This Safety Guide presents a coherent set of generic criteria (expressed numerically in terms of radiation dose) that form a basis for developing the operational levels needed for decision making concerning protective and response actions. The set of generic criteria addresses the requirements established in IAEA Safety Standards Series No. GS-R-2 for emergency preparedness and response, including lessons learned from responses to past emergencies, and provides an internally consistent foundation for the application of principles of radiation protection. The publication also provides a basis for a plain language explanation of the criteria for the public and for public officials. Contents: 1. Introduction; 2. Basic considerations; 3. Framework for emergency response criteria; 4. Guidance values for emergency workers; 5. Operational criteria; Appendix I: Dose concepts and dosimetric quantities; Appendix II: Examples of default OILs for deposition, individual contamination and contamination of food, milk and water; Appendix III: Development of EALs and example EALs for light water reactors; Appendix IV: Observables on the scene of a radiological emergency.