What to Do: Stay Inside

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A nuclear power plant accident, a nuclear explosion or a dirty bomb are examples of radiation emergencies. If something like this happens, you may be asked to get inside a building and take shelter for a period of time instead of leaving.

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Getting inside of a building and staying there is called “sheltering in place.” Once you get in a building, there are things you can do to stay safe inside. Staying inside for at least 24 hours can protect you and your family until it is safe to leave the area. Always listen for additional instructions from emergency officials and radiation experts.


  • You could be contaminated with radioactive material if you are outside in an area when a radiation emergency happens. Radioactive material can fall from the air like dust or sand and land on objects below, like people, buildings, cars, and roads. Radioactive contamination can spread in the same way that dust or mud can be tracked into the home or spread to another person or object.

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Decontaminating Pets

  • If your pet was outside, bring your pet inside.
    • Wash your pet carefully with shampoo or soap and water and rinse completely.
    • Wear waterproof gloves and a dust mask (or other material to cover your mouth) if you can.
    • Keep cuts and scapes (both yours and your pets) covered when washing your pet to keep radioactive material out of the wound.
    • Wash your hands and face after washing your pet.

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Decontaminating Your Home or Shelter

Emergency responders or local officials will let you know if you need to decontaminate your home, and they will give instructions for cleaning inside and outside your home or shelter.

For more information on keeping radioactive material out of your home or shelter, click Get Inside.

Staying Inside Until it is Safe

Preventing and Treating Radiation Injuries and Illness

Maintaining your overall health is vital while staying inside your shelter. Find out what measures you need to take to stay healthy and recognize any potential health risks or problems.

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