Unless you live on another planet, you’ve probably heard about the terrible earthquake and tsunami that has ravaged northeastern Japan recently. The disaster has damaged several nuclear reactors, causing hydrogen explosions due to overheating and releasing radiation into the atmosphere.
What is Radioactive Fallout?
So what exactly is radioactive fallout? Fallout is the particulate matter (dust) that is thrown into the air by a nuclear explosion. This dust travels on the prevailing winds, and can travel hundreds( if not thousands) of miles downwind, coating every surface with radioactive material. The higher the fallout goes, the farther it will travel downwind.
This material contains substances that are hazardous if inhaled or ingested, like radioiodine and strontium. Even worse, fallout is absorbed by the animals and plants that make up our food supply. In large enough amounts, radioactive fallout is hazardous to our health.
Am I in Danger from Radioactive Fallout from Fukushima?
The good news is that radiation from a nuclear power plant meltdown usually doesn’t make it as high up in the sky as, let’s say, a mushroom cloud from an atomic bomb. The worst effects will be felt by those in the area of the reactors. Lighter particles, like radioactive iodine, will travel the farthest, and is the main concern for those of us far overseas from the island of Japan.
The level of radiation in an area depends on the distance that it has to travel from the meltdown, and the time it took for the radiation to arrive. As such, we are hoping that there will be little health effect on the U.S. and other areas in North America and Europe. However, it makes sense to add protection to your medical supplies, in case of a series of catastrophic meltdowns in the various reactors in Japan that have been damaged.
Potassium Iodide is a 130 mg tablet that prevents radioactive Iodine from damaging the specific organ that it targets, the thyroid gland. Taking KI 1/2 hour to 24 hours prior to a radiation exposure will prevent the eventual epidemic of thyroid cancer that will result if no treatment is given. In the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, excessive radiation caused more than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mostly in children and adolescents, with more expected in the coming years
If radiation exposure is expected, take the tablet, also known by its chemical symbol KI, once a day for 7-10 days, or longer if prolonged or multiple exposures are expected. Children should take 1/2 doses. It is also recommended to consider 1/2 tablet for large dogs, and 1/4 tablet for small dogs and cats
Given the incredible demand currently, many people will be unable to buy KI through the usual distributors. The federal government also will have little KI in reserve to give to the general population. As such, consider this alternative: 2% tincture of Iodine solution (brand name Betadine). “Painting” 8 ml of Betadine on the abdomen or forearm 2-12 hours prior to a radiation exposure will be absorbed through the skin and should give protection against radioactive Iodine in fallout. For children 3 and older (but under 150 lbs), 4 ml. Toddlers should have 2ml painted on, and infants 1 ml. This strategy should also work on animals. If you don’t have a way to measure in ml, remember that a standard teaspoon is about 5 ml.
Every prepper should have Betadine or other Iodine solution in their preps, as it serves as an excellent antiseptic for skin, in the event of an injury. Those who are allergic to seafood will probably be allergic to Iodine. Adverse reactions may occur with medications such as diuretics and Lithium, so consult your doctor. It is important to note that you cannot drink Betadine, as it is poisonous if ingested.