Radiation is a type of energy. People are exposed to small amounts of radiation every day from sources such as sunlight. A radiation emergency would involve larger amounts of radiation and could be caused by
- Dirty bombs - a mix of explosives with radioactive powder
- Fallout from a nuclear bomb
- Accidental release from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear weapons plant
A lot of radiation over a short period can cause burns or radiation sickness. If the exposure is large enough, it can cause premature aging or even death.
Although there are no guarantees of safety during a radiation emergency, you can take actions to protect yourself. You should have a disaster plan. Being prepared can help reduce fear, anxiety and losses. If you do experience a disaster, it is normal to feel stressed. You may need help in finding ways to cope.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Contamination vs. Exposure (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Federal Emergency Management Agency Also in Spanish
- Frequently Asked Questions about Radiation Emergencies (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in Spanish
- Radiation Protection (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Also in Spanish
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Radiological/Nuclear Human Monitoring Tabletop Exercise: Recommendations and Lessons Identified.
- Article: Lessons Learned in Protection of the Public for the Accident...
- Article: Psychosocial Issues Related to Thyroid Examination After a Radiation Disaster.
- Radiation Emergencies -- see more articles