A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surfaces for miles around. During a nuclear incident, it is important to avoid radioactive material, if possible. While experts predict that a nuclear attack at this time is less likely than other types, terrorism by its nature is unpredictable. The World Health Organization recommends these steps if a nuclear blast occurs:
IF YOU ARE NEAR THE BLAST:
- Turn away and close and cover your eyes to prevent damage to your sight
- Drop to the ground face down and place your hands under your body
- Remain flat until the heat and two shock waves have passed
IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE WHEN THE BLAST OCCURS:
- Find something to cover your mouth and nose, such as a scarf, handkerchief, or other cloth
- Remove any dust from your clothes by brushing, shaking, and wiping in a ventilated area. However, cover your mouth and nose while you do this.
- Move to a shelter, basement, or other underground area, preferably located away from the direction that the wind is blowing.
- Remove clothing since it may be contaminated. If possible, take a shower, wash your hair, and change clothes before you enter the shelter.
IF YOU ARE ALREADY IN A SHELTER OR BASEMENT:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a facemask or other material (such as a scarf or handkerchief) until you know that the fallout cloud has passed.
- Shut off ventilation systems and seal doors or windows. After the fallout cloud has passed, unseal the doors and windows to allow some air circulation.
- Stay inside until authorities say it is safe to come out
- Listen to the local radio or television for information and advice. Authorities may direct you to stay in your shelter or evacuate to a safer place.
- If you must go out, cover your mouth and nose with a damp towel
- Use stored food and drinking water. Do not eat local fresh food or drink water from open water supplies.
- Clean and cover any open wounds on your body
IF YOU ARE ADVISED TO EVACUATE:
- Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for official news and instructions about when to evacuate, what routes to use, temporary shelters and procedures to follow.
- Before you leave, close and lock windows and doors and turn off air conditioning, vents, fans, and furnace. Close fireplace dampers
- Take your Go Bag with you.
Get more information about nuclear blasts and other radiation emergencies on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov.
Learn more about how to prepare for a nuclear emergency at www.ready.gov.