Levy County Emergency Management Emergecny Operations Center located in Bronson Florida is the direction and control facility for Levy County in times of disaster.
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Section: 4

All material is composed of atoms. Atoms are comprised of various parts -- the nucleus that contains minute particles called protons and neutrons, and an outer shell made up of other particles called electrons. The nucleus carries a positive electrical charge, the electrons a negative electrical charge. As electrons are bound to the nucleus of the atom, so are the particles within the nucleus. These forces within the nucleus work toward a strongly stable balance. The process by which the nuclei of atoms work toward becoming stable is to get rid of excess energy. Unstable nuclei may emit a quantity of energy, or they may emit a particle. This emitted atomic energy or particle is what we call radiation.

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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.
  • Additional Terms and Definitions
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.
  • Scientists estimate that the average person in the United States receives a dose of about one-third of a rem per year. About 80% of human exposure comes from natural sources and the remaining 20% comes from man-made radiation sources – mainly medical x-rays.
  • Internal exposure refers to radioactive material that is taken into the body through breathing, eating, or drinking. 
  • External exposure refers to an exposure to a radioactive source outside of our bodies. 
  • 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.
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 Terrorist Events Might Involve Radiation?

  • Possible terrorist events could involve introducing radioactive material into the food or water supply, using explosives (like dynamite) to scatter radioactive materials (called a “dirty bomb”), bombing or destroying a nuclear facility, or exploding a small nuclear device.
  • Although introducing radioactive material into the food or water supply most likely would cause great concern or fear, it probably would not cause much contamination or increase the danger of adverse health effects.
  • Although a dirty bomb could cause serious injuries from the explosion, it most likely would not have enough radioactive material in a form that would cause serious radiation sickness among large numbers of people. However, people who were exposed to radiation scattered by the bomb could have a greater risk of developing cancer later in life, depending on their dose.
  • A meltdown or explosion at a nuclear facility could cause a large amount of radioactive material to be released. People at the facility would probably be contaminated with radioactive material and possibly be injured if there was an explosion. Those people who received a large dose might develop acute radiation syndrome. People in the surrounding area could be exposed or contaminated.
  • Clearly, an exploded nuclear device could result in a lot of property damage. People would be killed or injured from the blast and might be contaminated by radioactive material. Many people could have symptoms of acute radiation syndrome. After a nuclear explosion, radioactive fallout would extend over a large region far from the point of impact, potentially increasing people's risk of developing cancer over time.

What Preparations Can I Make for a Radiation Emergency?

  • Your community should have a plan in place in case of a radiation emergency. Check with community leaders to learn more about the plan and possible evacuation routes.
  • Check with your child's school, the nursing home of a family member, and your employer to see what their plans are for dealing with 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:
    • A flashlight with extra batteries
    • A portable radio with extra batteries
    • Bottled water
    • Canned and packaged food
    • A hand-operated can opener
    • A first-aid kit and essential prescription medications
    • Personal items such as paper towels, garbage bags, and toilet paper

Help Protect Your Family

  1. Stay calm. Don't panic. An attack involving radioactive material sounds very frightening, but it may not pose much direct risk to county residents. Turn on the radio or TV right away, to hear official information about the actual risk and how you can protect yourself. The attacker hopes to create terror. Experts believe it's unlikely there will be enough radioactive material spread over a wide area to cause radiation sickness or death. Minimize danger to yourself and others by remaining calm and listening to official emergency information.
  2. Shield yourself from radiation. Glass, concrete, metal, and other building materials will help to shield you from radiation. If you are outdoors, move inside.
  3. Wash and change your clothes. If you think you may have been directly exposed to radioactive materials, take a shower as soon as possible. Removing your outer clothing and washing your hair and exposed skin removes 95% of the contamination. Package any contaminated clothes or other articles in a plastic trash bag and seal it. Put the bag in a room people will not be using.
  4. Try to reduce the amount of radioactive materials you breathe in. Do not eat or drink anything that may have been exposed to radioactive material. If you are outdoors, breathe through a folded cloth to help filter out radioactive particles. If you are indoors, close the windows and put the ventilation system on recycled air.
  5. Put more distance between you and the source of radiation. If you are in the immediate area of a radiological attack - hundreds of feet - move away from the explosion and the source of radiation. A radiation dose drops off quickly with distance. If you double your distance from a source, the dose will drop by 75%. Evacuate in an orderly manner when instructed to do so.
  6. Emergency responders may ask you to shelter in place (stay where you are)rather then move, for safety reasons. Staying inside helps shield you from radiation.
IN ..... the unlikely event of a serious accident at the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant, there might be a release which could send radioactive particles and gases into the atmosphere. Heavier radioactive particles would probably fall quickly, near to the point of release. Lighter particles carried further by the wind, would fall more slowly and could affect areas up to 50 miles from the point of release. Levy County lies in this 50 mile radius, which is also known as the Ingestion Exposure Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ). The main concern for county residents in this 50 mile EPZ would be contamination of vegetables, milk and drinking water which has been obtained from open sources (lakes, rivers, ocean, etc.) Specific instructions concerning protective actions to be taken during such an emergency will be broadcast over the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
Radiological Preparedness Adobe PDF
Defending Against Catastrophics Threats Adobe PDF
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