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Radiation Protection

Will it be safe for me to eat food or drink water from my area after a radiological emergency?

Food in sealed containers, bottled water, sealed juice, unopened soda containers and any unspoiled food in your refrigerator or freezer will be safe to eat. Use a damp towel or cloth to wipe off cans, bottles, packaged foods, counters, plates, pots and utensils before using them. After use, seal these towels or cleaning cloths in a plastic bag and place them away from people and pets.

Food and beverages that were left out in the open, unsealed, may have radioactive dust on the surface. This dust is harmful if ingested. Do not consume these foods or beverages.

Water from the tap is probably safe. But until drinking water tests are conducted, only bottled water is certain to be free of contamination. Further, it is important to note that boiling tap water does not get rid of radioactive material, but it will protect you from germs.

Tap or well water can be used for cleaning yourself and cleaning your food unless told otherwise by emergency response officials. 

For more information about protecting yourself and your family in the event of a radiological emergency, visit Radiological Emergency Response.

Information is also available on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Radiation Emergencies page at

Return to Frequent Questions about Radiation Protection.