Don’t believe what you see in the movies. According to a 2011 report commissioned by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, surviving fallout from a nuclear blast means taking shelter – NOT running away.
The Federation of American Scientists are primarily responsible for bringing public awareness to the valuable report entitled “National Capital Region: Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism.”
The key question posed by the report is “What would happen if a 10 kiloton nuclear explosive were detonated in downtown Washington, DC?”
Highlights of recommendations made by the report include:
- DUCK and COVER: After an unexplained dazzling flash of light, do not approach windows, and stay behind cover for at least a minute to prevent injuries from flying and falling debris, such as broken glass.
- GO IN, TUNE IN: The best initial action immediately following a nuclear explosion is to take shelter in the nearest and most protective building or structure and listen for instructions from authorities.
- DON’T DRIVE: If in a car, try to find shelter immediately until given official information. A car does not offer protection.
- STAY INDOORS: People should expect to remain sheltered for at least 12 to 24 hours. During that time, the intensity of fallout radiation will decrease greatly, allowing for less hazardous egress from dangerous fallout areas.
- GET CLEAN: Radioactive fallout particles can spread quickly and remain on the body and clothes until removed. Those in potentially fallout-contaminated areas should take off the outer layer of clothing (including shoes) and wipe or wash exposed skin and hair upon leaving a contaminated area.
Read the full report:
After the Fukushima disaster in Japan there was a great deal of debate as to how big of an evacuation radius is required for optimal safety. What size radius will ensure citizens closest to the incident will reach safety within a reasonable amount of time? Evacuation planning is complicated and fraught with danger, of both the physical and political kind.
Blogger Rod Adams, a former submarine Engineer Officer with experience in nuclear plant operation and design, discovered an important factoid buried deep within a report issued by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He noticed that the State of the Art Reactor Consequence Analysis (SOARCA) report published in November 2012 suggested that expanding evacuation zones from a 10-mile radius to a 20-mile radius around nuclear power plants may increase the exposure and risk of latent cancer fatalities (LCF) if an accident releases radioactive material.
The suggestion of increased risk to the population within 10 miles of a nuclear plant is attributed to slower evacuation speeds because of additional traffic congestion and delays that result from evacuation of a larger population. In this particular type of emergency evacuation, those beyond the area closest to the plant could potentially delay those most at risk or closest to the plant.
The Department of Homeland Security decided to address the issue of radius size determination with a custom designed mobile application.
The First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) application was developed in partnership with the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate’s (NPPD) Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) along with its Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP), and Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA).
The FiRST mobile app provides information directly to first responders on their smartphones or laptop computers on Windows, Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad) platforms. The mobile application provides geospatial information to help to quickly define safe distances to cordon-off around a potential bomb location or HAZMAT spill, calculate rough damage and injury contours, suggest appropriate roadblocks, determine when mandatory evacuation or shelter-in-place circumstances apply, and to identify nearby areas of particular concern such as schools, hospitals, care centers. Information is then displayed on Google Maps. First responders can also easily distribute incident details and annotated map images by email or text message.
Features of the software include:
- Display IED Mandatory Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place Zones for 8 pre-defined bomb sizes
- Display Isolation Zones and down-wind Protection Zones for over 3,000 chemicals
- Display distance to glass breakage, injury, and structural damage based on pre-defined bomb sizes (limited to users registering with a .gov, .mil, or .us email)
- Information displayed on phone maps, with similar functionality to zoom, search by address, current location, and map/satellite/hybrid views
- Automatically forecast weather from the National Weather Service (US only) or Meteorologisk Institutt (Worldwide)
- Results shown geographically as well as text based
- Search and display predefined points of interest (schools, nurseries, hospitals, police/fire stations, and government facilities) from GIS search services to identify key facilities within the incident area
- Run roadblock analysis service that identifies within seconds the optimal location of roadblocks to isolate the incident area
- Place and label points on the map to identify key locations
- One-button summary of results (text, map image, map data shape and kml file attachments) in an email to disseminate to other responding personnel
- Includes reference material from the 2008 ERG and important chemical contacts for quick calling
Store map images (including legends) for reference when connectivity prevents access to network maps
Find it here: http://www.ara.com/products/first.htm
Talk of radiation levels is all over the news and everyone seems to have a different opinion of what is an acceptable level of exposure. After the initial panic in the Western United States causing a run on potassium iodide tablets, thankfully most of our fears have proven unfounded.
The folks at InformationIsBeautiful.net have created a fantastic visual representation of radiation doses and what they mean to you. While radiation is to be avoided as much as possible, it is clear that it is a part of our every day natural lives.
Nuclear agencies generally measure the amount of radiation absorbed in sieverts. The typical exposure to radiation is measured in millisieverts, or thousandths of a sievert. People are generally exposed to about 3 millisieverts of radiation per year. Having an X-ray can give you 4 millisieverts, whereas a CT scan gives 10.
See the full size dosage chart here: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/radiation-dosage-chart/
You can purchase a downloadable PDF of the chart with all proceeds supporting the Japan crisis relief.