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Swiss in nuke zones to get disaster kits

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10:47 CET+01:00

In the coming days, some 630,000 households across Switzerland will receive information packs about what to do in the event of a nuclear disaster.

All those living within a 20-kilometre radius of nuclear plants, the so-called nuclear hazard zones, will receive information distributed by the Federal Office for Civil Protection.

The announcement made by the Federal Office on Tuesday is timely, as people across Switzerland will be reminded on Wednesday afternoon to review their safety and evacuation procedures when sirens sound across the country in an annual test. 

The information packs will include detailed advice about what to do and how to prepare for a nuclear disaster, as well as special plastic folders in which recipients are meant to place iodine tablets that were distributed seven years ago.

The iodine tablets are intended to prevent the development of thyroid cancer in the event of a nuclear disaster.

Recipients are advised that the first port of call should be to listen to the radio, where further information about the disaster can be relayed without the need for people to leave their homes. Other advice includes ensuring that all basements are appropriately prepared and protected for such an eventuality.

The advice available at this time focuses on people making themselves safe in their own homes, so-called vertical evacuation. This is because horizontal evacuation plans, whereby people in danger would be removed from hazard zones, have yet to be drawn up.

Such plans are intended to become available later this year. It is not expected that the public will receive full details of these because the sheer number of potential scenarios means that the full documentation would be too wieldy.

Nevertheless, home shelters are seen only as a short-term solution. In the event of a serious accident, evacuation would be by far the safest plan. First reports suggest that evacuation of densely populated areas could be completed in a day, reported newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

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