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Safety Guidelines for Journalists: Radiation Incidents
By Carolyn Mac Kenzie, CHP

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3 Steps to Survive a Radiation Incident Infographic US letter size
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Introduction

In the event of a radiation incident such as the use of a so-called dirty bomb or nuclear reactor incident, accurate and swift reporting is vital to public safety. This guide is intended to both help protect you, the journalist, to be safe if you are covering such a story and to provide basic safety information that can be conveyed to the public to limit the risk of radiation exposure. 

One of the objectives of using a radiological dispersion device—a dirty bomb—in a terrorist attack is to cause mass panic and hysteria. News of a nuclear reactor incident would generate panic and fear as well. The best defense against both possibilities is to empower members of the public with accurate and timely information on the risks involved and safety measures they can take to assure their safety. Journalists have an indispensable role to play in communicating this factual information.

Please note: The safety procedures and basic information included in this guide can most effectively be applied in radiation scenarios such as the use of dirty bombs or nuclear reactor accidents. Incidents involving a nuclear explosion, like a nuclear bomb or improvised nuclear device, would present another set of risks resulting from the massive blast itself. While the information in this guide would be helpful in such an emergency, sheltering inside for at least a day would be required, and other factors would need to be considered to ensure your personal safety and the safety of others.

In collaboration with Atomic Reporters and the Stanley Foundation.

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