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Preparing for Nuclear Incidents

The likelihood of a nuclear incident or attack occurring in Los Angeles is very low. Nevertheless, it’s important to prepare for any hazard we may face in Southern California, including possible nuclear and radiological incidents.

Nuclear threats today are significantly diminished from the days of the Cold War when buildings had fallout shelters and school children practiced “duck and cover” -- but threats still do exist. There are simple steps you can take to prepare for a nuclear incident and to protect yourself if it does happen.



To prepare for a nuclear event, follow the three basic readiness steps used for any hazard, including earthquakes, floods, and fires:

  • Have an emergency plan that allows you to communicate and reunite with your loved ones.
  • Keep 7 to 10 days of emergency supplies like water, food, and medical necessities. You should also have a battery-powered flashlight and AM/FM radio in case you lose electricity.
  • Register with NotifyLA to receive emergency alerts via text, voice, or email message.

You may also want to pre-identify the best rooms for taking shelter in your home, workplace, school, or other places where you spend a lot of time. A good shelter-in-place location is an interior room with no windows on the lower floors of a building. The goal when sheltering-in- place during a nuclear event is to put as many walls as possible between you and harmful radiation and contaminated material.  Keep your emergency supplies in this room, or in a “go bag” you can easily grab before moving to the room.



The Emergency Management Department (EMD) is tasked with managing Citywide preparation, mitigation, and response -- should the worst happen. To see plans already in place for this type of disaster, view the Nuclear Appendix of LA City's overall Emergency Operations Plan. Also, refer to the LA City Local Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Plans for other large-area disasters and emergencies in Los Angeles



If a nuclear event is occurring or about to occur:

GET INSIDE a sturdy building as quickly as you can, even if you are far from the blast site. Go to a room without windows on the lowest floor that’s close to the center/core of the building. If you are unable to get inside, take cover behind a sturdy object and stay low to the ground.

STAY INSIDE the building. Shelter-in-place. Do not go outside or look out windows to observe the blast and fallout, as this can expose you to radiation and cause serious damage to your eyes.

STAY TUNED to updates from public safety and government authorities or trusted media sources. Some communications systems may be down. During emergencies, simple text messages often work best. You may also want to have a battery powered or hand-crank radio.



During any emergency, officials with the City of Los Angeles will do their best to communicate with Angelenos on as many platforms as possible. Some communications tools the City uses are:

Public safety officials will communicate when it is safe to leave your shelter, where to go after, and what to do next.

After a nuclear event, infrastructure and communications systems that power your television, cell phone, internet, and other information/communications tools may be impacted. The best way to get information or communicate with others may be older tools, such as battery-powered AM/FM radios, two-way radios (walkie talkies), or "ham" radios. 



The most important thing to remember is to stay calm. The likelihood of a nuclear event is low, but you should be prepared. Being prepared for a nuclear event will mean you’re also better prepared for other things that can -- and at some point most likely will -- happen in Los Angeles, including earthquakes, floods, and fires. Together, we can be a more ready and resilient City.