When Indiana Jones hides in a fridge to protect himself from a nuclear blast a lot of people have thought that it can actually work. The problem is that what happens in a movie and what reality is are two completely different things. A nuclear detonation can level off entire buildings made out of steel and concrete, no plastic fridge is going to protect you from a nuclear blast. The building where the fridge is might save you but not not the actual fridge.
No, you can not survive a nuclear bomb in a fridge because a nuclear detonation has several potential killers including the initial blast, heatwave, dynamic overpressure, and radioactive fallout. While hiding in a fridge might shelter you from one of these killers, no fridge can protect you from all of the dangers which a nuclear explosion produces.
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In case of an imminent nuclear attack, you will have a limited time to run to safety, and if you can not identify any safe places nearby you will have to improvise. Your first instinct would be probably to hide under the table, bed, or in your closet. As your mind scrambles to find any memories which could end up saving your life you might think of Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Indian Jones hid in a fridge and actually survived a nuclear bomb.
Hiding in a fridge might be better than nothing, but there are several factors to take into consideration, such as how close the nuclear detonation is if the detonation happened on ground level or in the air and how far are you from the actual fallout. As Indian Jones is a fictional character and the events in the movie are entirely fictional most people would dismiss the idea of surviving a nuclear bomb in a fridge.
One of the most common arguments in favor of surviving in a fridge after a nuclear blast is that the fridge in the movie was lead-lined within and this somehow protected Indiana Jones. The big problem with this is that there are no lead-lined commercially available fridges. As led is a metal it also conducts heat and as the role of a fridge is to keep a cool inside temperature a lead or any kind of metal interior would be rather pointless. In case you are preparing for a massive SHTF situation, like a war then check out my recent article How to prepare for war as a civilian? ( In 8 Steps ).
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Indiana Jones hiding in a fridge from a nuclear blast
The fridge used in the movie was a King Cool refrigerator which was a common household appliance in the ’50s. In the movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Indiana Jones comes across a fake town that was built for the only purpose to be destroyed by a nuclear blast so that scientists can observe and learn from it. This is not fiction, the US government did have several of these fake towns destroyed by nuclear weapons in Nevada at Yucca Flats.
During the Food Test Program scientists observed how a nuclear blast would affect frozen foods so they have added a Frigidaire chest freezer in one of the houses meant to be destroyed by the nuclear blast. The Frigidaire chest freezer placed in a concrete home approximately 4000 feet from the blast contained chicken pies, french fries, cod fillets, and other food items. In addition to this, they have also added dry ice to keep the content of the freezer below freezing as the freezer was not connected to electricity. This is from where the idea of nuclear explosion vs fridge comes from. What most people don’t actually know that there was a lot of lead in old refrigerators, which definitely helped in protecting some of the items inside the fridge.
After some hours of the nuclear detonation, scientists examined the freezer and its content. The freezer was in better shape than they thought it would be and once hooked up to electricity it also functioned normally. For the most part, even the frozen food was undamaged and there was no radiation being detected, the scientists were so sure in their measurements that they have actually eaten the contents of the freezer several hours after the blast.
Some might say that the freezer survived the nuclear bomb, although the house played a major role as the house with the freezer was one of only two houses to survive the nuclear blast. These tests have been done in 1955, since then we have accumulated a lot of knowledge on nuclear blasts and what was considered safe back in 1955 is no longer considered safe today.
Although there have been people who survived nuclear blasts from only 984 feet, such as Akiko Takakura who survived the Hiroshima nuclear bomb by hiding in a bank lobby, this is probably due to luck than anything else. If you are wondering what would be your job after a massive nuclear apocalypse then check out my recent article List of post apocalyptic jobs ( Top 22 Jobs & Skills ).
The nuclear blast energy will destroy any fridge
This is the energy with which the nuclear weapon explodes, it comes in different phases and no fridge could survive it, let alone a person hiding in it. As for how hard the fridge will be hit with the blast energy will depend on how close to ground zero the fridge is. Usually, modern homes are prefabricated, which means that the house is not built from the ground up rather than built-in a facility and assembled at the location. If you have read my recent article Staying home during SHTF ( Can you? ), you already know that if you are in close proximity to the detonation that this is not a viable option, the same goes if your local area is affected by the fallout.
These houses are safe to use and also cheap but they are not meant to withstand nuclear blast energy, no house is. No matter if you hide in a freezer or in a fridge where ground zero is fairly close, the nuclear blast will destroy the house, and even if the fridge remains intact you could actually explode due to the difference in pressure caused by the nuclear blast. In addition to this even in the best-case scenario, the fridge will probably be blast off hundreds of feet, which on impact with the ground will kill anybody inside of it. There are a couple of stages of a nuclear explosion, one more devastating than the other.
The static overpressure will destroy a fridge
This is the first pressure wave to hit in case of a nuclear blast, although it can do some harm to humans if you are actually hiding in a fridge you should be safe.
The dynamic overpressure will destroy a fridge
This is the second pressure wave to hit in case of the nuclear blast, while the static overpressure is powerful the dynamic overpressure is even more powerful. This could generate a pressure wave of around 600 miles per hour, in this case even if the fridge could survive it, the fridge has to be airtight in order not to implode the person inside, there will be an additional danger of flying debris. You have probably seen pictures of wooden beams impaled in concrete walls caused by a tornado, now imagine that same wooden beam being propelled by twice as much powerful winds. WW 3 will most likely include nuclear attacks, for more information check out my recent article What would happen if World War 3 started? ( Top 8 Predictions ).
A fridge can not protect against the receding flow
This happens after the dynamic pressure, once the nuclear bomb explodes it will create a massive vacuum in the air as the pressure wave expands. Once the dynamic overpressure has distanced itself from ground zero far enough the receding flow will begin. Usually, the receiving flow is not so powerful to destroy a fridge, the danger here comes mostly from flying debris.
A fridge can not protect you against the fallout
Fallout consists of radioactive particles that will fall on the ground after a nuclear blast. In some cases, these can travel into the atmosphere where they would be dispersed by wind and rain. Depending on the proximity to the nuclear blast, a simple fridge will not be able to save you. If you are close to the initial blast then there is a very high chance that the radioactive fallout will be in a much larger concentration than if you would have been further from the blast.
Radiation poisoning does not kill outright, depending on the severity of the fallout some people die in a matter of hours to weeks. Those who had been exposed to nuclear fallout even in nonlethal doses will have lifelong health issues.
The heatwave will burn anything inside the fridge
Depending on the force of the nuclear explosion these also produce an extremely powerful heatwave. By heatwave, I do not mean mild heat which will make your skin red, but a heatwave so powerful that anything flammable will instantly combust including the surrounding air. Not only this is deadly due to burning but also in case you inhale this overheated air, as this will burn your lungs in a matter of seconds.
Even if by some miracle you could survive the initial blast of a nuclear bomb in the fridge, you still have to worry about the fallout. Most people think that the actual detonation of a nuclear weapon will cause most of the casualties, but the fallout is the real killer. Radioactive particles could fly around in the atmosphere for years producing radioactive rain, anybody coming in contact with the radioactive particles no matter if it happens on the day of the nuclear detonation or 10 years later could suffer from radiation poisoning which left untreated is often lethal.