Responding to a Terrorist Attack Involving Radiation: Information to Help Protect Your Family
Help Protect Your Family
- Stay calm. Don't panic. An attack involving radioactive material sounds very frightening, but it may not pose much direct risk to county residents. Turn on the radio or TV right away, to hear official information about the actual risk and how you can protect yourself.
The attacker hopes to create terror. Experts believe it's unlikely there will be enough radioactive material spread over a wide area to cause radiation sickness or death. Minimize danger to yourself and others by remaining calm and listening to official emergency information.
- Shield yourself from radiation. Glass, concrete, metal, and other building materials will help to shield you from radiation. If you are outdoors, move inside.
- Wash and change your clothes. If you think you may have been directly exposed to radioactive materials, take a shower as soon as possible. Removing your outer clothing and washing your hair and exposed skin removes 95% of the contamination. Package any contaminated clothes or other articles in a plastic trash bag and seal it. Put the bag in a room people will not be using.
- Try to reduce the amount of radioactive materials you breathe in. Do not eat or drink anything that may have been exposed to radioactive material. If you are outdoors, breathe through a folded cloth to help filter out radioactive particles. If you are indoors, close the windows and put the ventilation system on recycled air.
- Put more distance between you and the source of radiation. If you are in the immediate area of a radiological attack - hundreds of feet - move away from the explosion and the source of radiation. A radiation dose drops off quickly with distance. If you double your distance from a source, the dose will drop by 75%. Evacuate in an orderly manner when instructed to do so.
- Emergency responders may ask you to shelter in place (stay where you are) rather then move, for safety reasons. Staying inside helps shield you from radiation.
Trained emergency response personnel
will identify the nature and severity of the problem, map the boundaries of the affected area, measure any contamination and set up barriers. They may ask people to move out of the most-contaminated areas, or stay and shelter in place. They may advise people on decontamination, monitor food and water for radioactive contamination, and begin the clean-up process with help from other agencies.
Help Create an Orderly Response to Protect Yourself and Others
- Avoid panic. Radiological terrorism is serious, and can create great disruption and inconvenience, but it's not likely to be life-threatening. The single best thing you can do is to keep your head and to act calmly.
- Review and follow the guidelines here. Follow instructions given to you by trained emergency response personnel.
- Recognize that an attack is a public disaster situation. Emergency response resources will be used where they are most needed. Be prepared to cope with disruptions in your normal life.
- Stockpile water, food, blankets, flashlights, a battery operated radio and first aid supplies, just as you would do cope with a severe winter storm, power outage or other emergency. Contact the American Red Cross for a Family Disaster Planning Guide.
For More Information
During or following any emergency, turn on your radio or television for the latest official information. Public safety officials will be giving radio and TV stations regular updates.
- Designated emergency broadcast stations are:
- AM 950 KAHI (mid-county area)
- AM 1530 KFBK (strong regional station, Sacramento to Donner Summit)
- AM 830 KNCO (mid-county area)
- AM 1490 KOWL and FM 93.9 (Tahoe area)
- AM 780 KOH (Reno area)
- Other radio and television stations will also be given emergency information for broadcast.
- Do not call 9-1-1 except to report an emergency.
- Further information on a radiological terrorist act.
- The Office of Emergency Services' public information line, 530-886-5310, will be staffed, or will direct you to other information. They will post further information on the County Web site, as it becomes available.
This information was compiled by the Placer County Operational Area Office of Emergency Services with assistance and information from:
- The Health Physics Society
- U.S. Army Domestic Preparedness Training Program, Hazmat Technician Course, Module 6, Radiological Materials
- Governor's Office of Emergency Services amd the California Specialized Training Institute
Placer County Operational Area Office of Emergency Services
530-886-5300 || www.placer.ca.gov/emergency