If an explosion from a terrorist attack happens, you won’t automatically know whether there’s a radiation threat. In a radiation attack, commonly known as a “dirty bomb”, an explosive charge is used to disperse radiation over an area near the blast zone. Though it’s not a nuclear explosion, exposure to the radiation from a dirty bomb attack is still deadly.
In the event of a terrorist attack, you won’t immediately know whether there is radiation present. It’s better to assume that the threat is there, and react accordingly.
If you’re outdoors and there’s an explosion nearby, get inside to a safe location. Whether it’s your home, office, or another location, make sure the building is stable after the explosion. Close all the windows, and shut off all ventilation systems. Getting to a safe location won’t do any good if your air conditioner pulls radioactive dust into the house.
If you’re in a building where an explosion has taken place, leave immediately and go to another spot that’s safe. If possible, get to your car and get out of the area.
How to Breathe
When you’re evacuating from an area, or close by a location where an explosion has occurred, cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve or a piece of cloth. If you have a well-stocked emergency kit, you probably already have a N95 mask available. Wear it if you have it. You have to do as much as possible to avoid breathing the air, because it may be contaminated. Even if there was no radiation involved in the attack, explosions can still stir up harmful chemicals and particulates that are hazardous to breathe.
How to Prepare Your Home for a Radiation Threat
If you have the space available, set aside a “safe room” in your house, that’s ready in the event of a dirty bomb attack. You’ll want to store supplies ahead of time, so that you can react quickly when the time comes. This includes enough storable food and water to survive for several days. You’ll also want materials that can be used to seal off any drafts, open spaces or air ducts. Consider purchasing a pocket-sized radiation detector.
A hand cranked or battery operated radio will be a necessity if a radiation threat is nearby. Listen for updates on the air quality and/or whether it’s safe to go outside again.
If You’re Exposed to Radiation
If you suspect you’ve come into contact with radioactive dust, you need to act fast. Get out of your clothes and get into a shower quickly. Seek medical help as soon as you can.
As with any emergency, having a well-stocked emergency supply kit at home and in your car can increase your chances of survival. If a radiation threat is present from a dirty bomb attack, remember to act quickly and get out of the area, preferably to a safe indoor location, and use your mask to breathe. It could save your life.