Radiation Threat

A radiation threat, commonly referred to as a “dirty bomb,” is the use of common explosives to spread radioactive materials over a targeted area.

  • The force of the explosion and radioactive contamination will be localized.
  • The blast will be immediately obvious, the presence of radiation will not be clearly defined until trained personnel with specialized equipment are on the scene.
  • Avoid breathing radiological dust that may be released in the air.

Before A Radiation Threat

  • 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 A Radiation Threat

  • If you are outside and there is an explosion or authorities warn of a radiation release nearby, cover your nose and mouth and quickly go inside a building that has not been damaged.
  • If you are already inside, check to see if your building has been damaged. If your building is stable, stay where you are and close windows and doors. Also, turn off air conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems.
  • If you are inside and there is an explosion nearby or you are warned of a radiation release inside, cover nose and mouth and go outside immediately. Look for a building or other shelter that has not been damaged and quickly get inside. Once you are inside, close windows and doors, turn off air conditioners, heaters or other ventilation systems.
  • If you think you have been exposed to radiation, take off your clothes and wash as soon as possible.
  • Stay where you are, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for official news as it becomes available.
  • Remember, to limit the amount of radiation you are exposed to, think about time, distance and shielding:
    • Time: Minimizing time spent exposed will also reduce your risk.
    • Distance: The farther away you are away from the blast and fallout, the lower your exposure.
    • 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.

After A Radiaiton Threat

  • 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.
    • Seek medical attention after officials indicate it is safe to leave shelter.
  • Continue listening to your radio or watch the television for instructions from local officials, whether you have evacuated or sheltered-in-place.
  • Do not return to or visit an RDD incident location for any reason.