US Nuclear Target Map: Potential Targets and Safe Zones

US Nuclear Target Map: Potential Targets and Safe Zones

With the nuclear threat ever-growing in our world full of politics and turmoil, you might wonder about the U.S. nuclear target map and where you are the safest. We might hope that the threat of a nuclear strike is minimal with appropriate relationships between nations, but taking steps to negate our dangers is a smart tactic.

A year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin let the world know about his country’s nuclear strength, and everyone is well aware that North Korea has its stash of nuclear weapons. What countries have nuclear warheads? Here is a general estimation:Russia: 6,850

  • United States: 6,550
  • France: 300
  • China: 280
  • United Kingdom: 215
  • Pakistan: 145
  • India: 135
  • Israel: 80
  • North Korea: 15

Don’t forget; the number of nuclear warheads doesn’t matter as much as a proper strike. A nuclear warhead dropped strategically in the United States can do more than 10 dropped haphazardly. Never underestimate a nation with nuclear weapons.

All of this has me wondering about the possible US nuclear targets, and I wanted to compare maps. Does everyone have the same idea about where a terrorist might target? If so, can we agree on some safe areas in the US? Let’s take a look

A nuclear attack “would have devastating results”: US Govt.

America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, otherwise known as the CDC, is starting the public awareness campaign with a workshop called “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation“. This workshop is designed for doctors, government officials, first responders, and other stakeholders who would have a direct role in the responsibility of addressing the after-effect should a nuclear attack ever happen.

But this isn’t just for professionals working in the preparedness industry, the CDC encourages everyone to “Learn how planning and preparation efforts for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts”.

In the workshop, one of the presentations to be given is on the “Roadmap to Radiation Preparedness”, delivered by a specialist from a Health Protection Division worker.

A nuclear attack on South Korea tv

A woman walks past a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on April 5, 2017. AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je

Their reason for launching this new look into preparing for a nuclear attack is simple. They state that “while a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps.”

“Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness.  For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding.”

This workshop isn’t only a sign of the serious attitude health agencies are taking toward nuclear preparedness, it’s also an invitation to the public as the CDC and other agencies are making a trend towards being more public with their nuclear preparedness strategies in a bid to ease residents into an understanding of what nuclear preparedness is.

The workshop will be aired on January 16, 2018, and will be live-streamed to the public. You will be able to find more details on the live stream on the CDC page closer to the date.

What problems do governments face in promoting nuclear preparedness?

Overcoming the hurdle of encouraging nuclear preparedness is no easy feat, even for some of the world’s biggest government powers. For them, promoting simple awareness campaigns on issues of preparedness is difficult enough, such as how to limit the spread of disease, and preparing for storms and wildfires.

Sure, disasters and wildfires do happen, and we all know how quick the common cold can spread from bus handles to confined public spaces, but how do you encourage people to start looking at the real hard facts of nuclear attacks and what to do in the event of a nuclear detonation?

This just adds to the soiree of preparedness issues we face this day and age, and will eventually be as common as what high school shooter drills and traffic barricades to stop driving attacks have since become.

There are a few other issues that are prevalent for nuclear attacks and preparedness though.

What are the Primary Targets on the US Nuclear Target Map?

Of course, the targets are speculation, but we can make some reasonable guesses as to possible strikes. We assume that a terrorist nation would want to cause the most deaths possible. More deaths equal more terror, and that’s their end goal.

Everyone already knows that The White House, federal buildings, air-force bases, and military bases are targets. Modern Survival Blog made a popular nuclear targets map that many preppers have used to pick safe spots.

US Target Map

Photo Credit: Modern Survival Blog

Large Cities  and Areas That Might Be a Target

First, let’s look at cities and metro areas that have at least 50 million people. Then, we look at areas that terrorists could easily enter due to their proximity to the border.

  • New York City, NY
  • Washington D.C.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Honolulu, HI

In 1990, FEMA created a map with potential nuclear targets. It is a bit dated since its 30 years old, but it’s a good resource to have to see the risks. This map shows us that the east coast, particularly from Maryland up towards Connecticut is full of potential targets. That’s not an area I would want to be. Neither is the coastline of California and most of the midwest states like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and southern Michigan.

