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Nuclear Accidents

Nuclear power is generally very safe, but there is always some risk of an accident at a power plant or during the transportation of nuclear materials. The risk with nuclear power is radiation. If your home is within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant, you are supposed to receive information every year from the government or the power company about what to do in an emergency. Get it, read it and be prepared. With a site emergency, sirens may sound and you should listen to the radio or TV for safety information. In a general emergency, there is a possibility that radiation could leak outside the plant. Listen to the emergency information and follow instructions quickly. You will be told to evacuate or to shelter in place.

Do exactly what officials tell you to do. If you are told to shelter in place, go to the basement or a concrete room if you have one, shut off ventilation, seal up the room, and listen for further information. If you are told to evacuate, roll up car windows, close the vents and re-circulate the air. Follow the evacuation routes you are given. The most likely source of radiation exposure is a plume of radioactive gases and particles that will be blown on the wind. Evacuation routes will be designed to keep everyone out of the plume. Take personal supplies like clothes and medicines with you if you must evacuate. You may be out of your house for a long time.

If you think you may have been contaminated with radiation, go to a special assistance center or a fire station for decontamination. Do not go to a hospital and do not get close to other people. If you canít get to a decontamination site, clean yourself the same way you would for hazardous chemicals. Carefully remove your clothing, including your shoes. Start from the top down and keep things away from your face. Cut off t-shirts and sweaters rather than pulling them over your head. Put everything in a plastic bag, seal the bag and put it out of the way and away from people. Put valuables like your wallet, watch and rings in a separate bag, close it and keep it near you. Take a thorough shower with soap and water and shampoo your hair. This will remove most radioactive material. Dress in clean uncontaminated clothing. Once you are clean, listen to officials for further instructions.