LONDON - Argentina and Australia are the countries most likely to survive a nuclear war, a study has found.

Scientists at Rutgers University in New Jersey found that even if you avoid being among the initial deaths in a nuclear war, their indirect effect could leave five billion people to starve to death globally in the years after.

Australia and Argentina, as well as a swathe of nations in central Africa, have the best prospects because they grow more resistant crops, such as wheat, in large quantities and also have relatively smaller populations.

Russia is believed to have the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, with 4,497 nuclear warheads, following by the US, with 3,750, according to the Arms Control Association. The United Kingdom (UK) has just 225.

An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with nuclear warheads fired from Moscow or central Asia would probably take about 20 minutes to strike London.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s website says that home or office basements offer more protection than those on the ground floor, and recommends shielding behind dense materials such as thick walls, concrete, bricks, books and earth. Radioactive fallout poses the greatest threat to people during the first two weeks, by the end of which it has declined to about 1% of its initial radiation level, the website says.

A large-scale chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack has never happened in the UK, but the threat of one “cannot be ruled out”, according to the 2020 UK National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies.

Depending on the situation, UK authorities generally suggest moving away from the immediate source of danger and following the instructions of the emergency services, who may ask residents to remove outer clothing, or undergo some form of decontamination such as showering. In some situations, residents may be advised to take shelter in the nearest building, tune in to local and national news media, and await further instructions.

Back in 1980, facing a threat from Russia, the UK issued Protect and Survive, a 30-plus pamphlet advising Britons how to make a fallout room in their home; for example, in an understairs cupboard. Families were told to stock food supplies for at least two weeks and to store three-and-half gallons (16 litres) of water in baths and basins.