SouthernWestVirginia Preparedeness partnership


In our region of the state, radiation emergencies may not appear to be a major concern. However, as the recent tragedy in Japan has displayed, the effects of a nuclear accident can be far-reaching. To assist in preparing for such an emergency, the following questions and answers are provided:

What Is Radiation?

·         Radiation is a form of energy that is present all around us.

·         Different types of radiation exist, some of which have more energy than others.

·         Amounts of radiation released into the environment are measured in units called curies. However, the dose of radiation that a person receives is measured in units called rem.

How Can Exposure Occur?

·         People are exposed to small amounts of radiation every day, both from naturally occurring sources (such as elements in the soil or cosmic rays from the sun), and man-made sources. Man-made sources include some electronic equipment (such as microwave ovens and television sets), medical sources (such as x-rays, certain diagnostic tests, and treatments), and from nuclear weapons testing.

·         The amount of radiation from natural or man-made sources to which people are exposed is usually small; a radiation emergency (such as a nuclear power plant accident or a terrorist event) could expose people to small or large doses of radiation, depending on the situation.

·         Contamination refers to particles of radioactive material that are deposited anywhere that they are not supposed to be, such as on an object or on a person’s skin.

·         Exposure occurs when radiation energy penetrates the body. For example, when a person has an x-ray, he or she is exposed to radiation.

What Happens When People Are Exposed to Radiation?

·         Radiation can affect the body in a number of ways, and the adverse health effects of exposure may not be apparent for many years.

·         These adverse health effects can range from mild effects, such as skin reddening, to serious effects such as cancer and death, depending on the amount of radiation absorbed by the body (the dose), the type of radiation, the route of exposure, and the length of time a person was exposed.

·         Exposure to very large doses of radiation may cause death within a few days or months.

·         Exposure to lower doses of radiation may lead to an increased risk of developing cancer or other adverse health effects later in life.

What Types of Events Might Involve Radiation?

Radiation emergencies may be either intentional (e.g., caused by terrorists) or unintentional or unplanned. The first category would include:

·         Contaminating food/water with radioactive material

·         Spreading radioactive material into the environment

o    Using conventional explosives (e.g., dynamite) – called a dirty bomb

o    Using wind currents or natural traffic patterns

·         Bombing or destroying a nuclear reactor

·         Causing a truck/train carrying nuclear material to spill its load

·         Exploding a nuclear weapon

Unplanned radiation emergencies would include:

·         Nuclear Blast

·         Nuclear Reactor Accidents

·         Transportation Accidents (unintentional spill of radioactive material from a truck or train)

What Preparations Can I Make for a Radiation Emergency?

·         Develop your own family emergency plan so that every family member knows what to do.

·         At home, put together an emergency kit that would be appropriate for any emergency. The kit should include the following items:

o    A flashlight with extra batteries

o    A portable radio with extra batteries

o    Bottled water

o    Canned and packaged food

o    A hand-operated can opener

o    A first-aid kit and essential prescription medications

o    Personal items such as paper towels, garbage bags, and toilet paper

How Can I Protect Myself During a Radiation Emergency?

·         After a release of radioactive materials, local authorities will monitor the levels of radiation and determine what protective actions to take.

·         The most appropriate action will depend on the situation. Tune to the local emergency response network or news station for information and instructions during any emergency.

·         If a radiation emergency involves the release of large amounts of radioactive materials, you may be advised to “shelter in place,” which means to stay in your home or office; or you may be advised to move to another location.

·         If you are advised to shelter in place, you should do the following:

o    Close and lock all doors and windows.

o    Turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside. Only use units to recirculate air that is already in the building.

o    Close fireplace dampers.

o    If possible, bring pets inside.

o    Move to an inner room or basement.

o    Keep your radio tuned to the emergency response network or local news to find out what else you need to do.

·         If you are advised to evacuate, follow the directions that your local officials provide. Leave the area as quickly and orderly as possible. In addition –

o    Take a flashlight, portable radio, batteries, first-aid kit, supply of sealed food and water, hand-operated can opener, essential medicines, and cash and credit cards.

o    Take pets only if you are using your own vehicle and going to a place you know will accept animals. Emergency vehicles and shelters usually will not accept animals.

Additional information concerning radiation emergencies can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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American Red Cross-Beckley Jerry Runion
200 Industrial Drive P.O. Box 1598, Beckley ,
WV 25802,
304-255-1508 .
Description: Emergency Services....Disaster's-Flood-Home Fires-Snow Storms-Chemical Spills etc. Provide Food-Clothing -Shelter
Beaver Fire Department
147 3rd Street, Beaver,
WV 25813,
Description: In case of emergency dial 911
Beckley ARH Hospital
306 Stanaford Rd., Beckley,
WV 25801,
Beckley ARH Hospital
306 Stanaford Rd., Beckley,
WV 25801,
Beckley Fire Department
310 Third Avenue, Beckley,
WV 25801,
Description: All hazards emergency response agency.
Beckley Police Department
340 Prince Street, Beckley,
WV 25801,
(304) 256-1708.
Description:                      ...
Beckley Police Department
340 Prince St, Beckley,
WV 25801,
(304) 256-1708.
Description: The City of Beckley with its natural beauty, friendly people and its committed Police Department, makes Beckley a great place...
Greenbrier Valley Medical Center
202 Maplewood Avenue, Ronceverte,
WV 24970,
Mullens Police Department
316 Moran Ave, Mullens,
WV 25882,
Description: This is a description.
Princeton Community Hospital Association
122 Twelfth St, Princeton,
WV 24740,
Trap Hill Volunteer Fire Department
765 Bolt Road, Glen Daniel,
WV 25844,
(304) 934-7772.
Veteran's Hospital
200 Veterans Ave, Beckley,
WV 25801,
(304) 255-2121.
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