Nuclear Targets in the United States

Active nuclear power plants are large targets as well. There are nine just on the east coast and more spread out over the continental United States. Right now, there are around 90 active nuclear plants in the United States, and more are on the books to be built.

Here are a few:

  • Southern Jersey Coast
  • Beaver Valley, PA
  • Braidwood, IL
  • Palo Verde, AZ
  • Sequoyah, TN
  • Browns Ferry, AL
  • Calvert Cliffs, MD
  • Byron, IL
  • Joseph M. Farley, AL

Bases That Could Be Targets

Something else to consider is that military bases can be targets as well. Stephen Schwartz offers a map of potential targets that are based on their military importance. These targets are spread widely around the country, but they include air force bases, ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile land-based bases), and nuclear storage locations. Hitting command centers is a smart idea if you’re a terrorist.

Identifying that a nuclear detonation is a risk in any area

Nuclear attacks are not always just aimed at big cities, other establishments might have a greater influence on the damage to a nation and its residents.

So where could a nuclear attack or nuclear detonation be made? One way it has been addressed by agencies in the past is to consider the strategic assets a specific location may have. These would be things such as:

  • Military Installations
  • Ammunitions depots
  • Industrial centers that, if destroyed, could cripple a nation’s supply economy
  • Foodbowl areas that would damage the food supply to a nation or its trade supply
  • Key infrastructures such as power plants, dams, and water reservoirs
  • Largely populated areas

According to the US Government’s nuclear response website,, potential targets can also include centers of governments and major ports and airfields.

This means that even if you are not in a built-up or metropolitan area, that you are deemed safe from a nuclear detonation, as there may be these assets nearby that are a considerable target for an attack.

The following is a 2017 map of potential nuclear targets based on government installations.

potential nuclear attack targets

2017 USA map of potential nuclear targets. Source: Reddit.

Safe Areas in the United States

You might think places like Montana would be safe, but there is a large nuclear plant in the center of the state. Most states have at least one or two possible targets.

Right now, Maine is considered fairly safe. There are no nuclear plants nearby nor does Maine have any significantly sized cities. A majority of Oregon and northern California are also regions with a better chance to survive a nuclear war. Also, the middle of Idaho should be a safe place to reside.

Another interesting map shows us the earthquake zones with nuclear reactor locations. That’s something to consider because a nuclear strike could potentially trigger an earthquake, so picking areas with lower possibilities of earthquakes are wise. This map recommends:

  • Eastern Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Parts of Nebraska and Kansas

If we go back to the FEMA map, we see that Idaho and Oregon still shows a lot of safe zones. FEMA didn’t include many dangers in Wyoming or Nevada. South Dakota is still safe, but this map shows a large target in North Dakota that might make it not an ideal pick. Maine is still empty of dangers.

What is the current approach to a nuclear attack?

The US Government’s page is at the forefront of government national emergency response efforts. As a joint effort from Homeland Security and emergency response agencies, the site addresses nuclear survival and nuclear preparedness.

How to Prepare for a Possible Nuclear Strike

The best tip is to not live in a major city. Sure, living in New York City might be exciting, but it’s an obvious nuclear target. It’s also wise to avoid living in the blast areas. If you live in the blast radius, you might experience several things, such as:

  • Rampant, uncontrollable fires
  • Nuclear fallout falling from the skies
  • Panicked and desperate people

Ultimately, we have no control over whether or not a nuclear strike happens, and that’s a scary feeling. We like to control our futures to the best of our ability, and this is one future in which we have no control.

Aside from picking a smart area to live, there are a few things that you can do to prepare for a nuclear strike.

Know Your Exit Routes

If you have to escape to a safer location, you need more than one exit route. Include several routes to get out of your home, including north, east, south, and west. If you do live in a metro area, you need several routes ready to go to escape if necessary.

