What can we do if we are thrust into a situation where nuclear contamination is a concern? With so many variables out of our control, here's how to prepare for what we can control.
1) Be prepared to shelter in place. Make a kit and train your family. Do it now.
- Know local risks and listen for the alert or notification.
- Go to a room on the top floor, with fewest windows and vents.
- Turn off fans and ventilation systems in whole house.
- Take shelter in place kit with you. (Add duct tape, large sheets of plastic, and a bucket to your current emergency kit.)
- Close doors and windows, seal all openings to the room with tape and plastic.
- Listen to media for further instructions.
3) Chemical emergencies usually only last an hour or more. Depending on the contamination, nuclear incidents could last more. If you live within 50 miles of a reactor, check with local authorities for plans and preferred evacuation routes. Include such information in your family preparedness plan.
4) Stay where you are! Even if you are in your car (perhaps stranded), staying enclosed is a greater protection than leaving your home, work, or car seeking shelter nearby. If you are outdoors, seek the closest immediate shelter.
5) Radiation sickness can often be avoided or treated. Be certain to indoors and follow instructions. First responders will try to contain and decontaminate the area (and you, if needed). Do not expose others by moving about before you are permitted. Decontamination will be simplified if everyone cooperates.
6) Most related illnesses are caused by high levels or longer terms of exposure to contaminants. Symptoms may be slow and/or subtle to manifest. Report concerns and symptoms and seek treatment for concern over the next several months.