Be prepared: 10 things nuclear plant neighbors should know about emergency planning

Do you have an emergency kit at home? Do you have a plan in place in case of a natural disaster? Just like you plan ahead, nuclear plants spend a lot of time preparing for a variety of situations.

In honor of National Preparedness Month, Duke Energy has compiled a list of important reminders and tips to help ensure our neighbors are prepared in the unlikely event of an emergency at one of our nuclear energy facilities.

  1. Plant preparation. Nuclear energy facilities are prepared for emergencies. They have multiple, diverse safety systems in place to protect the public. In the unlikely event of an emergency, states, counties and Duke Energy have closely-coordinated plans for handling a variety of situations, which they practice multiple times each year at every plant.

  2. Radiation basics. Radiation is a natural part of our environment. We receive radiation from the sun, minerals in the earth, the food we eat and building materials in our houses. Even our bodies give off small amounts of radiation.

    While exposure to extremely large amounts of radiation can be harmful, the amount of radiation given off in the normal operation of a nuclear station is very small – smaller, in fact, than the amount a person would receive on a coast-to-coast airplane trip.

  3. Local information. If you live within 10 miles of a nuclear plant, Duke Energy provides area-specific emergency planning information you can use. All nuclear plant neighbors should receive an emergency planning calendar each December, which includes updated information on what to do in the event of an emergency.

  4. Communication channels. If something were to happen at a nuclear plant, local emergency management agencies have several ways to alert you. For people indoors, state and county officials will provide information to the public via radio and television.

  5. Sirens. For those outside, sirens are used. Sirens do not mean evacuate. If you hear a loud, steady sound coming from one of the sirens around a nuclear plant, tune to a local radio or TV station for more information online.
  6. Pets. Be sure to include animals in your family emergency plan. Pets left at home should be placed indoors with food and water. If evacuating with your pet(s), it is important to check with your county emergency management office. Counties may arrange alternate holding facilities for pets that may be away from human shelter sites. North Carolina and South Carolina provide additional resources for pet owners.

  7. Children. Schools have emergency plans for students. In the unlikely event of a nuclear plant emergency,  school officials would be contacted by county emergency management officials. If an evacuation were ordered, all children attending school inside the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone would be moved to the pick-up point  or reception center for their school.

    You can find the zone for your children’s school, as well as pick-up information in your emergency planning calendar or online.

  8. Special assistance. If you have a special need or situation, let someone know before an emergency. County emergency management offices assist people without transportation or with special needs. You can find more information about this process in your emergency planning calendar.

  9. Public actions. State and local governments have guidelines for protecting people from radiation. These guidelines call for conservative protective actions if radiation levels could become a concern, so please follow their instructions. 

  10. Evacuation routes. If there were an emergency at your local nuclear plant, it is unlikely everyone around the plant would be affected, depending on the weather and nature of the emergency. Areas around nuclear plants are divided into zones to more accurately give directions to people during an emergency.

    Knowing which zone you’re in will help you know what to do. Zones and related maps can be found in your emergency planning calendar and online in the information specific to your closest nuclear plant. 

While this list is specific to nuclear emergencies, many of these items apply to other emergency situations as well.  For additional guidance on preparing for any emergency, visit the website.

Comments (2)

Posted April 27, 2017 by Duke Energy
We recently updated our website and some of the links have changed. This link should take you to our nuclear emergency planning information: You can also follow our social media channels (Twitter: @DE_AnneRone; Facebook: @DukeEnergyNuclear) or check your Duke Energy emergency planning calendar, which is mailed annually at the end of the year, for information. If you do not have a calendar, we will be glad to send you another.
Posted April 26, 2017 by J Dyar
I need to know what to do in a nuclear emergency as I only live about 5 miles from the Duke Power plant. The link is broken at:

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