Life, for folks who live and work within 10 miles of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township, is like life anywhere else. A nuclear accident would change that in a second. The small tablets that buy 24 hours of vital protection will be distributed, free of charge, through mid-March, by the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD).

Potassium Iodide tablets (Ocean Co. Health Department)
Potassium Iodide tablets (Ocean Co. Health Department)

Potassium iodide (KI) pills are useful additions to home and work emergency kits for people in Barnegat, Barnegat Light, Beachwood, Beach Haven, Berkeley Township, Harvey Cedars, Island Heights, Lacey Township, Long Beach Township, Ocean Gate, Ocean Township, Pine Beach, Seaside Park, Ship Bottom, South Toms River, Stafford, Surf City and Toms River, according to county Health liaison Gerry Little.

“KI is being offered as a preparedness measure and not in response to any imminent danger or threat," Little said.

The tablets are a concentration of a component of common table salt. What do they do?

“Potassium iodide,...can provide protection for the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine and can reduce the risk of thyroid cancer after a nuclear emergency," according to county Public Health Coordinator Dan Regneye.

" If this should occur, public health officials would tell you when to take the KI tablet. Only one dose is recommended. More could increase the risk of side effects."

Their effectiveness isn't indefinite, so if you have a supply, check the expiration date, and if they've aged out, return them to the Health Department for fresh ones.

In addition to four scheduled off-site clinics, the Health Department distributes them during weekdays 9 AM until 4 PM, in its headquarters, 175 Sunset Avenue in Toms River.

Distribution sites and dates:

  • Berkeley Township, February 15 - Central Regional High School, 509 Forest Hills Parkway, Bayville, 4 - 7 PM
  • Lacey Township, February 28 - Lacey Township Community Center, 101 North Main Street, Forked River, 3 - 7:30 PM
  •  Ocean Township, March 8 - Ocean County Fire and First Aid Training Center, 200 Volunteer Way, Waretown, 3 - 7:30 PM
  • Manahawkin, March 14 - Ocean County Southern Service Center, 179 South Main Street, 4 - 7:30 PM

Bring identification to signify that your home or workplace is within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. ID can consist of a driver's license, property tax record, utility bill, employee ID card, or pay stub.

One family member can receive tablets for everyone else in a household. Each batch given out is accompanied by fact sheets that explain dosage circumstances and amounts, and other relevant details.

Learn more at the Ocean County Health Department web page, or at 732-341-9700, extension 7503. You can follow OCHD via Twitter and Facebook.

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