A terrorist attack with weapons such as firearms, explosives, incendiary devices, nuclear, biological or chemical in the United States remains a real possibility, especially due to religious differences, the policies and practices of foreign nations and the U.S. government, such as oppression, taxation, loss of liberties, foreign invasions and occupancy, collateral civilian deaths caused by cluster bombing and targeting heavily inhabited civilian populations. These acts could be carried out by individuals, small factions or by well planned groups or “cells” currently residing within U.S. borders. The nature of these weapons may be small and improvised or professionally engineered devices of mass destruction.
Specific Terrorist Threats
A Biological Attack is the deliberate release of germs or other substances that can make you sick. Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or eaten to make you sick. Some biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases. Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can catch from other people.
A Chemical Attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment.
Possible Signs of A Chemical Threat: 1) Many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, having trouble breathing or losing coordination; 2) Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for suspicion.
A Nuclear Blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water and ground surfaces for miles around. While experts may predict at this time that a nuclear attack is less likely than other types, terrorism by its nature is unpredictable.
A Radiation Threat, commonly referred to as a “dirty bomb” or “radiological dispersion device (RDD),” is the use of common explosives to spread radioactive materials over a targeted area. It is not a nuclear blast. The force of the explosion and radioactive material contamination will be more localized. While the blast will be immediately obvious, the presence of radiation will not be clearly defined until trained personnel with specialized equipment are on the scene. As with any radiation, you want to try to limit exposure. It is important to avoid breathing radiological dust that may be released in the air.
Three Key Steps that Individuals and Families Should Take to be Properly Prepared for Unexpected Emergencies!
Terrorists are working to obtain biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons, the threat of an attack is very real. Improving our national preparedness is not just a job for the professionals—law enforcement, firefighters and others. All Americans should begin the process of learning about potential threats so we are better prepared to react during an attack. There are important differences among potential threats that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take.
While there is no way to predict what will happen, or what your personal circumstances will be, there are simple things you can do now to prepare yourself and your loved ones.
1) Assemble an Emergency Kit
All of us should be able to survive comfortably on our own for at least a three day period. That’s the amount of time you need to remain in your home (or place of work) until the danger from a biological, chemical or radiological attack has passed. You’ll need:
A change of clothes
Food and water. A gallon of water per person per day should be enough. Canned and dried foods are easy to store and prepare.
Start now by gathering basic emergency supplies:
a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, prescription medicines and toilet articles. Duct tape and heavy-duty plastic garbage bags can be used to seal windows and doors. Remember the special needs of certain family members. Infants, the elderly and persons with disabilities need the same planning as everyone else, and sometimes a little more, to be prepared for a terrorist attack (i.e., diapers, formula, bottles, denture needs, extra glasses, extra wheelchair batteries, etc.) Make sure all household members know where the kit is kept. You should also consider bringing a disaster kit to work and/or leaving one in your car.
2) Make a Family Communication Plan
Your family may not be together at home when an attack occurs. Make sure everyone knows contact numbers and how to get in touch.
It may be wise to have everyone call an out-of-state friend or relative.
Keep a list of emergency numbers near the phone.
Select a “safe room” where everyone can gather. The best choice is an interior room above ground with few windows and doors.
3) Be Informed & Learn More About Readiness
Planning helps. If your family knows what to expect, they will be calmer in the aftermath of a terrorist event. For example, you should find out where to turn for instructions, such as local broadcasting networks. Local authorities will broadcast information as quickly as possible concerning the nature of the emergency and what you should do next. Be sure to keep listening for updates.
There are other ways to plan ahead. Take a first aid and CPR class so that you can provide emergency medical help. Review your insurance policies to reduce the economic impact of a potential disaster. Remember to make accommodations for elderly family members and neighbors or those with special needs. Finally, try to make arrangements for pets not allowed in public shelters.
Prepare to deal with a terrorist incident the same way you would prepare for any other crisis.
Be alert and aware of the surrounding area. Notice your immediate surroundings. Be aware of heavy or breakable objects that could move, fall or break in an explosion. Learn where emergency exits are located. Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, subway or congested public area in a hurry. In a building explosion, get out of the building as quickly and calmly as possible.I
f you find yourself trapped in debris.
Use a flashlight.
Stay in your area so that you don’t kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle, if one is available. Shout only as a last resort as shouting can cause a person to inhale dangerous amounts of dust. Untrained persons should not attempt to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Unwelcome Surveillance of Education Facilities
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have outlined activities that may suggest potential unwelcome surveillance of educational facilities. These indicators alone may in fact reflect legitimate activity not related to terrorism.
