Nuclear and Radiological Incidents

A nuclear or radiological incident overseas, including from a nuclear facility, a dirty bomb attack, or other nuclear blast, can cause significant harm from the blast itself, the resulting heat, as well as radiological fallout. Incidents like these can be either accidental or deliberate, and can occur with little or no warning. Stay safe from such disasters by knowing what to do if or when a nuclear incident occurs.  

Take the following steps to keep you and your family safe before, during, and after a nuclear incident.

Before a Nuclear Incident:

  • Ensure you have an emergency supply kit that includes items such as bottled water, pre-packaged food, medicines, radios, and flashlights that will sustain you for at least 3 days.  
  • Identify possible shelter locations to take cover if you are away from your home when the incident occurs.

During a Nuclear Incident:

  • Get inside IMMEDIATELY. Seek shelter in basements or low-to-ground floor. Stay near structural, foundational walls and away from exterior windows and openings. Vehicles, mobile homes, and outdoor shelter areas do NOT provide sufficient shelter from nuclear fallout.
  • If outside during the incident, take cover behind anything that might offer protection. Lie face down to protect exposed skin from the heat and any debris.
  • After the initial incident passes, get inside the nearest and best shelter location. You only have a few minutes until the radiation is most dangerous.
  • Follow instructions from local authorities on how to stay safe.

After a Nuclear Incident:

  • Stay inside until advised by local media and authorities that it is safe to go outside.
  • Remove any possibly contaminated clothing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Do not consume any food or liquids that were uncovered outdoors and may have been exposed to contamination and nuclear fallout.
  • Seek prompt medical care for any sickness or injuries sustained in the incident.
  • Only if directed by medical professionals, be prepared to take potassium iodide pills, which reduce the absorption of radioactive iodide by the body. DO NOT take potassium iodide pills without being explicitly told to do so by medical authorities.

For further information on nuclear and radiological incidents, see:

Last Updated: May 15, 2023