Radiation Exposure Protection

How do I protect myself and others from exposure to radiation?
The 3 basic ways to reduce radiation exposure are through:
  • Distance - Increase your distance from a radiation source.
  • Shielding - Increase the shielding between you and the radiation source. Shielding is anything that creates a barrier between people and the radiation source. Depending on the type of radiation, the shielding can range from something as thin as a plate of window glass or as thick as several feet of concrete. Being inside a building or a vehicle can provide shielding from some kinds of radiation.
  • Time - Decrease the amount of time you spend near the source of radiation.
After a release of radioactive materials, local authorities will monitor the levels of radiation and determine what protective actions to take.

The most appropriate action will depend on the situation. Tune to the local emergency response network or news station for information and instructions during any emergency.

Shelter in Place
If a radiation emergency involves the release of large amounts of radioactive materials, you may be advised to “shelter in place,” which means to stay in your home or office; or you may be advised to move to another location.

If you are advised to shelter in place, you should do the following:
  • Close and lock all doors and windows.
  • Close fireplace dampers.
  • If possible, bring pets inside.
  • Keep your radio tuned to the emergency response network or local news to find out what else you need to do.
  • Move to an inner room or basement.
  • Turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside. Only use units to recirculate air that is already in the building.
If you are advised to evacuate, follow the directions that your local officials provide. Leave the area as quickly and orderly as possible. In addition:
  • Take:
    • A flashlight
    • A first-aid kit
    • A hand-operated can opener
    • A portable radio
    • A supply of sealed food and water
    • Batteries
    • Cash and credit cards
    • Essential medicines
  • Take pets only if you are using your own vehicle and going to a place you know will accept animals. Emergency vehicles and shelters usually will not accept animals.