What the US Environmental Protection Agency will say if nuclear disaster strikes

A nuclear explosion.
A nuclear explosion. Photo credit: Getty

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its advice for what citizens should do in the event of a nuclear emergency.

Despite the Cold War coming to an end decades ago, a nuclear emergency may yet occur in the future.

North Korea has been flexing its nuclear muscle, and incidents like the 2011 Fukushima earthquake - where a natural disaster led to a reactor meltdown - will certainly be fresh in the minds of the public.

The information released by the EPA goes over what officials should say in the event of a nuclear disaster, including where to hide and how to decontaminate yourself.

Here are some of the most important parts


What they'll say in the event of a disaster: "As appropriate: Lives have been lost, people have been injured, and homes and businesses have been destroyed.

"All levels of government are coordinating their efforts to do everything possible to help the people affected by this emergency.

"As lifesaving activities continue, follow the instructions from emergency responders... The instructions are based on the best information we have right now; the instructions will be updated as more information becomes available."

What you should do if you're in a car: "Cars and trucks provide little protection from radiation... Shut the windows and vents... Cover your nose and mouth... Go inside and stay inside."

What to do if you're outside: "Cover your nose and mouth... Don't touch objects or debris related to the release... Go inside and stay inside. "

What to do if you're in a building: "Stay inside. If the walls and windows of the building are not broken, stay in the building and don't leave.

"If the walls and windows of the building are broken, go to an inside room and don't leave. If the building has been heavily damaged, quickly go into another building… Close doors and windows."

How to decontaminate: "[T]ake several easy steps to remove any radioactive material that might have fallen onto clothes, skin or hair...

"Remove your outer clothes... Wash off... If you cannot shower, use a wet wipe or clean wet cloth to wipe any skin that was not covered by clothing...

"Gently blow your nose and gently wipe your eyelids, eyelashes and ears with a clean wet cloth... Put on clean clothes... "

According to Guam's Office of Civil Defense, people should also avoid using conditioner, which would cause fallout to stick to hair.

Drinking water: "[U]ntil we have drinking water test results, only bottled water is certain to be free of contamination.

"Tap or well water can be used for cleaning yourself and your food... Boiling tap water does not get rid of radioactive material."

What food is safe to eat: "Food in sealed containers (cans, bottles, boxes, etc.) and any unspoiled food in your refrigerator or freezer is safe to eat...

"Don't eat food that was outdoors from [TIME, DATE] in [AREA]."