How to Survive an Explosion

Action movies often depict heroes nonchalantly walking away from tremendous explosions. While it might make for good entertainment, the truth is that you most likely wouldn’t be in any condition to walk away from a Hollywood-size explosion. Io9 looks at how explosions work, and why they can be so deadly. They also offer a tip for surviving smaller explosions: RUN . Don’t bother with trying to hit the deck or take cover, just get out of there as fast as possible. Since the force of the explosion decreases exponentially with distance travelled, every bit of distance you can put between yourself and the blast increases your chance of survival. Just make sure you’ve tied your shoelaces properly; trip now and you’re, quite literally, toast.

So How Does One Survive An Explosion?

Generally, one doesn’t. At least not any movie explosion. Films that show people using missiles or using dynamite as a ‘diversion’ or a way to propel themselves or their vehicles or their chairs (Looking at you, Long Kiss Goodnight.) are doing the equivalent of running someone over with a car as a way of patting them on the back. Military-grade explosives unleash millions of pounds per square inch of pressure. Anything near it is getting destroyed.

For more modest explosives, the best defense is distance. Since force is applied over area, it decreases by the square of the distance it travels. Run like hell. A good hundred meter dash will put you in the safe range of one kilogram of TNT. A thousand meters will keep you safe from a thousand kilograms of it. Keep moving directly away from the explosive and keep doing it as far as you can. If you can run while covering your head – especially your ears – you’ll decrease incidental injuries but don’t let anyone distract you from distance. Just get away.

How big an explosion could you realistically survive?

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