Answers on Emergency Planning

How You Will Be Notified Of An Emergency

If there is ever an event at the Indian Point site, the public would be informed immediately through the news media and kept apprised of developments, guided by federal regulations and supervision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

There are a few actions that take place in the event of an emergency which require siren notification and therefore the public’s attention. In those extreme instances where there is a potential for or an actual release of radiological materials to the environment, your county executive—in partnership with New York State officials and other county executives—might sound emergency sirens. The sirens are part of the Emergency Notification System, a state-of-the-art system controlled by the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) towns. The system consists of an outdoor notification system and phone notifications and is supported by media alerts and word of mouth. There are 172 sirens located within the 10 miles EPZ surrounding Indian Point Energy Center.

Please note that the sounding of sirens is the first in a series of alert mechanisms and is intended to notify all within audible range (primarily outdoors) to tune into their local Emergency Alert Systems (EAS) radio or television station for additional information and instructions. Sirens do NOT mean you need to evacuate. Once you have tuned into one of the local EAS stations, you will be directed to take one of two courses of action: shelter-in-place or evacuate.

In addition to the outdoor siren notification system, there are two other systems at work to reach residents and business via phone and wireless communications. The first of these is operated by your county executive and is called CodeRED. This reverse dial system is a nationally recognized 9-1-1 system that calls all phone numbers that are listed in its database. These databases are usually compiled with the assistance of the phone company and county directories. The second outreach system is operated by the State of New York’s new advanced emergency information system , NY-Alert. We encourage all residents and businesses to register for emergency event alerting and notification because, by signing up for NY-Alert, you can receive warnings and emergency information via the web, your cell phone, email and other technologies. This is a free service and your information is protected and never shared with any one else. You can modify what type of information you receive or unsubscribe at any time. It is a tool to provide you with critical information when you may need it most.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)

If you are alerted by the warning signal, you should tune to your local Emergency Alert System (EAS) station for emergency instructions. EAS is the direct link between you and the people responsible for your safety. Instructions may be given to you at any hour, day or night, and will include recommendations as to what you should do for your protection. Follow instructions carefully. Do not worry if you miss the beginning of an emergency broadcast. Information will be provided regularly.

Local EAS Stations:

AM Radio

  • WFAN 660
  • WABC 770
  • WCBS 880
  • WFAS 1230
  • WALL 1340
  • WLNA 1420

FM Radio

  • WRRV 92.7
  • WHUD 100.7
  • WFAS 103.9

Television

  • WCBS Ch 2
  • WNBC Ch 4
  • WNYW Ch 5
  • WABC Ch 7

Please note that stations may not be available in all four counties.

Emergency information may also be carried on the following stations:

AM Radio

  • WRKL 910
  • WTBQ 1110
  • WRCR 1300
  • WINS 1010
  • WQBN 1640

FM Radio

  • WNEW 102.7
  • WGNY 103.1
  • WXPK 107.1

Television

  • NEWS 12 Hudson Vallery
The Four Emergency Levels

If an emergency is declared at Indian Point Energy Center, it would be categorized into one of four emergency levels:

  1. Unusual Event:
    This means a minor problem has occurred at the plant. It may involve situations such as hazardous weather or a minor equipment problem. Public officials would be notified, but there would be no need to sound the warning signals. People in the area would not need to take any special actions.
  2. Alert:
    This could affect plant safety, but it is not expected to require any special actions by residents. Public officials would be notified. They would monitor the situation and be ready to act if it got worse. As a precaution, public officials may mobilize transportation resources. They may transfer school children to host schools outside the area and clear state forests and waterways. Emergency Alert System radio or news broadcasts would inform the public of these actions.
  3. Site Area Emergency:
    This means a more serious problem affecting the plant and plant boundaries has occurred. Any release of radioactive materials would be below federal limits. State and local officials would keep people in the area fully informed about any necessary actions through Emergency Alert System radio stations. As a precaution, State officials would move school children to host schools outside the area if this had not already been done. Other precautions would be called for by state officials, as needed.
  4. General Emergency: :
    This is the most serious type of emergency. It could involve serious damage at the plant and a release of radioactive materials. State officials might direct persons in some areas to shelter-in-place or to evacuate to a safer location. Special instructions and other important information would be issued over the Emergency Alert System radio stations.
What protective action should I take?

If there were an emergency at Indian Point, public safety officials might sound the emergency sirens. They would then use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts to direct people to take protective actions. Public safety officials could, for example, direct people in certain Emergency Response Protective Areas (ERPAs) to stay inside behind closed windows and doors. This protective action is called “sheltering-in-place” or simply “sheltering.” Or, public safety officials could direct people living in certain ERPAs to evacuate. Those people would be directed to leave their ERPAs to a point outside the EPZ.