Find The Closest Nuclear Bunker

Figure out ahead of time where your closest nuclear bunker is so you know exactly where to escape when the time comes.

Get Potassium Iodide Tablets

Most people don’t die from the first blast, but rather they die from the fallout and lasting problems in the months and years ahead. Potassium iodide tablets are a must-have and they’ll provide you with protection from the nuclear fallout.

Have a Plan to Bug In

Escaping isn’t always a possibility. You always need a plan to bug in and how to protect your home, windows, and doors from the fallout and radiation.

Understand Wind Movement

The wind will determine which way the fallout will spread more rapidly. Understanding the wind pattern lets you figure out how fast you need to escape and if you have additional time.

Get Your Bug Out Bag Ready

Nuclear strikes don’t always have warnings, which is scary. We want a warning so we have time to get home and prepare as the danger strikes. That’s not always how it works, so having your bug out bag ready to go is smart. Have a bag for each family member prepared and ready to go.

How Do I Know a Nuclear Threat is Serious?

So, how do you know that the threat is serious or that a strike happened? Here are a few ways to know that its time to evacuate the nuclear target areas.

Electronics Stop Working

Most experts believe a nuclear war will start with an EMP, so if all of your electronics stop working, the danger is coming. All they’d have to do is detonate a nuclear weapon about 300 miles above the United States, and it’ll darken all of the US, Canada, and Mexico.

An EMP will cut off our communication and our ability to retaliate. If we cannot communicate with our bases all of the country, we won’t be able to properly handle our troops

The News Announces A Nuclear Bomb Was Detonated

It doesn’t matter if the bomb was detonated in the next state or a country around the world. As soon as a nuclear war begins, all of humanity is at risk. If one of the nations is an ally to the United States, we may have to follow in defense. Usually, one bomb is followed by more, so head for the hills or get ready.

Explodes Miles Away But Didn’t Harm You

If you didn’t die, the fallout can cause you to have a lifetime of cancer and radiation ahead of you. The longer you’re exposed to radiation, the lower your chance of survival. So, once you know for sure that a nuclear bomb exploded within a close range of you, it’s time to bug out as fast as you can. Remember that the fallout is just as dangerous as the bomb. Wear masks.

If We Declare War on Another Nuclear Power

We would hope that our leaders wouldn’t put our nation in harm’s way by declaring war on a nuclear warhead holder, but anything is possible. If we declare war, it’s time to head to the hills into your bug-out cabin, or its time to start preparing for the worse.

The possibility of a nuclear war is a scary reality that we might face as a nation. Our world is constantly in turmoil. Use these US nuclear target map to help you figure out what are the safest (and most dangerous) areas for you to be in if you’re worried about a nuclear strike.

A more local approach to nuclear preparedness

While the US’ Homeland Services and FEMA are pushing the nuclear agenda as a national preparedness issue, some local government systems are adopting the approach and using their methods to promote the essentials of a nuclear attack response.

Southern California’s Ventura County launched a campaign in 2013 using pamphlets, a school training program, community meetings, and four Youtube videos on nuclear education. Their message is simple, “Get inside, stay inside, stay tuned” and the community response has been thankful for a simple community-driven preparedness approach.

Here is Ventura County’s video:

Expect to see more nuclear attack preparedness campaigns

As governments answer to the concerns over whether nations are ready for a nuclear attack or detonation, there seems to be a new level of transparency with governments opening up their preparedness strategies with the public.

A risk assessment and public health expert, David Ropeik, said the majority of public information campaigns about nuclear preparedness have been “too passive” and “not adequate.”

The ongoing threats from North Korea “create a huge opportunity to get this on our radar screen.” and  “the information is out there, most people just need to be alerted that it is there.”

National Center for Disaster Preparedness Director Irwin Redlener said informing the public has been slowed by concerns about creating an undue alarm. And that a worse failing by the Government would be to leave people in the dark about simple precautions that could save lives.

“The public should be treated as adults,” Redlener said. “We live in a complicated world and we want people to be prepared.”


Let me know your thoughts on this topic!