Potassium Iodide (KI) and How to Protect Yourself From Radiation Poisoning

With the current potential nuclear crisis in Japan, I have been inundated with questions about Fallout Survival, Nuclear Preparedness, General Preparedness and Potassium Iodide among many other things.  I realized that while a lot of these things are covered on Utah Preppers, Potassium Iodide is kind of glossed over.  This post is my answer to all those questions and should be a definitive post on KI or Potassium Iodide.  Please note: at this time, due to the crisis in Japan, KI is Sold Out pretty much everywhere.

Potassium Iodide or KI is a salt of iodine and is what the body uses to make thyroid hormones.  If you are exposed to radioactive iodine through fallout , your thyroid will quickly absorb it into your thyroid and cause serious problems.  By super loading your thyroid with safe iodine via Potassium Iodide you can minimize your bodies absorption of radioactive iodine.  It should be noted that Potassium Iodide is NOT a cure for radiation sickness nor will it prevent other problems that will occur from fallout or radioactive exposure.

Potassium Iodide should be taken when exposure to radioactive iodine is imminent.  Local Government and Health Officials will notify the public if this precaution becomes necessary.

Taking Potassium Iodide does not provide 100% protection against radioactive iodine.  Factors include how soon prior to being exposed that Potassium Iodide was ingested, how fast it can absorb into your blood and the total amount of radioactive iodine the person is exposed to.  In other words, it’s critical to take as soon as notification is issued, that you take it in a liquid form and that you take the proper dose.  And, of course, that you limit your exposure to any kind of fallout as much as possible.

There are two typical forms of Potassium Iodide, liquid and tablet.  The liquid form typically comes as a crystalline powder that you mix with water.  Tablets come in 130 and 65 mg, the 130 mg are typically scored for easy cutting.  The dosages are as follows:

  • Adults – 130 mg
  • Breastfeeding Women – 130 mg
  • Children 3-18 – 65 mg
  • Children over 150 lbs – 130 mg
  • Infants & Children 0-3 yrs – 32 mg
  • Newborn – 16mg

Taking a higher dose of Potassium Iodide or taking more than is recommended does not offer more protection and may cause severe illness or death!

These doses of Potassium Iodide are sufficient for 24 hours.  Typical expectations of exposure risks are that if dosing is needed it will likely only be needed for 24 hours.  However, it is possible that exposure risks will continue for several days.  Local Government, Health Officials and Emergency Managers will notify you as to how long you should be taking it.

Potassium Iodide may be harmful to you if you are allergic to iodine or with certain skin disorders.  There is minimal risk to taking Potassium Iodide unless it is taken for several days, you take more than the recommended dosage or you have a pre-existing thyroid disease.

Summing it up:

In my opinion, the easiest way to figure out how much Potassium Iodide to store is to calculate the maximum adult dosage (not the lower children’s dosage) for each member of your family and multiply it by 7 (1 week).  This is designed to give you an excess to allow for spillage, etc.  So, for my family of 10, I calculate 130 mg X 7 X 10 = 9100 mg or 9.1 grams.  I purchase Potassium Iodide in 40 gram bottles (typically for $10 – $15) and have enough for pretty much my whole neighborhood.

3 Replies to “Potassium Iodide (KI) and How to Protect Yourself From Radiation Poisoning”

  1. Hello Utah Prepper readers: FYI – Californai’s four reactors are approximately 700 miles and Arizona’s three reactors are approximately 650 miles away from Salt Lake City (as a reference point). Radioactive iodine is a particle that is heavier than air, so it is unlikely that any will reach you. Any nuclear power plant accident release would be so dilute that the risk of radiation effects would be far less than the risk of taking the KI tablets. Think twice before you use these, because it is really not giving you the protection you think you are getting. Buying up the supply of KI tablets we have on hand here in the US creates a shortage that may hurt those who really need it – the Japanese.

  2. Is the dosage different when taking the liquid versus the tablets? I thought the talbets had 30mgs of compound factored in.

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