Sheltering Instructions

Sheltering-in-place, that is, being directed by public officials to stay in a house or building with windows and doors closed and outside air vents shut, can be an effective emergency response to a radiation release. Because of wind and other weather conditions, for example, a brief release of radiation could pass through the area very quickly. In that situation, sheltering would provide the best protection. Sheltering-in-place may also be the preferred action in cases where bad weather, such as a snowstorm, prevents efficient evacuation. You could even be told to shelter only until officials mobilize their forces to support an evacuation.

If you are instructed to remain indoors (“shelter-in-place”) because of an emergency, you should:

  • Stay inside.
  • Close all windows and doors.
  • Turn off heaters, air conditioners and any other ventilation systems.
  • Extinguish fires in fireplaces and close dampers.
  • Stay tuned to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) stations.
  • Avoid using telephones, including cell phones, to prevent overloading the system and interfering with emergency use.
  • Keep family and pets inside.
Evacuation

The order to evacuate specific Emergency Response Protection Areas (ERPAs) would be given by public safety officials through EAS broadcasts on radio or TV. People who are told to evacuate could go to the home of a relative or friend outside of the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ). Or, they could go to their designated General Population Reception Centers. Evacuation might be only a precaution. You might be able to return home relatively soon. The entire EPZ would probably not be evacuated—only specific ERPAs.

Based on the plant conditions and wind directions, people in specific ERPAs may be instructed to leave. That is why you should know which ERPA you are in, so you don’t evacuate unnecessarily. An unnecessary evacuation would tie up traffic for people in the ERPAs actually being evacuated. Do not evacuate unless your specific ERPA is told to do so by officials on Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcasts.

If you are instructed to evacuate because of an emergency, you should:

  • Be certain that your ERPA is actually being evacuated. Do not evacuate unnecessarily.
  • If your ERPA is being evacuated, you should arrange to leave as soon as possible by car or by emergency bus. Keep your car windows closed and use only re-circulating ventilation if your car is so equipped.
  • Refer to the Evacuation Supplies checklist (LINK to checklist page) for items to bring with you during an evacuation.
  • Take the evacuation routes designated on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page).
  • If you have children in school, they will probably have already been relocated by school authorities. You can pick them up at their School Reception Center shown on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page).
  • Proceed to your ERPA’s General Population Reception Center designated on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page). As an alternative, you can go to the home of a friend or relative outside of the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ).
  • When people are instructed by public officials to evacuate, they will also be instructed to swallow a dose of KI-potassium iodide (LINK to KI-potassium dropdown), an over-the-counter drug. KI can protect one part of your body—your thyroid—if you are exposed to a specific form of radiation, radioactive iodine.

If your ERPA is being evacuated, remain calm and follow directions carefully. Public officials make every effort to allow sufficient time to evacuate an ERPA before there is danger of exposure.

General Population Reception Centers

For families being evacuated who may not have a relative or friend that they can go to outside the EPZ, the counties have established General Population Reception Centers. These Centers are located in schools outside the EPZ, and they correspond to specific ERPAs. You have to know which ERPA you are in to find out which General Population Reception Center you should go to. At these Centers, families will be evaluated for possible radiological contamination. And, they will be able to obtain information on a place to stay, food, medical attention or other needs. Safety and public health officials will be present at each Center. The Centers corresponding to your ERPA are found on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page).

Evacuation Routes and Transportation

Evacuation Routes
A great deal of time has been sent researching and planning for an evacuation. Therefore, people should take the evacuation routes identified on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page) to their General Population Reception Centers unless otherwise instructed. Safety officials will have various traffic control strategies in place to make travel as efficient as possible.

While traveling in the car, keep all windows and vents closed until you have left the EPZ. And, remember to keep the car radio tuned to an Emergency Alert System station.

Emergency Buses
If you do not own a car, free emergency buses will pick you up along bus routes located near your home. The buses will take you to your General Population Reception Center. Emergency bus routes closest to you are identified on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page). You will be notified by TV or radio when pickups will begin.

What Do To As You Leave

As you evacuate, remember to:

  • Turn off lights and unnecessary appliances.
  • Close and lock windows and doors.
  • Check with neighbors to see if they need assistance. Offer to share transportation, if you can.
  • If you need a ride, try to get one with neighbors.
  • If you cannot get a ride, buses will pick you up along bus routes and at pick-up points.
  • If you have livestock, shelter them. Leave them a three-day supply of stored feed and water that has been protected from possible contamination.

Consider items you may want to take with you:

  • Clothing for several days, with warm and cool layers
  • Toilet articles (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
  • Prescription medicines, medical equipment and important medical records
  • Eyeglasses/contacts and solution
  • Special dietary foods
  • Baby supplies: food, formula, diapers, toys, etc.
  • Identification (driver’s license) and important papers, medical insurance card, photos of children
  • Portable radio with spare batteries
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • KI-potassium iodide tablets
  • Bottled water
  • Checkbook, credit card and cash
  • Blankets, pillows and towels (if you plan to stay at a public mass care shelter)
Children in Schools

An emergency could, of course, occur at any time of the day or night. It could happen during hours when your children are in school. Because of this possibility, county officials, in close consultation with safety experts from New York State, other counties and school districts, have worked out careful plans for relocating schoolchildren in a potential emergency.

