Guidance for Radiation Accident Management


Basics of Radiation



Safety Around Radiation Sources

Types of Radiation Exposure

Managing Radiation Emergencies

How do you manage emergencies?

Guidance for Prehospital Emergency Services

Introduction || Guidelines || Hazard Identification || Control Zone || Emergency Medical Management || Responding to a Fire || Responding to a Spill || Responding to a Nuclear Weapons Accident


General Guidelines for Responding to a Spill or Leak*

Consult the U.S. DOT Emergency Response Guidebook.

  • Shut off ignition sources; no flares, smoking, or flames in hazard area.
  • Keep combustibles (wood, paper, oil, etc.) away from spilled material.
  • Do not touch spilled material. Do not touch damaged containers or move anything, except to rescue people.
  • Detour pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  • Detain anyone who has been in the area of the spill or area of suspected contamination (except for victims requiring emergency medical care).
  • Delay cleanup until the authorities arrive.
  • Minimize dispersal of material (by wind, rain, etc.) by covering with a tarp, plastic sheet, etc. Tie down or use weights as necessary.
  • If a right-of-way must be cleared before radiological emergency assistance arrives, move vehicles and debris the shortest distance required to open a pathway. Then, before permitting traffic to pass on the cleared path, spillage should be washed or wetted and swept to the edge with a minimum dispersal of wash water and spilled material.
  • If radiation protection experts are not able to get to the scene within a reasonable period of time because of weather or other constraints and prompt action is required, do the following:

    Small Spills: Cover with sand or other noncombustible absorbent material and place into containers for later disposal.

    Large Spills: Build a dike far ahead of the spill to contain spilled material for later disposal.

    Note: Some radioactive materials may be corrosive.

    *Adapted from U.S. DOT Emergency Response Guidebook.

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