Disaster Supplies Kit
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Landslides and debris flow
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies
Radiological dispersion device events
Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
Nuclear Power Plants
Nuclear power plants use the heat caused from nuclear
fission to convert water to steam, which powers generators
to produce electricity. Nuclear power plants operate
throughout the country; producing about 20 percent of the
nationís total power.
Although the construction and operation of these facilities
are closely monitored and regulated by the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC), accidents are possible. An
accident could result in dangerous levels of radiation that
could affect the health and safety of the public living near
the nuclear power plant.
Local and state governments, federal agencies and electric
utilities have emergency response plans in the event of a
nuclear power plant incident. The plans define two emergency
planning zones. One zone covers an area within a 10-mile
radius of the plant, where it is possible that people could
be harmed by direct exposure. The second zone covers a
broader area, up to a 50-mile radius from the plant, where
radioactive materials could contaminate water supplies, food
crops and livestock.
The prospective danger from a nuclear power plant incident
is exposure to radiation. This exposure comes from the
release of radioactive material into the environment,
characterized by a plume of radioactive gases and particles.
The major hazards to people in the vicinity of the cloud
like formations are radiation exposure to the body from the
cloud and particles deposited on the ground, inhalation of
radioactive materials and ingestion of radioactive
Radioactive materials are composed of atoms that are
unstable. An unstable atom gives off its excess energy until
it becomes stable, emitting radiation. Each of us is exposed
to radiation from natural sources, including the Sun and the
Earth. Small traces of radiation are present in food and
water. Radiation also is released from man-made sources such
as X-ray machines, television sets and microwave ovens. The
longer a person is exposed to radiation, the greater the
effect. A high exposure to radiation can cause serious
illness or death.
Minimizing Exposure to Radiation
Distance - The more distance between you and the source of
the radiation, the better. This could be evacuation or
remaining indoors to minimize exposure.
Shielding - The heavier and dense material between you and
the source of the radiation, the better.
Time - Most radioactivities loses its strength fairly
If an accident at a nuclear power plant released radiation
in your area, local authorities would activate warning
sirens or another alert method. They also would instruct you
through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on local television
and radio stations on how to protect yourself.
Know the Terms:
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a
nuclear power plant emergency:
Notification of Unusual Event: A small problem has occurred
at the plant. No radiation leak is expected. No action on
your part will be necessary.
Alert: A small problem has occurred and small amounts of
radiation could leak inside the plant. This will not affect
you and no action is required.
Site Area Emergency: Area sirens may be sounded. Listen to
your radio or television for safety information.
General Emergency: Radiation could get outside of the plant
and off the plant site. The sirens will sound. Tune to your
local radio or television station for reports. Be prepared
to follow instructions promptly.
Take Protective Measures
What can I do Before a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency?
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 these materials
yearly from the power company or your state or local
What do I do During a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency?
Keep a battery-powered radio with you at all times and
listen to the radio for specific instructions.
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
Go to a basement or other underground area, if possible
Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary
If you suspect you have been exposed to nuclear radiation:
Change clothes and shoes
Put exposed clothing in a plastic bag
Seal the bag and place it out of the way
Take a thorough shower
Keep food in covered containers or in the refrigerator. Food
not previously covered should be washed before being put in
What do I do After a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency?
Seek medical treatment for any unusual symptoms, such as
nausea, that may be related to radiation exposure.
Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster