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Preparedness 2013 Campaign - Radiological Emergencies

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  • Preparedness 2013 Campaign - Radiological Emergencies

    NPM13: Radiological Emergencies

    Photo Credit CDC PHE

    Note: This is day 23 ofNational Preparedness Month. Follow this year?s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NPM or #NPM13 hash tag.
    This month, as part of NPM13, I?ll be rerunning some updated preparedness essays, along with some new ones (like this one).
    # 7801

    For most Americans, the idea that we might have to deal with a radiological emergency sounds like something out of the Cold War era (1950s to the1980s), when multiple Soviet warheads were targeted on every major American city and nuclear annihilation seemed all but unavoidable . Today, we?ve pulled back from that brink, have reduced our nuclear stockpiles by 80%, and a global thermonuclear war seems unlikely.

    But radiological threats remain, both due to deliberate acts, and due to accidents and natural disasters. One need look only as far as the Fukushima disaster of 2011 to see how quickly a radiological emergency can affect a large population.
    This from the CDC?s PHE website:

    A radiological or nuclear incidents occurring within the U.S. homeland or elsewhere could take a number of forms, including: contamination of food or water with radioactive material; placement of radiation sources in public locations; detonation of radiological dispersal devices that scatter radioactive material over a populated area; an attack on a nuclear power plant or a high-level nuclear waste storage facility; or an improvised nuclear device.
    The CDC, HHS, FEMA, and other agencies take these threats seriously, as is evidenced by a multi-million dollar contract let last week by the HHS to stockpile Thrombosomes ? freeze-dried platelets ? used for the treatment of acute radiation sickness.
    HHS funds development of freeze-dried platelets for disaster response
    New product could improve care for Acute Radiation Syndrome and daily medical care

    Date: September 20, 2013
    Organization: Cellphire Inc. of Rockville, Md.
    Funding: This contract is for $11 million in the first 18 months and can be extended if milestones are met for a total of up to five years and up to $56.7 million.
    About this contract: Cellphire will further develop Thrombosomes as a possible treatment for acute radiation syndrome. Thrombosomes is a novel freeze-dried blood product derived from human platelets.
    Using a proprietary stabilization method, Cellphire can convert platelets into a powder that can be stored at room temperature for extended periods. When the product is needed, the powder can be reconstituted rapidly using sterile water and injected to restore normal clotting.
    (Continue . . .)
    The CDC?s Public Health Emergency Website lists six types of radiological threats, with links to tell you more about them.

    Nuclear Emergencies

    • A nuclear emergency involves the explosion of a nuclear weapon or improvised nuclear device (IND).
    • The explosion produces an intense pulse of heat, light, air pressure, and radiation.
    • Nuclear explosions produce fallout (radioactive materials that can be carried long distances by the wind).

    Learn more about nuclear emergencies
    Dirty Bomb or Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD)

    • A dirty bomb (also known as a radiological dispersal device) is a mix of explosives such as dynamite, with radioactive powder or pellets.
    • A dirty bomb cannot create an atomic blast.
    • When the explosives are set off, the blast carries radioactive material into the surrounding area.

    Learn more about dirty bombs
    Radiological Exposure Device (RED)

    • A radiological exposure device (also called a hidden sealed source) is made of or contains radioactive material.
    • REDs are hidden from sight to expose people to radiation without their knowledge.

    Learn more about radiological exposure devices
    Nuclear Power Plant Accident

    • An accident at a nuclear power plant could release radiation over an area.
    • Nuclear power plants have many safety and security procedures in place and are closely monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

    Learn more about nuclear power plant accidents
    Transportation Accidents

    • It is very unlikely that a transportation accident involving radiation would result in any radiation-related injuries or illnesses.
    • Shipments involving significant amounts of radioactive material are required to have documentation, labels, and placards identifying their cargo as radioactive.

    Learn more about transportation accidents
    Occupational Accidents

    • Radiation sources are found in a wide range of settings such as health care facilities, research institutions, and manufacturing operations.
    • Accidents can occur if the radiation source is used improperly, or if safety controls fail.

    Learn more about occupational accidents

    Preparing for a radiological emergency isn?t so very different from what you would do for any other type of disaster. You want to be prepared to shelter-in-place, stay out of harm?s way, and keep up with advisories. Steps that are explained on PHE?s Radiation Emergencies - What should I do? webpage.

    Get Inside
    Get Inside

    In a radiation emergency you may be asked to get inside a building and take shelter for a period of time.
    • This action is called "sheltering in place."
    • Get to the middle of the building or a basement, away from doors and windows.
    • Bring pets inside.

    Learn about sheltering options
    <hr> Stay Inside
    Stay Inside

    Staying inside will reduce your exposure to radiation.
    • Close and lock windows and doors.
    • Take a shower or wipe exposed parts of your body with a damp cloth.
    • Drink bottled water and eat food in sealed containers.

    Learn what to do while taking shelter
    <hr> Stay Tuned
    Stay Tuned

    Emergency officials are trained to respond to disaster situations and will provide specific actions to help keep people safe.
    • Use radios, televisions, computers, mobile devices, and other tools to get the latest information.
    • Emergency officials will provide information on where to go to get screened for contamination.

    Learn how to stay informed

    The goal of NPM2013 is to foster a culture of national preparedness, and to encourage everyone to plan and be prepared to deal with any disaster where they can go at least 72 hours without electricity, running water, local services, or access to a supermarket.

    These are, of course, minimum goals.

    Disruptions that accompany hurricanes, floods, pandemics, and yes . . . even radiological disasters . . can potentially last for days or even weeks, and so ? if you are able to do so - being prepared for 10 days to 2 weeks makes a good deal of sense (see When 72 Hours Isn?t Enough).

    While a radiological hazard may be far down your list of `probable? threats, the common sense steps you take to prepare for any disaster will serve you well, even in a radiation emergency. For more on `all hazards? preparedness, I?d invite you to visit:
    And you can use this link to read earlier NPM preparedness posts on this blog.

    Posted by Michael Coston at <a class="timestamp-link" href="" rel="bookmark" title="permanent link"><abbr class="published" itemprop="datePublished" title="2013-09-23T11:52:00-04:00">11:52 AM</abbr>

    <a class="timestamp-link" href="" rel="bookmark" title="permanent link"><abbr class="published" itemprop="datePublished" title="2013-09-23T10:37:00-04:00"></abbr>