Surviving a Nuclear Disaster: Radiation Fallout

Being prepared for an emergency situation is the best way to minimize the effect that you and your family will suffer from one. It is important to be prepared for any situation in which harm may come your way.Recently it is radiation exposure that is in the news. 

People want to know how to survive should a nuclear disaster strike in their direction. The threat of nuclear war and the recent Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant crisis in Japan have brought about a renewed desire to know the preventative measures, symptoms, and treatments should this type of disaster occur.

Radiation travels. Even if you are not in the immediate area where the event occurs you may still be at risk of exposure. In the event of a fallout there are steps that you can take to help protect yourself and your family from radiation poisoning. Keep a well stocked emergency kit handy and know what to do should an emergency occur.

There are Two Basic Forms of Radiation Exposure

1. Initial radiation: Occurs immediately at the time of the explosion. Individuals in the immediate area can suffer radiation burns and a high level of radiation poisoning if they are not sufficiently sheltered.

2. Residual radiation: Typically known as radiation fallout. The radioactive particles, dust, and other debris that were released into the air from the nuclear explosion now begin to rain back down again. This dispersal of material can cover very large distances as was witnessed during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

There are then basically three factors which can influence the amount of radiation exposure or lack of exposure you may encounter in the event of a nuclear radiation fallout:

1. Distance from the radiation: The farther away that you are from the radiation then the less radiation that you are likely to be exposed to.

2. Amount of time that you are exposed to the radiation: The shorter time that you are exposed to the radiation then the less likely will be your degree of radiation poisoning. ie: one minute versus one hour exposure.

3. The degree of shielding between you and the radiation: The thickness and density of the barrier between you and the radiation can greatly influence your degree of exposure to radiation.

Symptoms of Radiation Poisoning

1. Mild radiation exposure will usually display itself within 6 hours with nausea and vomiting. Person may experience weakness or fatigue within the first month after exposure.

2. Moderate radiation exposure: nausea and vomiting within 2 hours. Diarrhea, headache, and fever within 24 hours. Bloody vomit or stools, low blood pressure, weakness, fatigue, infections, poor wound healing, or loss of hair within the first month after exposure.

3. Severe radiation exposure: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fever within 4 hours. Bloody vomit or stools, low blood pressure, weakness, fatigue, infections, poor wound healing, or loss of hair within the first week after exposure.

4. Acute radiation exposure: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fever within 2 hours. Bloody vomit or stools, dizziness, low blood pressure, weakness, fatigue, infections, poor wound healing or loss of hair immediately after exposure.

What to do if a Nuclear Event Occurs

1. If you can get away from where the radiation is before it reaches you - do so. The farther away from the nuclear radiation that you are, the safer you are.

2. Find shelter and protect yourself from exposure. Putting a barrier between yourself and the nuclear fallout is perhaps the most important first step that you can make. For those close to a radiation blast: If you cannot reach shelter fall to the ground (in a ditch or hole if at all possible) and try to protect your skin from exposure. When you reach shelter remove your outer clothing and put them in a plastic bag. Shower to remove any contamination that you may have picked up.

3. If you are taking shelter in your home block all vents cracks, and openings in your home (ie: under and around doorways). Stay toward the centre area of your home for at least the first 48 hours. Stay away from windows and walls. You can unblock your vents once the fallout stops. If it is at all possible do not leave your home for at least 2 weeks. Wait for the radiation fallout to end and disperse before you attempt to venture out.

4. The water in your taps will not be immediately contaminated so take advantage of the first few crucial hours to tap into the water supply that is still in your water pipes. Having enough fluids will be one of the most crucial aspects of surviving a severe nuclear radiation fallout. Be prepared by having stored bottled water. Keep at least a two month food supply in your home. It may look normal outside but it probably isn't. The contamination can remain for a long period of time.

Treatment for Radiation Poisoning

1. Antibiotics to help prevent infections.

2. Potassium Iodide used to help prevent thyroid cancer in the event of radiation exposure. This drug should not be used as a preventative measure and should be used only on the advice of a qualified physician.

3. Seaweeds or Algae may help in radiation detoxification. Kelp, Chlorella, Spirulina, and other seaweeds can be used as a natural source of iodine thyroid treatment. However it is important to note that care must be taken in these treatments so as to avoid harm to the body.

4. Zeolites have been used with some success to help in reducing the effects of radiation poisoning in the young victims of Chernobyl.

5. An antioxidant rich diet is recommended after exposure to help reduce the incidence of free radicals within the body. In preparing your emergency kit include a supply of vitamins. These will help to supplement your diet after the incident.

Take Into Account the Travel Time for
Radiation to Reach You

Radiation will travel quite a distance as witnessed in the Chernobyl disaster. The Neighbouring countries of Belarus, Sweden, and others were affected by the nuclear radiation fallout from this disaster.

We now know that Japan's nuclear crisis can affect the radiation levels in Canada and the United States as the particles travel with the jet stream toward us. In the United States trace amounts of radiation from Japan's nuclear fallout were detected at some west coastal testing stations. The levels of radiation detected in Canada remained extremely low. Radiation levels are being detected and monitored on a regular basis. Tests within Canada are showing that it currently takes approximately seven days for the nuclear fallout from Japan to reach Canada's shores. As we are quite far from the nuclear fallout we can expect to receive a much lower degree of radiation fallout than those who are closest to Japan.

Being Prepared for an Emergency Could Save Your Life

Don't get caught off guard. Be prepared no matter the situation. For an earthquake, power outage, or other major event a little advance fore thought can be a lifesaver should a disaster strike.

1. Insure that your medicine cabinet is stocked and that you have enough food in your cupboards to last at least two months. Keep cases of juice and bottled water in your stocks. Vitamins, antibiotics, and protein supplements are very important items to stock.

2. In the event of an emergency water is often the most pressing need. Save your milk containers, clean them, fill them with water, and store them in your freezer as an emergency water source. Refill the jugs every six months to insure their freshness.

3. Don't be caught off guard. Know what to do in case of an emergency in your area. Do your research.

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