Guidelines for Expedient Dot Monitors (Oh Shucks! Meter)

The Expedient Prototype Emergency Dots are training devices as well as an aid to quell panic in an emergency. They are being donated by Physicians for Civil Defense to be used by first responders and the military.

The simple safe/not safe designation is for distinguishing situations where immediate shelter is urgent from one in which there is no immediate danger from radiation and rescue operations and essential work can proceed.

Dots cannot substitute for proper monitoring equipment capable of measuring high doses from the fallout of a nuclear explosion.

The Dots are only for nuclear detonations, not dirty bombs or radioactive cargos etc.

There are no claims or warranties on these Dots.

Visual recognition of bomb fallout— deposits of sand, ash or grit—is the primary sign of danger. An area with visible fallout is not safe.

False positives on the dot can result from dirt or pranks. The Dots will age and get darker with time and from exposure to airport or security x-rays. Instead of yellow orange the Dot may appear greenish. Further darkening from this new baseline after a nuclear explosion indicates hazard, but it is better to replace a dot that has lost its original color.

False negatives occur if the sensor has separated from the covering during cutting. Dots must be prepared with great care, over a dark background, so that the white sensor material can be easily seen.

If a large number of responders in the unit get the same reading, aberrant ones are probably false. If there has been no nuclear explosion, readings are invalid.

The Dots are a stop-gap device for the current Eurasian crisis. No RadStickers are available at this time. There is also not a sufficient inventory of RadTriage badges to supply all first responders. Cutting the current badges into Dots could provide enough for all U.S. first responders. Production and distribution of new inventory of RadTriage badges is desirable but not likely to be achieved quickly enough.

Once the badges are cut into Dots all warranties and claims are void, and you use the Dot at your own risk. “Expedient” means not right but better than nothing.

Dot Monitors can be stored in a freezer and stay fresh for an estimated five years. The best place to use the Dot is stuck to a card in your wallet, credit card, driver’s license, library card, etc. Do not leave Dot in a hot car or sunlight, or carry it through security x-rays. Estimated Dot life in your wallet is one or two years.

The Dot should serve as an introduction to radiation monitoring and motivate people to make their own Kearny Fallout Meter or at least read the first 35 pages of Nuclear War Survival Skills.

Testing notes from Stephen Jones:

You can demonstrate for yourself that the Dot does detect radiation, and you should do so if you are the unit leader. You will probably destroy the usefulness of one or more Dots in the process.

If you have access to an x-ray machine, position the dot such that every time the machine is used the dot is exposed. A single X-ray will not darken the dot. After a number of exposures, the yellow portion of the dot will turn black.

After many trips through a security x-ray, as at airports, the Dot will begin to darken

You can demonstrate the dot by placing the radioactive foil from a smoke detector on it. It will take 3 to 4 weeks to darken the Dot. It will appear a light green under fluorescent light. It takes a couple of weeks longer for the change to become visible in daylight; it will appear to be a light brown. To do a more rapid test, peel off the yellow protective coating and also the thin translucent plastic under it. (These block the alpha radiation from the americium source.) Then it will take about 3 minutes to darken the Dot with a smoke detector foil, and the Dot will turn black if the foil is left on overnight.

It can be tricky to get to the sensor in the dot to test it with a radioactive smoke detector foil. It’s best to use a sewing magnifying glass and work over a black surface so if the sensor material falls out you will see it. The sensor material is crumbly and will easily break up. It may be stuck to the white backing inside the dot and not be removable. If so just place the white part on the radioactive foil.

I’m available for questions during non-emergency times. You can email me at [email protected].

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One thought on “Guidelines for Expedient Dot Monitors (Oh Shucks! Meter)

  1. It can be tricky to get to the sensor in the dot to test it with a radioactive smoke detector foil.
    It’s best to use a sewing magnifying glass and work over a black surface so if the sensor material falls out you will see it.
    The sensor material is crumbly and will easily break up. It may be stuck to the white backing inside the dot and not be removeable. If so just place the white part on the radioactive foil. It will turn blue in about three minutes and black overnight.
    To get to the dot on the card you have to score around the edges with a razor. When you peel back the yellow film there is a tiny square of clear plastic under it or stuck to it. It might fallout but it is not the sensor but looks like the sensor. It’s easy to tell the difference because it won’t crumble or break apart like the sensor.
    This test is somewhat terrorist and you may ruin two or three dots before you figure out what your doing. However it is a worthwhile test and almost essential if you are a leader in a unit or an administrator.
    You need to have confidence that the dot works to lead effectively:
    There is a much simpler test but instead of taking three minutes to darken the dot it will take three or four weeks.
    This test does not destroy the dot and you will still be able to use it.
    Place the yellow part of the dot directly over and against the smoke detector radioactive foil and in three or four weeks look at it under a fluorescent light and you’ll see it is turning a light green. Under normal day light it takes a couple of weeks longer to see the color change and the darkening will appear brownish rather than green.
    You can still use the dot as it will darken further when exposed to dangerous radiation.
    It is better to use a new dot though.
    If you have access to an x-ray machine a single X-ray will not darken the dot. You have to position the dot such that every time the machine is used the dot gets zapped. In time the yellow portion of the dot will turn black.
    If you have access to a security x-ray, five trips throug the machine will begin to darken it. For this reason when passing through security at airports avoid sending your dot through the x-ray.
    I’m available for questions during non-emergency times. You can email me at [email protected]

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