With a little planning and common sense, you can be better prepared for the unexpected-including disasters. That’s why, increasingly, families are being encouraged to prepare for emergencies by assembling supplies and developing a family communications plan. See www.Ready.gov.
Experts say a family emergency reserve should contain one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation, and a three-day supply of nonperishable food.
It’s also recommended that the stock contain vitamins, nutritional supplements and other products such as liquid potassium iodide, which can be used to help protect against radiation sickness.
An over-the-counter product called Thyroshield is the only FDA-approved liquid potassium iodide product indicated for thyroid protection in a radiation emergency.
A black raspberry-flavored oral solution, it blocks the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine, when taken within hours of exposure.
The main ingredient in the solution is a salt of iodine, which works by saturating the thyroid gland so that radioactive iodine cannot be absorbed. Without this “blocking” effect, exposure to radioactive iodine can cause thyroid damage and possibly lead to thyroid cancer.
Some say an oral solution is favored in an emergency because it is easier to administer. Since Thyroshield is in liquid form, it is thought to be better for families with small children. A similar substance in pill form can be bitter tasting and needs to be crushed and mixed with juice to make it more palatable-particularly for children. This can take valuable time during an emergency.
It is important to note that potassium iodide is not a general protective agent; it protects only the thyroid gland. It works best if taken before exposure, but may still be beneficial when taken up to several hours after exposure.
Although salt of iodine is sometimes added to regular table salt to make it ” iodized,” iodized salt is not a substitute for an FDA-approved potassium iodide product for use as emergency protection against radioactive iodine.