It has been a week since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the situation continues to deteriorate. Thousands of people are homeless, many of whom are of advanced age, and the winter weather does not let up. It is cold, they are exposed to the elements, they have little food and less water, and the danger from TEPCOs damaged nuclear power plant is growing daily.
Yet people on the US west coast seem more worried about their own exposure to radioactive winds than those still suffering in Japan. All reports, and even common sense, tell us that the radiation will be so dissipated by the time it reaches the US that it will pose almost no risk (and we say almost no risk simply because there is no such thing as no risk), yet Americans spend time, eneregy and resources (including dollars) trying to protect themselves from this non-threat. I have even heard some people say that we should not be asking our troops to risk themselves trying to help.
It would be my hope that people would see that we must think more about those at "ground zero" than those "back home." Japan cannot fix this on its own, and we cannot sit back and think, "Better you than me." Even if you refuse the notion of altruism, helping over there is the best way to protect over here. If the problem is not fixed at the source, our exposure will only grow.
If you're thinking of buying, or trying to buy, potassium iodide pills, don't bother. You don't need them. You also don't need a home geiger counter. Instead, donate that money to an organization directly involved in fixing the problem. It'll go much farther in protecting you than anything else you could do.