Protect Yourself and Your Family in a Radiation Emergency

Get inside. Stay Inside. Stay Tuned.

In the event of a radiation emergency, whether intentional or not, journalists play an important role in making certain the public receives timely and accurate information that will be helpful in saving lives.

CDC has tools and resources to help journalists understand how radiation affects lives every day and especially during a radiation emergency. Following are some key concepts, messages, and resources that may be helpful to journalists and other media professionals.

Get inside. Stay inside. Stay tuned.

Contact Information

NCEH/ATSDR Office of Communication
(770) 488-0700

Protection in a Radiation Emergency

Protect yourself, your family, and your pets in a radiation emergency.

Because radioactive materials become weaker over time, staying inside for at least 24 hours can protect you and your family until it is safe to leave the area. If you have loved ones in schools, day cares, hospitals, nursing homes, or other facilities during a radiation emergency, stay where you are! Going outside to get loved ones could expose you and them to dangerous levels of radiation. Learn more about what to do in a radiation emergency.


Decontaminating yourself if you were outside during a radiation emergency will lower your exposure to harmful radioactive material. Even just removing your outer layer of clothing can remove up to 90% of radioactive material.

  • Take off your outer layer of clothing
  • Wash yourself off
  • Put on clean clothes

Learn more about how to self-decontaminate after a radiation emergency.

Health Effects of Radiation
A woman talking with a doctor.

Radiation can affect the body in a number of ways.

  • The health effects depend on the amount of radiation absorbed by the body (the dose), the type of radiation, and how and for how long the person was exposed.
  •  In large doses, radiation can cause serious illness or skin burns.
  •  If you are injured or think you are injured, seek medical attention right away.  Learn more about possible health effects of radiation exposure and contamination.
Medical Treatments

There are several treatments available for radiation emergencies, but each type of treatment works only for certain situations.

  • In some situations, no treatment is available or appropriate.
  • The treatments that are available for internal contamination include potassium iodide (KI), Prussian blue, and Diethylenetriamine pentaacetate (DTPA).
  • Medical and other officials will monitor the situation to determine which kinds of treatments are needed and will provide information about how to get them.
    Learn more about medical treatments for radiation exposure and contamination, and why it’s important to check with medical professionals to determine the best options.
Where to Go in a Radiation Emergency
Infographic: Where to Go in a Radiation Emergency

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Steps to decontamination for yourself and others.
Infographic: Decontamination for Yourself and Others

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Radiation Emergencies and Pregnancy
Infographic: Radiation Emergencies and Pregnancy

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Radiation Contamination versus Exposure
Infographic: Radiation Contamination versus Exposure

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How Potassium Iodide (KI) works
Infographic: How Potassium Iodide (KI) Works

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Dirty Bomb or Radiological Dispersal Device
Infographic: Dirty Bomb or Radiological Dispersal Device

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Related Links

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In a #radiation emergency, #radiation could affect the body in a number of ways. Learn how: icon

In a #radiation emergency, you can take steps to remove #radioactive material from your body. icon

Food and water safety is important after a #radiation emergency. Learn more: icon

Page last reviewed: September 10, 2020