Emergency Preparedness

TVA Nuclear’s high operating standards and highly trained workforce make it unlikely that an accidental release of radiation would ever happen. Nevertheless, emergency preparedness is an integral part of TVA’s nuclear program. Here’s a guide to what to do should an emergency happen.

Emergency supplies checklist

To help you prepare for any type of emergency, we have provided two lists of supplies. One lists items you may need to keep in your home to aid your response. The second lists supplies to take with you if you are asked to leave the area. Check the supplies you have on hand and add those not on hand.

Emergency supplies for your home

  • First-aid kit
  • Toolbox
  • Candles and matches
  • Potassium iodide tablets*
  • Portable radio, flashlight, extra batteries

Evacuation supplies

  • This calendar
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Personal health products (shaving cream, toothbrush)
  • Necessary foods for dietary restrictions
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Cash, checkbook, credit cards, important papers
  • Items for children (favorite toys, books)
  • Change of clothing
  • Potassium iodide tablets*

*Potassium iodide tablets: During a nuclear emergency, you might be exposed to radiation that could harm your thyroid gland, and public health officials may direct you to take potassium iodide (KI) tablets. The tablets can reduce the amount of radioactive iodine absorbed by your thyroid gland.

The tablets will be given only to those persons from the affected areas who may have been exposed to radioactive iodine. It is important that you know the sector that you evacuated from, and that you read and understand the consent form you will receive prior to taking the tablets. Take the tablets only as directed, and call your public health office if you have questions.

If told to “go inside—stay inside”

This means go inside the nearest safe building or structure (building, home or business) and stay inside until further notice.

If you are advised to take shelter indoors

  • Go indoors and stay there.
  • Close all doors and windows.
  • Shut off all systems that draw outside air into the house such as furnaces, air conditioners, fireplace vents and dampers.
  • Stay tuned to your local Emergency Alert System (EAS) radio or television station. These are the best sources for information and instruction.
  • Prepare to evacuate.
  • If you must go outside, protect your breathing. Place a damp cloth or towel over your nose and mouth.
  • If you are told that it is safe to go outside, try to check on your neighbors. They may not have heard the announcements.
  • Do not use the phone unless you have a special emergency and need help. Leave the lines open for official business.

If you are advised to monitor and prepare

This is a precautionary action to advise the public within the Emergency Planning Zone that a serious emergency at the nuclear plant exists and you should monitor the situation and prepare for the possibility of evacuation, shelter in place or other protective actions.

If you are asked to leave (evacuate) the area

  • Follow the instructions and evacuation routes for the plant near your home: Browns FerrySequoyah or Watts Bar.
  • Stay calm and do not rush. Evacuation can work properly and reduce your risk if you act safely and calmly.
  • Take a few items with you. Gather personal items you or your family might need. Use the checklist above for guidance.
  • Turn off lights, appliances and water.
  • As you leave, lock your house and tie a white cloth or white towel on your front door to let emergency workers know everyone has left the area.
  • Please leave your pets at home (preferably indoors) with plenty of food and water. If you must bring your pet to a reception center, it must be in a pet carrier or other sturdy container. Pets will NOT be allowed in public shelters.
  • Use your own transportation, or if possible make arrangements to ride with a neighbor. Keep car windows and air vents closed.
  • Listen to an EAS radio station.
  • Use the links below to find the evacuation routes for your nuclear plant and determine which you should follow.
  • If you need a place to stay, shelter information points will be located along the controlled evacuation routes.

If an evacuation is underway, members of the public who are NOT directed to evacuate should remain off the roadways to allow the evacuation to proceed.

While you are away

  • Local police officers will secure the evacuated areas to protect homes and businesses.
  • ONLY authorized person will be allowed into the evacuated areas.
  • Officials of the Tennessee Department of Radiological Health or Alabama Department of Public Health will monitor the affected areas. You will be notified when it's safe to return home.

If you need additional assistance during an emergency

Your health and safety are important to us. Therefore, special plans must be made to assess and care for individuals who have disabilities or access and functional needs. 

If you or someone you know lives within 10 miles of the nuclear plant and will need additional assistance during an emergency, please contact an emergency management official (for local officials, see the individual plant pages):

Tennessee Valley Authority
(800) 467-1388

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency
(615) 741-0001

Alabama Emergency Management Agency
(800) 843-0699

Dial 711 for TTY/Relay Service

For farmers and home gardeners

If an incident occurs at a TVA nuclear plant, your local emergency management agency will issue directions for contacting your agricultural extension agency for information on how to protect your crops and livestock. For more information, listen to your local TV and radio station. You can also follow this basic advice:

Protect your crops

  • An unharvested crop is hard to protect. But normal harvesting and processing may still be possible if time permits.
  • Crops already harvested will be safer if they are stored inside.
  • You should wash and peel vegetables and fruits from your garden before use if they were not already harvested.

Protect your livestock

  • Provide as much shelter as possible. If you do not have enough space in barns or sheds, use natural shelters such as wooded lots or culverts.
  • Take care of milk animals first.
  • Provide plenty of food and water and make sure shelters are well ventilated.
  • Use stored feed when possible.