What to Do: Stay Tuned

At a glance

During a radiation emergency, it is important to stay tuned through radio, TV, or other technology to hear updates from emergency officials. Staying tuned will help you receive updates about evacuation, shelters, and when it is safe to go outside.

Stay Tuned

Ways to stay tuned


Having a battery-powered or hand crank emergency radio is a great start. A National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio will be one of the best ways to stay tuned.

It is important to have an emergency radio for any emergency situation. If your emergency radio uses batteries, be sure to have extra batteries on hand in your emergency preparedness kit. Get more information on emergency preparedness kits.

Other ways

Officials may also use email or verified social media accounts for updates.

Depending on the size and scope of the radiation emergency, it may be difficult to complete a phone call. Try to use text messages (SMS) if possible.

Keep electronics charged or batteries ready

Make sure your electronic devices are working. If your electronic devices with batteries are not working, you can try taking the batteries out of the device, putting them back in, and restarting the device as normal.

Other devices may require resetting switches and circuit breakers to work again. Do not go outside to reset breakers.

In a nuclear explosion an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is possible. An EMP is a side effect of a nuclear detonation that produces a surge of energy. This surge can damage electronic devices.

How to evacuate

Radiation levels will decrease with time as you shelter in place. Emergency response officials will give instructions on how to evacuate your area when it is safe. Other important information will include:

Keep Reading: Evacuation

Community reception centers

Emergency response officials may instruct you to go to a community reception center (CRC). CRCs are places where you can

  • Be screened for contamination.
  • Get help decontaminating.
  • Receive first aid.
  • Register your information for possible follow-up (if needed).

Emergency shelters

After evacuating an area, emergency officials may tell you to go to an emergency shelter. They will also provide the safest way to get there.

Helping others

Follow the instructions of emergency response officials to help everyone stay safe. Do not go to the affected area or stop sheltering in place to help others. There will be ways you can help people inside and outside the affected area.

Mental health

Any emergency, including those involving radiation, can cause emotional and psychological distress. Radiation is a difficult topic, and it is new to many people, which can make the psychological effects of a radiation disaster stronger.

Monitoring and treating mental and physical symptoms during a radiation emergency is important for short- and long-term mental health.

One of the most important aspects of major radiation emergencies is the potential for long-term effects on people and the environment. The long-term recovery process after a radiation emergency can lead to increased emotional and psychological distress.

More information

Resources for professionals

Psychological First Aid Training