September may have been National Preparedness Month, but here at the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) we work year round to encourage Illinoisans to be prepared for all types of emergencies that may occur in their area. For folks that live within a 10-mile radius of one of the state’s six nuclear power plants, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) recommends including potassium iodide (KI) tablets in their emergency preparedness kit along with their other supplies.
The IPC and Walgreen drugstores have been working closely with IEMA to distribute vouchers to people living near nuclear power plants that can be brought to one of the 44 participating Walgreens pharmacies and redeemed for free potassium iodide tablets. All residents receiving potassium iodide vouchers should have them by mid-December.
The tablets should only be taken in the event of a nuclear release. If there is a nuclear incident at a power plant in your region, you will be instructed to take the tablets by public health officials. Do not take the tablets without prior notification. Potassium iodide blocks the thyroid’s ability to absorb radioactive iodide and reduces the risk of injury to the thyroid and incidence of thyroid cancer.
As a well-known (and well-oiled) state-wide resource, the IPC has been called upon from time to time to answer questions from the public that may be a beyond the scope of typical calls. The IPC regularly collaborates with local and state agencies to make sure that residents are informed and prepared to respond to emergencies- from natural disasters to chemical threats to terrorist attacks. These partnerships ensure that all agencies involved deliver the same information and are ready to assist residents when needed. In the past few years, the IPC acted as the go-to resource for residents who had questions and concerns during the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Our staff was quickly able to provide information on vaccine locations, and other questions related to H1N1. We also answered many of the questions people had when there was the radiation exposure following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.
If you have questions about potassium iodide, please visit the Ready Illinois or contact the IPC at 1-800-222-1222.
The IPC does more to safeguard the health of Illinois residents than one might suspect. Click here to learn more about the IPC’s role in emergency preparedness and response or here for a free complimentary packet with IPC sticker, magnet and poisoning first aid recommendations.
And as always, no question is too small to make the call: 1-800-222-1222.