike by U.S. forces—could vastly improve your chances of survival.

A Primary Target for Annihilation

Suppose Russia attempts an alpha strike against America or a counterforce measure to target our nuclear weapons. In that case, their initial targets will be relatively remote (with the notable exception of Washington, D.C.). Here’s a simple nuclear attack map:

(Image courtesy of Business Insider)

This is by design, of course. These locations were specifically selected to risk the fewest lives possible in the event of just such an attack. That means most Americans would be safe from the initial barrage.

But from there, as counterforce evolves into counter-value, Russian missiles would begin targeting larger cities, including New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco (Washington D.C. would most likely already be hit in the first wave of attacks).

As we saw in the “Plan A” video above, the whole exchange could last just a few hours—while dooming billions.

The potential targets for a nuclear strike are relatively well-known. But the immediate aftermath would be practically impossible to predict. Depending on everything from seasonality to the size, concentration, and yield of nuclear weapons, these attacks could light off raging wildfires or leave a trail of fallout hundreds of miles long that lasts for weeks.

The map below, compiled from data provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is the most accurate nuclear attack map and fallout demonstration available for 2023:

(Image courtesy of FEMA and Halcyon Maps)

The fallout would rapidly spread, turning targeted cities into whole affected regions. As you can see in the map above, almost all of California and coastal New England would be at risk. The entire state of Florida would be in a challenging situation—likely rushing to evacuate—while the rest of the Eastern United States would struggle with fallout ranging from minor to severe.

Western Texas, most of Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin would be notably in the clear. But the latter two would likely become uninhabitable in the coming nuclear winter.

Regardless of where you’re located when the bombs hit, most Americans would need to spend at least a week in a shelter to wait out the worst of the fallout and radiation (see the legend in the lower left of the map).

To guarantee you’ll have the best odds of surviving those crucial first few days after an attack, there are a few key steps you can take.

4 Steps to Surviving the Immediate Aftermath of a Nuclear Attack

Panic will likely rule those crucial first hours after a nuclear attack as civilians struggle to comprehend the scale of destruction they’re witnessing.

The first impulse many people will have is getting in their car and driving. They’ll want to get as far away as possible from ground zero. The problem is that vehicles offer very little protection from radiation and fallout. And 15 minutes after the bomb goes off, the first fallout particles will go down to ground level. So if you get in the car right away, you could be driving straight into the worst of it.

The second problem with evacuating immediately is that so many people will likely try and do it. Setting out, you’d have no idea whether the roads were safe or precise. The initial EMP blast would wipe out most communications, so you could leave safe shelter (at home, the office, or any other solid building) and once again put yourself in the line of fire.

(Image courtesy of FEMA)

So step one and two are simple—don’t get in your car immediately, and don’t try to evacuate.

Instead, be ready to hunker down. As I’ve written in previous articles on nuclear fallout and nuclear war, surviving those first 72 hours is a severe challenge. Even if it means having to hunker down in the office and live off stored snacks for three days, you’ll want to ensure you stay sheltered—preferably behind as many thick walls as possible.

Step 3 is keeping at least a small supply of nonperishable food on hand. Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) can be a practical choice for this step, along with things like oats and honey. It might surprise you to hear it, but having a few MREs and a gallon or two of water stored in your car can vastly improve your options in those critical first days after a nuclear attack.

The final step is to keep a portable, handheld radio handy. No smartphones or high-tech gadgets, the best choice here is an old-school emergency crank radio that can be activated in the days following the blast and tuned in to emergency signals. This is a great tool to have in your car, home, or office anyway—as an emergency radio can be helpful in the event of a power outage or a natural disaster like a hurricane.

(NOTE: Read FEMA’s Nuclear Explosion Fact Sheet for more)

(These primary considerations will vastly improve your odds of survival. And upgrading your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can vastly improve your flexibility and effectiveness when adapting to new and unexpected challenges along the way.

Practical Protection for a Nuclear Attack

As you can see in the map above, some places will likely be safe after just a few days—while others may remain hazardous for weeks or even months. And while it’s best to shelter for the duration, it’s not always practical—mainly if you (or your family) are in one of the hotspots mentioned above.

So let’s look at a few practical PPE Upgrades that can protect you from nuclear fallout.

CM-8M Gas Mask

A gas mask with the right filter can protect its user from inhaling fallout and particulate that would otherwise expose you to harmful alpha and beta radiation.

