I have to say, as someone that spent 4 years working as a emergency management planner assigned to our Nuclear Power Plant Safety program, and dedicated to training first responders in how to remain safe during a power plant response, I have little tolerance for the fear-mongering and nonsense that some people in the preparedness community spout about nuclear power.
Radiation is a well understood scientific principle, and it is pretty easy to find, shield, and stay away from acute levels of radioactivity.
As a hazardous materials technician – and someone that has plaid a part in more than one actual radiological emergency I would tell you that I would much rather deal with a radiological event than a extreme hazardous material event.
Anyway, for those that live near a nuclear power plant here are some tips:
Stay ready at all times: have a disaster plan and drill it often. Have second-nature knowledge of official evacuation routes – or, better yet, a map showing them (available from TVA). Have a specific place to meet if you and yours become separated. Have an emergency kit – stocked, on hand and ready to take at a moment’s notice.
- A siren is not an evacuation signal – it might only be a test, and the correct response to a real event varies with the specific type of event. Your reaction to a siren should be to tune to local radio, TV or NOAA radio for instructions.
- Stay off telephones unless absolutely necessary. Much of the communication by emergency response workers is via telephone, and lives could be lost if they can’t complete calls.
- NEVER call 911 to get information!
- If told to shelter-in-place: close doors and windows; turn off anything that allows or draws air into the house like furnaces, air conditioners and fireplace vents; if you must go outside, protect your lungs with a damp cloth or towel over your mouth.
- If told to leave: stay calm, don’t rush; take your emergency kit with you; turn off lights, appliances and water; follow the evacuation route, using your own transportation if possible; hang a white towel or cloth on your front door so emergency workers will know the building has been evacuated.
- As soon as an all-clear is given, check on your neighbors.
- If you have children, know the specifics of what to do about them when they are in school.
- If you farm or garden; listen to the emergency information from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
- If you live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant and would need special help in an event, contact TVA now.