What to take away from this weekend’s false emergency nuclear alert
An emergency alert was sent across Ontario on Jan. 12 alerting residents about a supposed incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station located east of Toronto.
The warning was dismissed by a second alert notifying residents that the original message was sent out by mistake.
No further information has been made available regarding what took place at the nuclear station in Pickering, but Ontario’s solicitor general has launched a full investigation looking into the matter.
Based on the proximity and seriousness of such a potential catastrophe, here’s the Ryersonian’s guide to surviving a highly unlikely nuclear disaster:
- Shelter! Get indoors, close all windows and vents, and shut off any fans or air conditioning systems. Make sure to bring only essentials with you. Going outdoors is not an option until further notified. Your safest bet in a nuclear emergency would be to find refuge in the basement of a structure.
- Do not drink tap water or eat produce not already in your home. Resort to drinking bottled water and eating canned food if a nuclear emergency is declared.
- Make sure you have potassium iodine (KI) pills handy. Taken at the right time, these pills can reduce the absorption of radioactive iodine into the thyroid gland. The melting core of a nuclear reactor releases massive amounts of radioactive iodine into the air. Ontario residents living within 10 km of a power station will have received KI pills in the mail. Otherwise, residents who are within 50 km of the disaster zone will be eligible for free KI pills that can be ordered online. The public will be instructed by the province on when the time is right to take the pills.
- Pay close attention to radio and TV. Make sure you are tuned in for updates on the situation.
- If you or anyone you know is entering the building: once you’re in, carefully remove your outer layer of clothing, as radioactive material can settle on your body. And on that note, make sure you thoroughly wash any areas of skin exposed to outside radiation.
PRO TIP: Rationing canned foods and bottled water is in your best interest.
Emergency procedures in the event of a nuclear disaster are published online by the government of Ontario. You can find information on how to prepare for nuclear disasters by selecting the area you live in.
On Monday, the Toronto Star published an article headlining that Ontario Premier Doug Ford has extended the life of the Pickering nuclear station beyond its planned 2024 closure. The plant is expected to operate until at least 2025.