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How to Self-Decontaminate after a Radiation Emergency

With the potential of a nuclear event occurring, it’s important to know how to best prepare just in case the worse happens. Decontamination after a radioactive event will be essential to survival if the geopolitical conflicts intensify to the “point of no return.”

With the potential of a nuclear event occurring, it’s important to know how to best prepare just in case the worse happens. Decontamination after a radioactive event will be essential to survival if the geopolitical conflicts intensify to the “point of no return.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is important to get radioactive material off your body as soon as possible to lower your risk of harm. Removing radioactive material from a person, object, or place is called decontamination. Decontaminating yourself will lower your exposure to harmful radioactive material. Before beginning, it’s important to know if the water you are going to use for decontamination has been contaminated as well. If it has been, you can still use it to decontaminate, however, you should avoid drinking it! This is where bottled and safely stored water comes in!  If you have a deep enough well, your water should be fine to drink. It’s far enough below the ground.

How To Decontaminate

If you need to decontaminate, use whatever water you have available, keeping in mind where you’re washing off. The first step is to slowly remove the outer layer of clothing. Do not shake or toss the clothing, as radioactive particles could fall off contaminating everything nearby. This should remove about 90% of radioactive material. Seal the clothing in a bag away from people and pets.

Next, take a warm shower if you can, and scrub off using a lot of soap. Do not scrape the skin, instead, rub. If you are too harsh, you can push the radioactive materials into the skin. Wash your hair with soap or shampoo, but do not condition it. The conditioner will help radioactive particles cling to your hair.

If you cannot show, wash off all exposed skin with soap and warm water. Gently blow your nose, wipe your eyelids, eyelashes, and ears with a moist wipe, clean wet cloth, or a damp paper towel. Put the used wipes, cloth, or towel in a plastic bag or other sealable container and place the bag with your outer layer of clothing in an out-of-the-way place, away from other people and pets.

You then will want to put on clean clothes from a drawer or closet that was far away from radioactive material. If you do not have clean clothes, take off your outer layer of clothing, shake or brush off your clothes.  Take care to cover your nose and mouth, and put your clothes back on.

Clean your pets in a similar manner if they were outside during a radiation emergency. Wash their fur with soap, avoiding conditioner. Wash their collars thoroughly. Keep your mouth and nose covered during pet washing if you can and thoroughly wash your face and hands when done. Remember to wipe off all pet food containers to remove radioactive particles. Food exposed should not be eaten.


According to The Prepper’s Blueprint, “One of the easiest ways to minimize the effects of radiation is knowing where our food comes from and limiting our exposure to radioactive foods and water sources. Thoroughly wash your produce. Despite arguments to the contrary, you can wash radioactive particles off of produce. Adopting an anti-radiation diet can provide natural alternatives to assist the body in ridding itself of radioactive toxins. Foods such as kelp, rosemary, spirulina, miso soup, and niacin all assist the body in fighting radiation damage.  Other foods that may help in combating radiation sickness are foods that naturally detoxify the body. Foods that are high in potassium such as apples, oranges, pineapples, and pomegranates are foods that are also good cancer fighters. Foods that are high in antioxidants will also assist your body in ridding itself of radioactive particles. Foods such as green and black teas (make sure that your tea is not from Japan), garlic, cumin, nettles, dandelions, ginseng, lentils, collards, and mustard greens are also suggested.

As well. any food or water stored in sealed containers that have any fallout dust is safe to consume as long as the fallout dust is brushed or rinsed off the outside of the container. Take caution not to allow the fallout dust to get inside the container. If you are concerned about your water sources, use filtered water in everything, including brushing your teeth and sponge bathing. Purchase a reverse osmosis water filter with extra filtration cartridges. Remember, it is important to replace your filters after multiple uses. You can read more here.

As well, as watching your diet, also take notice of some of these natural ways to reduce the side effects, according to the CDC:

Treatment for Radiation Side Effects

  1. Get plenty of rest and practice good sleep hygiene.
  2. Follow a balanced diet rich in nutrients.
  3. Take care of the skin in the treatment area.
  4. Avoid wearing tight clothes, especially over the treatment area.
  5. Protect the treated area from the sun, heat, and cold.

KI (potassium iodide) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine that can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, thus protecting this gland from radiation injury.

Six of The Safest and Most Nutritious Sources of Iodine

One of the preparedness staples recommended for those concerned about radiation poisoning is potassium iodide tablets.   For emergency purposes, potassium iodide tablets are given out or taken to prevent radioiodine uptake.  This is a deadly form of radiation poisoning caused primarily by the uptake by the human body of iodine-131, produced with a fission reaction found in a nuclear explosion or a leakage.

The Facts About Potassium Iodide Tablets That Everyone Should Know

The sooner a person takes KI, the more time the thyroid will have to “fill up” with stable iodine. Demand for shelf-stable potassium iodine has increased as people fear a nuclear encounter with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. However, if you are having trouble getting KI, you could try nascent iodine. It is also worth noting that nascent iodine is the most effective form of iodine for human supplementation because of its high bioavailability, making it easier for the body to break down and utilize. This can be taken as a supplement before a radioactive event too.

While it also has been used as an emergency medical tool in radiography, iodine remains an integral part of human health. Knowing how to use nascent iodine in an emergency may save your life. In fact, most radioactive experts recommend keeping it on hand at all times.



This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on May 5th, 2022