Should you include a Geiger Counter in your Survival Kit?


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Three reasons for yes.

If you’ve been watching the news lately you no doubt know that our counterterrorism officials’ greatest fear is that terrorists will get their hands on enough nuclear materials to construct “dirty bombs” – bombs that could turn large areas of cities or communities into radioactive cesspools.

1. The dirty bomb threat

Admittedly, the odds are long on any one community becoming a target for this kind of attack. If you happen to live or work in or near a target area, however, having a reliable Geiger counter could be a real asset

2. Nuclear waste storage

While we don’t own one currently, we are considering purchasing a Geiger counter. For us, the decision is prompted by the fact that we are relatively close to a decommissioned nuclear power plant. It was closed a couple of years ago because of numerous equipment failures as well as design and construction flaws.

At first, its closure made us breathe a sigh of relief. Now however, our concern has risen again because levels of security and emergency planning for the decommissioned plant have been allowed to be reduced. And, finally, nuclear waste materials are being stored on the closed site – which is right on the Pacific Ocean and thus an obvious candidate for becoming the victim of storms and tsunamis.

(Why nuclear material is being allowed to be stored in this location is a question to be raised in another post. If you recognize this story as relating to San Onofre, in southern California, and it interests you, read more at: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nuclear-658213-edison-waste.html)

3. Landfill threatened by fire

You may not have a nuclear power plant nearby, but consider this horror story that came out just last week.

According to St. Louis County (MO) officials, an underground fire at a landfill – a fire that has been burning for 5 years – is now within 1,000 feet of a nuclear waste dump.

Clouds of smoke have already polluted the region. Now it looks as though the fire will reach the decades-old dump filled with nuclear waste from government projects (like the Manhattan Project!) and weapons manufacturing — creating a radioactive smoke plume.

This entire situation became headline news in October when the school district sent out a letter to parents advising them that the school had “an evacuation plan for students” for when the fire reaches the landfill. Apparently, no plans for stopping the fire.

(Again, get more on this story at:  http://thefreethoughtproject.com/st-louis-preparing-nuclear-disaster-landfill-fire-nears-radioactive-waste-site/)

Could you use a Geiger Counter?

If you find yourself in any of these situations, or in similar ones, understanding your exposure to radioactive material may be prudent. If you travel to Japan, or if you are concerned about radiation levels in the food you eat, a Geiger counter could provide you with peace of mind.

In any case, here are two pieces of equipment to consider:

SOEKS 01M Plus Generation 2 Geiger Counter Radiation Detector Dosimeter (NEW Model replaces SOEKS 01M)

GCA-07W Professional Geiger Counter Nuclear Radiation Detection Monitor with Digital Meter and External Wand Probe – NRC Certification Ready- 0.001 mR/hr Resolution — 1000 mR/hr Range

There are less expensive options, including . . .

Smart Geiger Nuclear Radiation Gamma X-ray Personal Detector Counter Tester Sensor for Smartphone Apple iPhone 4 4s 5 5s 6 iPad, Android Phone Samsung Galaxy S3 S4 S5 S6 Note 3 Lg G G2 G3 G App

The $34.70 cost for the Smart Lab app is a no-brainer for people who live and/or work in areas of moderate risk, or for people who just want a backup unit to carry on the road.

We are considering purchasing one of these for testing in our CERT program and, if they work as well as advertised we’ll probably purchase a half dozen for our Special Teams. As for the more expensive instruments, we recommend that you review all of the listed makes and make your decision based on your perceived level of risk and your own personal comfort zone.

UPDATE as of 10/25/2015: When we inquired regarding battery life, we received this email from John at Images Scientific Instruments, Inc., the distributor of the GCA-07W model shown above:

The 9V battery is not rechargeable. You can expect 10-12 hours of Geiger Counter usage per battery. Your battery lifetime time may vary. To extend battery life keep the LCD backlight off. 

The Geiger counter has an external wall transformer power supply for extended monitoring.

Final Note:  If you plan to volunteer as an Investigator with MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) to check out UFO sightings and test for radiation at reported landing sites, you will be required to provide your own Geiger counter. In this case, you will probably want the most sensitive unit  that fits your budget. (!)

Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

An earlier Advisory describes other safety concerns and radiation-related items for your survival kit.  Read it here.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Should you include a Geiger Counter in your Survival Kit?”

  1. Russ Flanigan Says:

    This is compelling
    Is there a shelf life on these units?

  2. Volunteer Says:

    Thanks for the question, Russ. Apparently the GM Tube (Geiger-Muller Tube, that measures the radiation) has a life from 2-20 years — so you don’t want to get an old unit. However, if there’s ever a question as to its accuracy, you can get it re-calibrated (on the expensive models). As for batteries, I’m getting more details on those, since dead batteries probably fall into the definition of “shelf life,” too.

    Joe

  3. Volunteer Says:

    Thanks to reader questions, we contacted the GCA-07W company and updated the post with battery-life information. (See next-to-last paragraph, above.) Note that that model can be plugged into the wall or into a computer if you want to use it over an extended period of time.