Education & Science Video

How to Protect Ourselves in Case of a Nuclear Disaster: Immediate Measures to Take if Exposed to Radiation

Nuclear radiation is a serious and much-debated topic. Based on the most recent events, when a nuclear explosion occurred in Russia on August 8, 2019, we realize that the challenges of the times we live in are forcing us to know as many defense methods as possible in various limit-situations. It is vital to know the protection measures in case of a nuclear disaster.

The first recommendation for people in the area is to find shelter inside the house, to reduce radiation exposure. By staying inside, with the doors and windows closed, you can reduce your radiation exposure by up to 40%.

An enclosure in a building represents a good shelter. If you are told to stay home, work or school, do the following:

  • Enter a room.
  • Close all doors, windows and vents.
  • Turn off ventilation systems (if any).
  • Do not use phones unless absolutely necessary; the telephone lines must remain free for the operators of the Emergency Situations Service.
  • If you are in the car, turn off the windows and the ventilation system and leave the affected area.
  • If you were outdoors during the emergency, take off your clothes and lock them in plastic bags. Clean your hair and body by taking a shower. This precaution will remove the radioactive dust particles from you. When you put on other clothes, take them out from a closed closet.

In order to prevent the radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid, KI (potassium iodide) pills are recommended. They are recommended only in case of a major nuclear accident.

The stable (non-radioactive) iodine in these pills will be rapidly absorbed by the thyroid, thus preventing the radioactive iodine accumulation in the body. The radioactive iodine will then be eliminated faster from the body through the natural functions of the body. Another measure against inhalation of radioactive iodine is to stay home. Potassium iodide (KI) pills do not protect the body from other radioactive substances. The administration of KI pills should be done quickly as an emergency. Such pills will also be available at the Evacuated Reception Centers settled by the Public Authorities.

Iodine tablets have side effects and are not recommended for anyone

  • People suffering from hypersensitivity (allergy) to potassium iodide or any of the components of the drug (microcrystalline cellulose, sodium hydrogen carbonate, anhydrous colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate).
  • People suffering from one of the following rare diseases: dermatitis herpetiformis, skin disease where increased iodine intake should be avoided; vasculitis with no complement values.
  • People suffering from thyroid dysfunction, kidney dysfunction or autoimmune diseases will take iodine tablets only at the doctor’s recommendation.

The level of radiation increased by 4-16 times compared to normal levels, on August 8, 2019.

On August 8, the Arhanghelsk Automatic Radiation Monitoring System in six of the eight monitored points in Severodvinsk exceeded the gamma radiation level by 4-16 times compared to normal indices, said an official of the Rosghidromet, Iuri Pushkov.

The average radiation value for Severodvinsk is 0.11 ľSv/h (micro-Sievert/hour). After the peak of radiation during the morning of 0.45 ľSv/h – 1.6 ľSv/h (micro-Sievert/hour), the values ​​began to fall and at 14:30 local time the radiation levels in the city returned to normal, varying between 0.13 and 0.16 ľSv/h (micro-Sievert/hour), according to the publication

The incident occurred on a platform at sea near Severodvinsk. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that two people had died. Later, the Russian Nuclear Agency Rosatom announced that five of its employees had lost their lives following a failed test, and three others were injured. The Moscow Ministry of Defense has classified the information about this incident, and the press release regarding the increase of the radiation level has been withdrawn from the Internet.

International experts and representatives of US intelligence have advanced the hypothesis that the explosion near Severodvinsk occurred during the testing of a new type of weapon. According to them, it would be a ‘Burevestnik’ nuclear propulsion cruise missile (‘Albatross’/SSC-X-9 Skyfall in NATO coding).

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