What Should You Do In a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

  • If you hear a steady siren tone for 3 minutes or more, turn on your radio or television and tune in to a local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for information.
  • Stay calm, and remember that a nuclear power plant emergency would most likely takes hours to develop into a situation that could affect public health and safety.
  • State and local officials are required to notify the public within 15 minutes of an event that may require the public taking protective actions. Campus constituencies will be kept informed by the administration, of local and state directives as long as the emergency is in effect.

The sirens are NOT signals to evacuate; they are intended to alert you to tune in to an EAS station for more information or instructions. Follow all instructions given by the EAS messages. You may be instructed to:

  • Just remain alert and ready to respond, if necessary (the College may not be directly affected by the emergency).
  • Stay indoors and take shelter. Close windows, secure ventilation systems and cover food items (Shelter in Place).
  • Evacuate to a host community reception center that is at least 10 miles from the nuclear plant. (Connecticut College’s host community center is at Windham High School, in Windham, CT. (Refer to the Campus Evacuation procedures).
  • Avoid using the telephone unless it is absolutely necessary. Telephone lines are needed by local officials to respond to the emergency. Do not call local authorities unless you need special assistance. Keep cellphone use to a minimum, as the cellular networks may become overwhelmed.

Potassium Iodide (KI) Tablets

The State of Connecticut issues Potassium Iodide tablets to residents who live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) around the Millstone nuclear power station. Radioiodine is one possible radioactive element that may be released during an operating nuclear power plant emergency.

Potassium Iodide, also known by its chemical name KI, is a stable form of iodine that saturates the human thyroid gland with stable non-radioactive iodine, and is used to prevent or reduce the amount of radioactive iodine that can be absorbed.

Recommended Dose:

  • Adults over 18 – Two tablets (130mg total)
  • Children ages 3 to 18 – One tablet (65mg)
  • Children ages 1 month to 3 years – ½ tablet (32mg)
  • Infants under 1 month old – ¼ tablet (16mg)

Evacuation from the affected area eliminates exposure to the radioactive iodine; therefore another dose of KI is not necessary. Keep in mind that KI alone does not protect from radiation exposure, but is meant to supplement evacuation or sheltering.

The use of KI is only advised in emergencies where the public is likely to be exposed to radioiodine from a nuclear power plant release. Since not every radiation emergency will result in the release of radioactive iodine, KI should only be taken as directed by state officials. If a release of radioactive iodine has occurred or is expected to occur, the public will be advised when to take KI through the EAS radio and TV stations. At Connecticut College, instructions regarding when to take a two-pill KI dose will be issued via the Emergency Communication System.

KI should not be taken if an individual has a known allergy to iodine. As with any medication, individuals should consult with their doctor if they have any concerns.

Please note that state and local officials will not distribute KI tablets within the EPZ during a nuclear incident or emergency. However, host communities have been provided a separate KI stockpile to be able to provide KI to evacuees that did not have access to their own tablets before they left home.

Distribution Procedures

  • Connecticut College has distributed two pill doses of KI to all faculty, staff, and students, (Exp. Date: 01/2020)
  • The Manager of Wellness & Occupational Health will issue KI tablets to new faculty and staff during employee orientation.
  • The Office of Residential Living and Education (REAL) and Student Health Services will issue KI tablets to new students and students returning from Study Abroad Programs.
  • A secured supply of tablets has been provided to trained staff of the Children’s School at Holmes Hall, and will be distributed to students when needed. Parents are asked to sign consent forms during annual enrollment forms.

Since KI will normally not be re-issued, members of the campus community should be aware that they are responsible for keeping track of their pills through the duration of their school enrollment or employment.

A limited supply of KI tablets is stockpiled in the Athletic Center (Office), Crozier-Williams Student Center (Student Life), Harris Dining Hall (Supervisor’s Office), and Campus Safety (Gatehouse) for individuals who may not be able to access their pills during an emergency.