The potential danger from an accident at a nuclear power plant is exposure to radiation. This exposure could come from the release of radioactive material from the plant into the environment, usually characterized by a plume (cloud-like formation) of radioactive gases and particles. The major hazards to people in the vicinity of the plume are radiation exposure to the body from the cloud and particles deposited on the ground, inhalation of radioactive materials and ingestion of radioactive materials.


Before a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a nuclear power plant emergency:

Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You should add plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors to the kit in order be better prepared for a nuclear power plant incident. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate. This kit should include:

  • Copies of prescription medications and medical supplies.

  • Bedding and clothing, including sleeping bags and pillows.

  • Copies of important documents: driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, tax records, etc.

Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.

  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

  • You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.

  • Knowing your community's warning systems and disaster plans, including evacuation routes.

  • Notify caregivers and babysitters about your plan.

  • Make plans for your pets

Obtain public emergency information materials from the power company that operates your local nuclear power plant or your local emergency services office. If you live within 10 miles of the power plant, you should receive the materials yearly from the power company or your state or local government.

Building as Shielding











Numbers in this graphic stand for a 'dose reduction factor.' A dose reduction factor of 10 means that a person in that area would get 1/10th of the dose of a person in the open. A dose reduction factor of 200 means that a person in that area would receive 1/200th of the dose of a person out in the open.

During a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

If an accident at a nuclear power plant were to release radiation in your area, local authorities would activate warning sirens or another approved alert method. They also would instruct you through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on local television and radio stations on how to protect yourself.

  • Follow the EAS instructions carefully.

  • Minimize your exposure by increasing the distance between you and the source of the radiation. This could be evacuation or remaining indoors to minimize exposure.

  • If you are told to evacuate, keep car windows and vents closed; use re-circulating air.

  • If you are advised to remain indoors, turn off the air conditioner, ventilation fans, furnace and other air intakes.

  • Shield yourself by placing heavy, dense material between you and the radiation source. Go to a basement or other underground area, if possible.

  • Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary.

  • Stay out of the incident zone. Most radiation loses its strength fairly quickly.


After a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

The following are guidelines for the period following a nuclear power plant emergency:

  • Go to a designated public shelter if you have been told to evacuate or you feel it is unsafe to remain in your home.

  • Act quickly if you have come in to contact with or have been exposed to hazardous radiation.

  • Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities. You may be advised to take a thorough shower.

  • Change your clothes and shoes; put exposed clothing in a plastic bag; seal it and place it out of the way.

  • Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms, such as nausea, as soon as possible.

  • Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.

  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs may require additional assistance. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.

  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

  • Keep food in covered containers or in the refrigerator. Food not previously covered should be washed before being put in to containers. 





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