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In light of the recent conflict between Russia, Ukraine, and the Western World, the term nuclear has been thrown around quite a bit. And while the conflict hopefully won’t likely escalate that much, it does provide a stark reminder that it’s best to stay prepared.

According to the American Red Cross, nuclear disaster falls under a few different categories:

Nuclear Explosions- An intense explosion that causes an immense pressure wave and widespread radioactive material.

Nuclear Fallout- Particles and debris that spread after an explosion.

Radiation- Radioactive energy that comes from a source and travels quickly.

While each of these incidents will vary on how to protect yourself and your family from the incident, there are many useful tips you can use to prepare yourself beforehand, during, and after.

Before an Incident

1. Be aware of your area.

Research and find out where local shelters and bunkers are in your area. These may vary based on your location, so stay informed about the best places depending on your school, work, and your home. Outdoor areas, cars, and mobile homes will not suffice.

2. Keep an emergency kit.

Emergency kits should include bottled water, packaged food, medicine, a battery-powered radio, a battery-powered flashlight, blankets, soap, towels, pet food, and other necessities.

The City of Chicago suggests having at least three days’ worth of water, three days’ worth of food, a can opener, a first aid kit, medications, and batteries in addition to what I listed above. It’s also good to have some plastic bags, soap, bleach, and good shoes and gloves on hand.

3. For those who live near a power plant.

If you live near a nuclear power plant, you should receive materials to help you prepare in case of an event. Read the instructions carefully.

During an Incident

1. Shield yourself.

Find a building or go to your safe place as soon as a warning is issued. A below-ground shelter is best. Do not go near windows and close off all openings and exits to the building to block radiation from entering. If you are outside, hide behind anything that could offer protection. Do not touch your face or skin. Do not look for the flash. Move indoors before the fallout and as soon as possible.

2. Tune in.

Turn on your emergency radio. Listen for signals or local plans to move you and others to a safe place.

3. Turn off fans.

Fans, air conditioners, and other modes of moving air (even fireplace opening) need to be closed off and turned off. These can allow nuclear energy to enter through.


Unless otherwise told by authorities, the Red Cross says to stay indoors at least 24 hours after an incident. If you need to evacuate, you will be told to.

After an Incident

1. Remove your clothing.

Because radiation and fallout can stick to your clothes, remove them. Place them in a bad and tie it, if possible. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

2. Wash off.

Take a shower to ensure you wash off any fallout that touched your skin or clothing. If a shower is not optional, wipe yourself clean with washcloths or wipes. Gently blow your nose, clean your ears and wipe off your eyelids.

3. Clean pets.

Gently clean your pet to try to remove any fallout from their coat. If you can, use soap and water.

4. Do not consume food or drinks that could be contaminated.

Prepackaged foods concealed by the indoors are okay. However, any food or drink that could be touched by fallout should be avoided.

5. For injuries.

Listen to your local emergency broadcast for instructions on how to seek medical attention. You may also contact 9-1-1 to let them know you have an emergency, and follow their instructions.

While no one ever envisions or hopes to have to put these plans into action, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. And just like any other type of incident, like a tornado, fire, or robbery, it’s good to be prepared for the worst, just in case.