Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority

What can I do?

Radioactive contamination and radiation can cause damage to health. If a nuclear incident affects us, the Crisis Committee for Nuclear Preparedness will provide advice or instructions on how we can protect ourselves. 

Last updated: 19. mars 2021 14:06

IN SHORT

What you can do to protect yourself – measures that can reduce the consequences after a nuclear accident:

  • Stay indoors
  • Take iodine tablets
  • Take a shower if you have been contaminated
  • Follow dietary advice
  • Respect official regulations on safety cordons, decontamination or evacuation

The situation could change quickly. You should therefore check the radio, TV or internet for up-to-date details of the official advice. 

Stay indoors

If there is expected to be a lot of radioactivity in the air or on the ground, you may be advised that it is safest to stay indoors (in your home, in institutions, workplaces, etc.). 

As children are more sensitive to radioactivity than adults and can more easily pick up radioactivity from the ground, the advice may be that children should stay indoors while adults can go out. Pregnant women may also be advised to stay inside. 

The time you need to stay indoors will normally be short, and no more than 48 hours. 

Why stay indoors? 

The idea is to protect yourself from radioactive contamination, so you are exposed to less radiation and avoid breathing in radioactive air in your vicinity. 

What should I do? 

  • Go indoors.  
  • Close doors, windows and air ducts and shut off the ventilation. Heat pumps can be left on (they do not draw in air).  
  • If you go out on your own initiative, you might risk being exposed to more radiation than if you had stayed inside. If you need to get out, be sure to make it as short as possible. The authorities will advise on the situations in which you can go out.  
  • If you have been outside and think you have been exposed to radioactive contamination: change your clothes and take a shower. Wash yourself thoroughly with soap without scratching your skin. Use shampoo, but not conditioner which could bind the contamination in your hair.
  • Wash your clothes in the normal way to rinse off any radioactive substances. Wipe your shoes with a damp cloth and discard the cloth afterwards.  
  • Keep yourself informed via radio, TV and the internet because the situation could change quickly. 

Iodine tablets

Advice to take iodine tablets will often be given along with advice to stay indoors for up to 2 days. It is therefore important to have a stock of the tablets at home. Iodine tablets can be bought from a pharmacy without a prescription. 

Why take iodine tablets? 

Radioactive iodine can cause thyroid cancer. This risk is greatest in children, adolescents, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. The absorption of radioactive iodine into the thyroid gland can be blocked by a rapid supply of natural iodine (iodine tablets). 

Iodine tablets only protect against radioactive iodine, and not against other radioactive substances. 

What should I do? 

  • Buy iodine tablets from your pharmacy for storage at home. You should do this before an incident or accident so you have them readily available. 
  • You should only take iodine tablets on the advice of the authorities. They will tell you who should take iodine tablets, and when they should be taken.  
  • Keep yourself informed via radio, TV and the internet because the situation could change quickly. 

More information on iodine tablets

Decontamination of affected people

People who have been contaminated by radioactivity from a nuclear event can be decontaminated. In practice, this means that they should shower or wash and change their clothes as quickly as possible or be washed at a decontamination station if practicable. 

Why decontamination? 

People who have been contaminated should be washed to remove radioactive particles and prevent these from entering the body. This also prevents people whom might be contaminated from spreading the contamination to other places. 

What should I do? 

If you are advised that you should decontaminate yourself: go home, change your clothes and take a shower. Wash yourself thoroughly without scratching your skin. Use shampoo, but not conditioner which could hold the contamination in your hair. Wash your clothes in the normal way to rinse off any radioactive substances. Wipe your shoes with a damp cloth and discard the cloth afterwards.  

If decontamination stations have been set up, and they are made available to the public: 

  • Norwegian Civil Defence, the fire service or hospitals can set up decontamination stations. There, people will be given a shower and then checked for possible radioactive contamination.  
  • Follow the instructions given at the location. 

Nutritional advice

Nutritional advice applies to food and drink that is not controlled by the authorities. This applies, for example, to fruit and vegetables from your own garden and rainwater collected in tanks. 

The nutritional advice also applies to foods that readily absorb radioactive substances, such as reindeer meat, game, freshwater fish, mushrooms and berries. 

Food purchased in a shop is safe. 

Why nutritional advice? 

The intention is to protect you from food and drink that could be contaminated by radioactivity. 

What should I do? 

  • Food purchased from a store or shop is safe.  
  • Water from public water works is safe to drink.  
  • The authorities will tell you what you can do with water from a water butt, things you have grown in your kitchen garden, and anything you pick up in the forest or have caught or hunted yourself.  
  • Keep yourself informed via radio, TV and the internet because the situation could change quickly. 

Safety cordons

Areas that are, or could become, heavily contaminated may be cordoned off by the police. 

Why cordons? 

This is done to protect you from radioactive contamination, and to prevent the contamination from being deliberately or accidentally spread to a larger area or elsewhere. 

What should I do?

  • Respect the cordons. 

Acute evacuation of the local population

Evacuation may be ordered if the risk of radioactive contamination, or the risk of being exposed to radiation, is so great that it poses a direct threat to the health of the local population. 

Why acute evacuation of the local community? 

To protect you from high levels of radioactivity you may be asked to leave a certain area. This may also apply to your private home. 

To provide for a manageable evacuation and to prevent you from entering into areas with even higher levels of radioactivity than where you are now, it is important not to evacuate until explicit information and clear instructions have been given. 

What should I do? 

  • If the authorities order an evacuation, information will be provided to the community concerned. Follow the advice/instructions.  
  • Enable an effective evacuation by following the official advice.  
  • Keep yourself informed via radio, TV and the internet because the situation could change quickly. 

Other mitigating measures

Other measures may be appropriate to protect the population from radioactive contamination. The authorities will tell you if these become necessary. 
Examples of advice/measures that could be adopted: cover sandpits, hose down houses and streets, cut and remove grass, shrubs and trees. 

What should I do? 

  • Follow the decisions and advice given by the authorities.  
  • Keep yourself informed via radio, TV and the internet. 

Measures relating to food production

Specific measures may be imposed on food producers, such as farmers, fish breeders or reindeer herders. 

What should I do as a food producer?

  • Measures or restrictions may be imposed to prevent food products from being contaminated with radioactive substances above the limits and so having to be disposed of, and to prevent food that is contaminated from being placed on the market. 
  • Examples of advice/measures that may be adopted: keep livestock inside, postpone harvesting, start immediate harvesting or slaughter, give the animals clean feed or prohibit the sale of certain foods. 
  • Follow the decisions and advice given by the authorities.
     
Did you find what you were looking for?
The feedback is used for page optimization and will not be responded to.