Understanding the basics of radiation safety starts by recognizing that radioactivity is around us all of the time. Unfortunately, our human senses cannot detect radiation without assistance.Similar to carbon monoxide, we need something to alert us. Radiationsafety.com provides dosimeter and radiation detection badges that can be worn discreetly and can detection ionizing radiation.

dental x rays

Even Digital X-rays Emit Radiation.

Basics of Radiation Safety

All around us radioactive particles. Radioactive isotopes are found in natural minerals. Dosimeter badges help us monitor the scatter radiation emitted.  It is prudent to be prepared in case you,  your coworkers and/or your employees come in contact with ionizing radiation. Remember,  you cannot see radiation but it can have the potential to cause life-altering and painful damage. Detecting the radiation, monitoring the time you spend around it and having proper shielding can help protect you. 

In order to build a step-by-step guide, it is essential to first understand how radiation protection works. With reference to exposure to radiation from the sun and the measures you take to protect yourself from solar radiation, radiation protection consists of time, distance, and shielding. These three principles are effective individually but most effectively work in tandem. With that understanding of time, distance and shielding you can help you protect yourself and others from the negative affects of ionizing radiation. 

Time: Limit or minimize the length of time you are exposed to radiation. The dose of radiation is linearly correlated to the length of time you are exposed to radiation. The longer the exposure, the more damage. Just like a sunburn can occur within 30 minutes, radiation burns from x-rays, alpha rays or gamma rays can occur quickly and cause painful damage. 

Distance: Limit or minimize the proximity to the source of radiation. The closer the exposure, the more damage. The severity of damage due to radiation exposure exponentially decreases comparatively to the distance to the source. Even though earth is 93 million miles from the Sun, we still experience damage from solar radiation. 

Shielding: Devices can provide protection from radioactivity. Shielding works because of the principle of attenuation, the gradual decrease of energy’s intensity through a medium, by absorbing radiation between the source of radioactivity and the location to be protected.  

Just like applying sunscreen with a high SPF when you are in direct sunlight. The sunscreen should provide  protection from the sun. Lead, concrete, and water are mediums that are high in density which can be used to shield you from penetrating gamma rays and x-rays. Practically, doctors place lead blankets or thyroid collars on their patients during routine x-rays which helps limit the exposure. 

What to Do in a Nuclear Disaster?

 in the event of a large or catastrophic radiation crisis such as a nuclear powerplant accident, a terrorist attack, or a weapon of war. 

Take Shelter

If you are outside, locate the nearest building and go inside quickly to minimize the time and distance of exposure to the source of radioactivity.

If you are already inside, go to the center of your room and stay away from doors and windows. The walls, especially if they are concrete will provide shielding from radioactivity. Gather your family, coworkers, and employees with you. Be sure to bring inside any pets or animals.  

Stay Indoors

It may be the case that you need to shelter indoors for an extended period of time. Keep calm and stay indoors until you have been given permission that it is safe to go outside. 

While you are inside, keep doors and windows closed. If you were exposed to radiation, take a shower and wash the parts of your body that were not protected with soap and water. Drink and eat only items that are sealed.

Keep Alert

Your local emergency responders will provide updates on if and when it is safe to venture outside. They have been trained to respond in these types of situations. Use radio, TV, or your phones to watch for updates and receive instructions on where to get tested for contamination.  

These three steps – Take Shelter, Stay Indoors, and Keep Alert – utilizing the principles of time, distance and shielding, are effective on how to protect yourself from radiation in a large-scale radioactive event. To limit everyday exposure to radiation, wearable devices can be worn for detection like those from RadiationSafety.com.   

In an emergency situation or for more information on the basics of radiation safety contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide more helpful information. 

Sources

https://www.epa.gov/radiation/protecting-yourself-radiation

https://blog.universalmedicalinc.com/lead-shielding-one-key-principles-radiation-protection/

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