As a precautionary action, at the first indication of a potential problem, emergency officials might decide to relocate schoolchildren. The children would be taken with their teachers by bus to School Reception Centers located outside of the EPZ. The School Reception Centers provide temporary care for children awaiting pick-up by parents. To avoid congestion and delays, parents should not attempt to pick up their children at school during an emergency. Children who are relocated to School Reception Centers will be registered and will stay there, under the care of teachers, until parents can pick them up.

Relocation is a precautionary action. The County Executive would make the decision to relocate schoolchildren relatively quickly in order to get schoolchildren safely out of the way of any potential danger. Children will be taken to a General Population Reception Center only if there is a need for qualified caregivers to feed and shelter the children until parents arrive.

Remember: School Reception Centers are not the same as General Population Reception Centers.

TV and radio broadcasts will keep you informed about school relocations. The School Reception Centers corresponding with your children’s schools are located on the map (LINK to map on EPZ Page).

If your child’s school is relocated:

  • Don’t worry if you can’t immediately pick up your children for any reason. They will be cared for at the reception center or ultimately at a General Population Reception Center.
  • School Reception Centers will be used only if students need to be relocated during school hours. If an evacuation of an Emergency Response Planning Area (ERPA) should be ordered after your children are already at the School Reception Centers, they will not be a part of the evacuation. You must pick them up at their school’s School Reception Center.
  • If your child or children are in daycare, nursery school, after school programs or other settings located within the EPZ, check with their daycare provider on emergency plans for their location.

Please note:

  • Relocation of schoolchildren would most likely be carried out as a precaution only. Relocation would not be an indication that a radiological release would occur or has occurred. It would not necessarily mean that an evacuation would be ordered either.
  • Check with your child’s school to learn more about relocation planning.
  • If parents would like to authorize another person to pick up their children—a grandparent or baby sitter, for example—they should contact their child’s school at their earliest convenience. They must follow that school’s procedures for formally identifying the person who would pick up their child.
People with Special Needs

If there is a need for an evacuation, the County has plans in place to pick up and transport people with special needs who have no other means of transportation. Special needs could include a walking disability, sight or hearing impairment, or need for specialized medical equipment or transportation. People with special needs would be taken to General Population Reception Centers or other facilities.

If you have special needs, please fill out the registration card (LINK to registration card) and mail it in so we can make arrangements to help. If you know someone who might need assistance filling out the card, please offer to help them. Even if you mailed in a card last year, please do so again to keep our records up-to-date.

Taking Care of Your Pets and Livestock

If you are directed to evacuate, you will want to take your pets with you. However, pets will not be permitted inside General Population Reception Centers (except service animals such as seeing-eye dogs). Make a list of places that would accept your pets in an emergency, such as boarding kennels, or friends and relatives outside the EPZ.

If you have livestock or agricultural products, useful information is available on the New York State Emergency Management Office’s website at nysemo.state.ny.us (LINK) or by calling (518) 485-6011 and asking for the brochure, Radiological Emergency Information for the Agricultural Community.

How can KI-potassium iodide protect me and my family in the event of an emergency?

Potassium Iodide, known by its chemical symbol KI, is an over-the-counter medication. In the event of a serious nuclear plant emergency, KI-potassium iodide has a safety value as a supplement to sheltering and evacuation. It reduces the risk of thyroid cancer from exposure to radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine could be among the materials released in a severe emergency. KI-potassium iodide protects only the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive Iodine. It does not protect any other part of your body, and it does not protect you from other forms of radiation. All four counties have made KI-potassium iodide available free of charge to everyone living within the EPZ. Because KI is most effective within a few hours of a release, residents should be in possession of KI prior to an emergency. You should obtain a supply of KI-potassium iodide for your family and keep it in a safe place as a precaution. Obtaining KI-potassium iodide prior to an emergency is one step closer to being prepared to protect your thyroid.

One KI-potassium iodide tablet protects the thyroid gland from radioactive iodide for approximately 24 hours. It is most effective if taken immediately prior to exposure as directed. However, thyroid protection can still be achieved by swallowing a KI-potassium iodide tablet up to six hours after radiation exposure. Listen to your Emergency Alert System (EAS) stations for instructions about KI-potassium iodide.

County authorities will advise the public through news broadcasts on TV and radio when and if they should swallow KI-potassium iodide tablets. Both adults and children would be instructed by public health officials what dosages they should swallow.

If you are told to swallow KI-potassium iodide and evacuate but you do not have KI-potassium iodide, simply evacuate. If necessary, you will be given KI-potassium iodide at your General Population Reception Center.

If you need to receive your supply of KI, please contact your county’s office of emergency services:

1-800-942-1457   Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services
1-800-942-7136   Orange County Department of Emergency Services
1-800-942-1450   Rockland County Office of Fire and Emergency Services
1-800-942-1452   Westchester County’s Office of Emergency Services

Download a printable copy of these FAQs.