A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surfaces for miles around. During a nuclear incident, it is important to avoid radioactive material.
Before An Attack
- Find out from officials if any public buildings in your community have been designated as fallout shelters. If none have been designated, make your own list of potential shelters near your home, workplace and school. These places would include basements or the windowless center area of middle floors in high-rise buildings, as well as subways and tunnels.
- If you live in an apartment building or high-rise, talk to the manager about the safest place in the building for sheltering and about providing for building occupants until it is safe to go out.
- During periods of heightened threat, increase your Ready kit to be adequate for up to two weeks.
During An Attack
If There Is Advanced Warning
- If there is advanced warning, take cover immediately, as far below ground as possible. If you cannot get below ground, any shield or shelter will help protect you from the immediate effects of the blast and the pressure wave.
If There is No Warning
- Quickly assess the situation.
- Consider if you can get out of the area or if it would be better to go inside a building to limit the amount of radioactive material you are exposed to.
- If you take shelter, go as far below ground as possible, close windows and doors, turn off air conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems.
- Stay where you are, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news as it becomes available.
- To limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to, think about shielding, distance and time.
- Shielding: If you have a thick shield between yourself and the radioactive materials more of the radiation will be absorbed, and you will be exposed to less.
- Distance: The farther away you are away from the blast and fallout, the lower your exposure.
- Time: Minimizing time spent exposed will also reduce your risk.
- Use available information to assess the situation. If there is a significant radiation threat, health care authorities may or may not advise you to take potassium iodide.
- Potassium iodide is the same matter added to your table salt to make it iodized. It can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, protecting this gland from radiation injury.
After An Attack
- Expect to stay inside for at least 24 hours unless told otherwise by authorities.
- When evacuating is in your best interest, you will be instructed to do so. All available methods of communication will be used to provide news and instructions.
- If you were outside during or after the blast, get clean as soon as possible to remove radioactive material that may have settled on your body.
- Remove your clothing to keep radioactive material from spreading. Removing the outer layer of clothing can remove up to 90% of radioactive material.
- If practical, place your contaminated clothing in a plastic bag and seal or tie the bag. Place the bag as far away as possible from humans and animals so that the radiation it gives off does not affect others.
- Take a shower with lots of soap and water to help remove radioactive contamination. Do not scrub or scratch the skin.
- Wash your hair with shampoo or soap and water. Do not use conditioner in your hair because it will bind radioactive material to your hair, keeping it from rinsing out easily.
- Gently blow your nose and wipe your eyelids and eyelashes with a clean wet cloth. Gently wipe your ears.
- If you cannot shower, use a wipe or clean wet cloth to wipe your skin that was not covered by clothing.