How to behave in case terrorists have used radiological weapon?

People, animals, plants, buildings, food products and crops may become objects of terrorist attack. They can be destroyed or contaminated by the use of weapons of mass destruction components that have significant destructive effects. At present, there are 4 types of weapons of mass destruction: biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological.

Radiological weapons include destructive measures or devices, which aim emitting radioactive substances.

The purpose of using radiological weapon is to transfer and emit radioactive substances which may result in negative effects such as destruction, wounds, injuries and psychological impact.

Radioactive substances may spread:

  • after explosion;
  • through water;
  • after direct spray or dispersion;
  • as particulates (dusts) or aerosol.

Radioactive substances constantly emit ionising radiation such as alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays, which ionize ambient air and cause negative changes to tissues of plants and living organisms.

It is important to note that there is both internal and external irradiance. Radioactive substances may get into human body through nose, mouth or open wounds and irradiate from inside the body.

Therefore, it is advisable to wear radiation suits or coats, masks, respirators or simply cotton-wool and gauze bandages in order to protect from a great amount of dusts and aerosols with radioactive materials getting into your body (keep in mind that sealing up of buildings is also recommended).

Masks, radiation suits or coats do not prevent from gamma rays. Avoid environment contaminated with radioactive materials or other single sources of ionising radiation.
Remember that you will not feel direct effect of ionising radiation. If you suspect the use of radiological weapon immediately call emergency number 112. Only experts are able to identify used radioactive materials, prognosticate possible effects of radioactive contamination on people and environment.

If it is suspected that terrorists have used radiological weapon:

  • Cover your nose;
  • Do not touch things in the place of incident;
  • Keep distance from any source of smoke or vapour;
  • Give first aid to the injured;
  • Leave dangerous zone as soon as possible;
  • Inform people to keep distance from the place of incident until emergency services arrive;
  • It is recommended to stand upwind direction from the place of incident. Safe distance from contaminated zone is at least 30-50 metres;
  • Do not drink, do not eat and do not smoke in the place of incident or close to it;
  • Wait until emergency service arrive and inform them about the situation in the place of incident;
  • Consider personal hygiene norms;
  • Follow messages transmitted through radio and television, behave according to the recommendations;

If you experience symptoms such as nausea, vomit, diarrhoea, raising temperature and general weakness, immediately call emergency number 112 or go to the hospital.

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