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What to Do if Attacked 

In the event of a radiological weapons incident, take these basic steps:

If you're inside, close your windows and turn off any external ventilation. This will stop radioactive particles from getting inside. Although filter masks are useful outside, they do not offer any added protection indoors.

If you're outside, get inside, wash up and discard your clothes. This will remove any radioactive particles. You might track in some radioactive fallout, but this danger is offset by the benefits of being indoors. You should stay inside until you're told to do otherwise by law-enforcement officials or emergency personnel. If people start fleeing the scene, it will be harder to contain contamination and to move emergency workers and equipment efficiently.

In all cases, listen for instructions from the authorities. The nature of the required response will depend on the size and type of the dirty bomb.

Iodine tablets are ineffective, because dirty bombs (unlike reactor meltdowns) would be unlikely to release radioactive iodine.

Reproduced with permission from "Weapons of Mass Disruption", Scientific American , November 2002, p. 81. Copyright

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