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Advice for the public: what to do in an emergency

The authorities’ emergency management plans are designed to ensure that all measures for your protection can be implemented quickly and effectively. In addition, there are various actions you can take to protect yourself and your family. Read on for some general advice on what to do after an accidental release of radiation:

General advice

1. Stay indoors!

The radiation released following an accident at a nuclear power plant travels through the air and is deposited on the ground. Stay indoors – this will help to protect you and your children from breathing in radioactive material, and largely protects you from the radiation generated by radioactive substances on the ground. Only go outside if absolutely necessary and stay outdoors for as short a time as possible.

2. Seek shelter in windowless basement rooms if possible

The level of protection against radiation depends on where you are inside the house. You are best protected in windowless rooms or basements where walls and surrounding soil provide an effective shield.


3. Keep windows and doors shut and switch off air conditioning or ventilation systems!

This reduces the flow of air and helps to stop radioactive material from entering your home.

4. Don’t wear contaminated clothes – wash yourself thoroughly!

If you can’t avoid going outside, make sure you take off your shoes and the outer layers of your clothes before or immediately after coming back inside. Place these items in plastic bags and seal them tightly. This avoids bringing radioactive material into the house. After you have been outside, wash your hands and head thoroughly under running water. You should also wash other body parts that were not covered by your clothes. After that, take a shower.

5. Don’t pick or eat fruit or vegetables from the garden!

Fruit and vegetables from your garden may be contaminated, so you should eat tinned or frozen food instead. After a nuclear accident, you must not drink milk from animals that are kept outside. Instead, choose products from commercial dairies: they are checked regularly to ensure they are safe to eat. Worried about your water supply? There’s no need for concern. Tap water is checked to make sure it meets stringent quality standards. If any radiation is detected, the water is not fed into the mains supply. So you can continue to use tap water as normal.

6. Stay informed – listen to the radio!

Keep your radio switched on and follow the authorities’ advice. This way, you will also find out how long the authorities’ recommendations will remain in force.

7. Don’t put extra strain on the emergency services by making unnecessary calls!

Unnecessary calls to the emergency services can block the phone lines. Instead, listen out for radio or loud speaker announcements and keep an eye on teletext – this will tell you all you need to know about staying safe. Make sure you check your emergency planning authority’s website and call the public helpline if you have any questions or problems.

8. Being evacuated? Please follow the rescue teams’ instructions! 

The emergency planning authorities will decide whether you need to be evacuated based on the available information for the affected zones. If you are asked to leave the building, please follow the instructions issued by the authorities and rescue teams.