Many people ask how long they might expect to have to live in a shelter. There are no fixed answers. If your shelter is an expedient hole in the ground you might want to stay in it no longer than was absolutely necessary. Maybe as much as a couple of weeks. If you dug a pretty elaborate hole in the ground you might be able to expand upon it and make it into a place where you could survive through a winter.
If you owned space in a shelter city, like there is in southern Utah or southern California, you might plan to live there the rest of your life. The co-operative shelter that I have been describing in the previous paragraphs is not sufficiently elaborate that anyone would want to make it a permanent home. Some persons would probably be able to find larger and more adequate quarters elsewhere after a few weeks.
Others might improve upon the existing structure and remain there for a year or two until more adequate homes could be built elsewhere. Decontamination procedures would provide work areas, schools, and school grounds outside of the shelter where people would carry on their daily activities after a few weeks. However, it might be beneficial for young children and expectant mothers to sleep in the shelter or a similar structure for several months.
Certain occupations, such as decontamination crews, farmers who work on large un-decontaminated areas, explorers who go into unsurveyed areas, long distance truck drivers, and others who go out of well defined areas for the next several years, will have to be closely monitored to be sure their total exposure does not exceed established limits.
It should be apparent to the reader, from what has been said earlier, that a person may receive substantially larger total doses over a large period of time than over a short period of time, just as with sunlight. A person may easily recover from several small sunburns throughout the years, resulting from staying in the sun overlong for an hour or two each time. If they were to be exposed to the hot desert sun, that many hours all at once, they would succumb.
In the same way one may recover from a number of small radiation burns (although some controversy holds that one never recovers - this seems unlikely), and in just the same way one may receive small amounts of radiation and never feel ill. Just the same, certain biological conditions dictate that certain individuals, (particularly the reproductively active) should receive less radiation exposure and that others may receive much larger amounts.