For those who don’t work in radioactive careers, or in jobs that expose them to radiation, the threat of radioactive exposure is minimal. That changes, however, in the event of a radiological attack resulting in heavy amounts of fallout or from a nuclear disaster (such as the Fukishima nuclear disaster back in 2011). In cases like these, a greater public awareness about radiation, and what to do if a radiological attack/accident occurs, reduces the amount of widespread harm.
Protect yourself from a radiological attack or nuclear accident
Here are some of the steps you can take to prepare yourself – and your family – from harmful radiation exposure.
Resist the urge to evacuate
Humans are biologically wired with a fight or flight response to a threat or widespread emergency. In the case of a nuclear attack or meltdown of some sort, however, you need to fight this urge. Unless the authorities tell you to evacuate, it’s imperative that you stay indoors.
During the immediate aftermath, radiation experts will assess the fallout and map the pattern to create an evacuation plan that limits the public’s radiation exposure as much as possible. If recommended, move to the nearest and largest safe building. If you happen to be in the thick of the plume, stay away from the doors, windows and roof or the building.
If you have children, do not go to their school or day care and pick them up unless the authorities have told you it’s safe. This understandable desire to “protect” can actually make you all very sick if it exposes you and/or family members to direct radiation.
The key is to go inside, stay inside and tune in to the news reports.
Be prepared for this and any other potential disaster
It makes sense to be prepared for any potential disaster, whether you live near a nuclear power plant or not. There’s hardly a single place in the country where people aren’t at risk for some kind of natural disaster – ranging from earthquakes and hurricanes to tornadoes or, yes, nuclear events of some kind.
Ideally, your household should be prepared for at least three days of quarantined life – not dependent on any outside sources. This includes things like:
- Bottled water (in the case of nuclear disaster, outside water sources – water from the tap – might be contaminated so only drink or use water that is already inside the home – such as bottled water or even toilet tank water, as well as other bottled beverages or liquids).
- Food – plan for foods that don’t require heating to consume since power in all forms might be shut off in the event of a disaster.
- Illumination – flashlights and candles are all good to have in a convenient location. Solar lanterns are a great option as well because they can be charged via the ambient light that comes through windows.
- Extra protection – if you do live near a nuclear power plant, it’s not a bad idea to have extra forms of radiation protection on hand – like a Tyvek suits, gloves and/or masks in case you need to evacuate in the thick of the plume or leak.
Eventually, when it’s safe to evacuate, hydration and nourishment will pay off in the form of increased energy and alertness.
Share the plan with the family
By no means do you want to create a culture of unnecessary fear in your family. On the flip side, families who are prepared will weather the storm of a radiological event better than those who are unprepared. If you have children in daycare or at school, take it upon yourself to create an emergency pack for them that is kept in the classroom, in their cubby or their desk (this might be a smart thing to address class wide if the teacher doesn’t already have something like this in place. It’s also a smart idea to establish an “emergency pack” policy at your place of work.
Using a gallon Ziploc back, you can include a picture of yourself or your family and a comforting and loving letter that can be read to your children until you are reunited. Additionally, you can include:
- Tins of tuna with self-opening lids
- Cans of beans with self-opening lids
- Packages of applesauce and pudding
- Nuts or trail mix
- A plastic spoon/fork and napkins
Also, inform your children of the plan to stay put unless authorities tell them otherwise. Create a communication and reunification plan. Where will you all meet once the sheltering order is lifted? Contacting each other might not be possible, but an out-of-are grandparent or close family friend can serve as the “communication central” so everyone can call separately to check in.
Preparing yourself for a nuclear or radioactive disaster really is that simple. Begin preparing and discussing these steps with your co-workers, family and friends. Again, the idea is not to raise the fear factor or unnecessary levels of anxiety, but to get a plan in place. The more prepared we all are in the midst of any disaster, the less panic ensues and the better the overall outcomes.
Interested in learning more ways to protect yourself from the effects of harmful radiation? Visit the Lancs Industries website to view a wide range of radiation shielding and protection products.
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