Our top recommendation for a full-face respirator would be the MIRA Safety CM-8M gas mask. It’s the newest addition to our lineup, featuring a uniquely contoured visor that offers maximum field of view while also being compatible with popular rifle optics and night vision goggles.

It’s a practical, tactical respirator that can last up to 20 years in storage and is compatible with your existing 40mm gas mask filters. It can also be equipped with the MIRA Safety gas mask microphone for improved communications or an MB-90 powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) for easier breathing.

MIRA Safety gas masks will protect you from more than just nuclear fallout. Depending on the filter, they can also protect you from many other chemical warfare agents and biological threats.

NBC-77 SOF Gas Mask Filters

If you’re headed out into the unknown—or the aftermath of a nuclear blast—then the NBC-77 SOF gas mask filter should be your first choice. It offers a wide range of protection against chemical warfare agents, biological threats, industrial waste, and nuclear fallout. This filter also has the crucial “Reactor” certification, which protects the wearer from radioactive iodine that can be jettisoned into the atmosphere after a nuclear blast or reactor meltdown.

But one of the best features of the NBC-77 SOF is its unrivaled 20-year shelf life (most standard gas mask filters have a shelf life of 7-10 years). So while you may have to replace other filters multiple times over the next 20 years, each vacuum-sealed NBC-77 SOF will last as long on the shelf as your gas masks and respirators.

Considering the destructive force of a nuclear weapon, there’s no telling what might end up in the air after a blast. The atmosphere could be filled not just with the fallout—but with every inhalable threat, from toxic industrial chemicals to noxious gases. The NBC-77 SOF should be your go-to filter to tackle these threats.


You’ll need a full-body hazmat suit like the MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT to prevent direct contact with radioactive fallout.

The HAZ-SUIT is fully impermeable and engineered from rugged tear- and puncture-resistant fabric to be tough enough for any emergency use. It has a practically unlimited shelf life with a broad chemical holdout for lasting protection during a disaster. And unlike other hazmat suits, it’s available in various sizes to fit each family member.

HAZ-SUITs can be stored anywhere and deployed in just a few minutes. Remember that you’ll also need gloves, boots, a gas mask, and chemtape for full-body protection.


One of the most dangerous elements you can be exposed to during the aftermath of a nuclear blast or meltdown is radioactive iodine (I-131). This radioactive iodine is inhaled and then concentrated in the thyroid gland, which frequently causes cancer.

Thyrosafe protects you from I-131 exposure by simply flooding your thyroid with safe potassium iodide until no more can be absorbed. Each dose offers 24 hours of protection (per dose) to help reach safety.

Thyrosafe is the only FDA-approved potassium iodide supplement. Tablets are sealed and can last up to 10 years in storage. These tablets are helpful even miles from the blast—since even minimal exposure to I-131 can have serious consequences. And considering that most Americans live within 50 miles of active reactors, everyone should have at least a few boxes of Thyrosafe stashed away.

MIRA Safety Potassium Iodide Tablets

A recently launched and more cost-effective alternative to Thyrosafe is the MIRA Safety Potassium Iodide Tablets. This is effectively the same supplement but offered in a 3X greater quantity–for a few dollars less.

Surviving the Aftermath

As you can see, mutually assured destruction is practically absolute.

While the initial nuclear war would primarily kill Americans and Russians, the following nuclear winter would starve most people all across the globe. Five billion would eventually die of starvation, and at least ten years would go by before crop yields would return to normal.

Even though infrastructure would remain largely intact throughout Africa, South America, Europe, and most of Asia, their populations would still be ravaged by famine.

How long would it take for things to return to normal?

In the aftermath of the Chernobyl reactor explosion, an army of 600,000 liquidators were employed to purge the land of deadly radiation. That meant eradicating livestock and wild animals … ejecting farmers from their homes, and burying mountains of poisoned Earth. And all that was necessary for a single reactor.

Chernobyl’s Liquidators

If the U.S. and Russia were to exhaust their nuclear arsenals, we could see over 3,500 nuclear explosions worldwide.

The damage would be catastrophic and take generations, if not centuries, to repair—though the world would likely never return to ‘normal.’

But if you’re clear of the primary targets, if you take the crucial steps needed to protect yourself and your family during those critical first 72 hours, and if you can find safe harbor in the weeks and months after a nuclear war, then you’ll have a fighting chance at the future.