Last week, I reviewed a disaster-survival book about a nuclear meltdown and also listed some of the pros and cons associated with nuclear energy. Regardless of how you feel about the safety and wisdom of nuclear power plants, they already exist. There is also that outside possibility that “nukes” would accidentally or intentionally be launched onto U.S. soil. We need to think about how we would deal with that.
To begin with, you probably want to know how close you are to a nuclear reactor. Beyond that, you want to look at the typical wind patterns and see how likely you are to be “downwind” in the case of a release of radiation. These things may impact how much money and time you allocate to preparing for this particular disaster scenario.
Steps to Take to Safeguard Yourself Before the Emergency
Consider storing and doing the following:
1. Potassium Iodate
If you want to prepare for the possibility of radiation, I would begin by buying some KIO3 tablets. It acts to “fill” your thyroid with safe iodine so that it will not absorb radioactive iodine in fallout. One of the major problems radiation victims suffer long-term is thyroid cancer. KIO3 a preventative. You have to take it before radiation reaches you or as soon as possible. It does not rid your thyroid of radioactive iodine after the fact. In other words, by the time you know you need it, it’s too late to order. Many in Japan sadly found that out.
Iodine-131 actually “decomposes” relatively quickly (within weeks or months). The danger from this particular radioactive particle is shorter lived than others.
2. Vitamin D and Vitamin K
These help rid your body of irregular cells- in other words, cells that may be affected by radiation and therefore replicating or acting improperly may be killed off better (appropriate apoptosis) in the presence of these two vitamins. Vitamin D also helps the body with DNA repair.
3. Potassium and Iron
These minerals may help in combating some of the radioactive particles that stick around longer. Cesium-137 has a “half-life” of 30 years. This is still commonly found in the ground around the old Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine. It is easily taken up by the body because it mixes well into liquids. It is also carried easily by the wind.
4. Other Antioxidants and Herbal Supplements
There isn’t a “magic bullet” for countering radiation, but some things are known to be helpful in protecting the body from the effects of radiation. Some of these include turmeric, gingko biloba, garlic, ginger,ginseng, melatonin, magnesium, and spirulina.
5. Choose a centrally located room in your home. It should be the one with the fewest windows, preferably a basement or storm shelter. Store supplies you may need there (the usual- food, water, medicine, clothes, flashlights…). Consider what you will do for pets or livestock.
6. Make sure all your loved ones know that this is where the family will gather in case of radiation.
What to Do at the Beginning of the Emergency
1. Remove all articles of clothing before entering your sheltered area if you have had any contamination risk. Doing so could remove up to 90% of the radiation and you do not want to bring it inside.
2. Wash as thoroughly as you can to get rid of what is on the surface of your body.
3. Close off all vents and stop drafts that may bring contaminated air into your shelter. If possible, seal off doors and windows with plastic sheeting and tape for the period of time that a radiation plume may be passing over. You can only stay sealed up without fresh air for a few hours though.
4. Keep your emergency radio on to find out updates. Hopefully, you will be able to track the direction of the radiation, find out about medical help, etc.
What to Do Afterward
In the days after radiation has been released, there are a few other things you may want to do to help protect yourself. Of course, stay inside as much as possible until you are sure it is relatively “safe” to venture out.
1. Eat whole grains and the foods high in the above mentioned nutrients. High fiber foods with phosphorus spend less time in the digestive tract and therefore help the body in eliminating all wastes. Also, being a plant and therefore low on the food chain, any toxins the whole grains may have been exposed to will be less concentrated than those found higher on the food chain.
2. Avoid some foods– highly processed, very fatty, and sugary things contain less nutrition anyway and are held in the GI tract longer.
In the final piece in this series, I will outline the symptoms radiation sickness, technically called Acute Radiation Syndrome.
Do you have anything to add? Have you taken any classes or found any good books with information you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments section.