However, “multiple indicators” could suggest a heightened terrorist or criminal threat.
Unusual interest in security, entry points, and access controls or barriers such as fences or walls; Interest in obtaining site plans for schools, bus routes, attendance lists and other information about a school, it employees or students; Observation of security/fire drills or procedures; Increase in anonymous telephone or e-mail threats to facilities in conjunction with suspected surveillance incidents; Foot surveillance involving individuals working together; Mobile surveillance using bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, cars, trucks, etc.; Prolonged static surveillance using people disguised as panhandlers, shoe shiners, food, newspaper or flower vendors not previously seen in the area; Discreet use of still cameras, video recorders, note-taking, or the use of sketching materials (paper, pencil, etc.) at non-tourist locations; Unexplained presence of unauthorized persons in places where they should not be; Questioning of security or facility personnel.
Make a plan… Make sure everyone knows emergency phone numbers, and when to call them. Learn evacuation routes. Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home. Establish meeting places and phone numbers in case family members are separated. Keep emergency supplies on hand… Create a Disaster Supplies Kit. Be sure to include: portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, flashlights, fresh batteries, non-perishable food and drinking water, essential medicines and a first-aid kit. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Listen to your NOAA Weather Radio… Stay informed about the latest watches, warnings, and advisories. Follow all emergency instructions. Be prepared to evacuate. Care for your family… Remain calm and be patient. Confine or secure your pets. Call your family contact—do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency. Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.
Secure your home… If the disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
Learn about the nature of terrorism.
Terrorists often choose targets that offer little danger to themselves and areas with relatively easy public access. Foreign terrorists look for visible targets where they can avoid detection before or after an attack such as international airports, large cities, major international events, resorts, and high-profile landmarks. Learn about the different types of terrorist weapons including explosives, kidnappings, hijackings, arson, and shootings.
Prepare to deal with a terrorist incident by adapting many of the same techniques used to prepare for other crises.
Be alert and aware of the surrounding area. The very nature of terrorism suggests that there may be little or no warning. Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended. Learn where emergency exists are located. Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, subway or congested public area in a hurry. Learn where staircases are located. Notice your immediate surroundings. Be aware of heavy or breakable objects that could move, fall or break in an explosion. Preparing for a Building Explosion The use of explosives by terrorists can result in collapsed buildings and fires.
People who live or work in a multi-level building can do the following:
Review emergency evacuation procedures. Know where fire exits are located.
Keep fire extinguishers in working order. Know where they are located, and how to use them. Learn first aid. Contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross for additional information.
Keep the following items in a designated place on each floor of the building.
Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
Several flashlights and extra batteries
First aid kit and manual
Several hard hats
Fluorescent tape to rope off dangerous areas
If you receive a bomb threat, get as much information from the caller as possible. Keep the caller on the line and record everything that is said. Notify the police and the building management.
After you’ve been notified of a bomb threat, do not touch any suspicious packages. Clear the area around the suspicious package and notify the police immediately. In evacuating a building, avoid standing in front of windows or other potentially hazardous areas. Do not restrict sidewalk or streets to be used by emergency officials.
In a building explosion, get out of the building as quickly and calmly as possible.
If items are falling off of bookshelves or from the ceiling, get under a sturdy table or desk.If there is a fire.
Stay low to the floor and exit the building as quickly as possible. Cover nose and mouth with a wet cloth. When approaching a closed door, use the palm of your hand and forearm to feel the lower, middle and upper parts of the door. If it is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly. If it is hot to the touch, do not open the door–seek an alternate escape route. Heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling. Stay below the smoke at all times. AFTER
If you are trapped in debris.
Use a flashlight.
Stay in your area so that you don’t kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort–shouting can cause a person to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
Untrained persons should not attempt to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
Chemical agents are poisonous gases, liquids or solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. Most chemical agents cause serious injuries or death.
Severity of injuries depends on the type and amount of the chemical agent used, and the duration of exposure.
Were a chemical agent attack to occur, authorities would instruct citizens to either seek shelter where they are and seal the premises or evacuate immediately. Exposure to chemical agents can be fatal. Leaving the shelter to rescue or assist victims can be a deadly decision. There is no assistance that the untrained can offer that would likely be of any value to the victims of chemical agents.
Biological agents are organisms or toxins that have illness-producing effects on people, livestock and crops.
Because biological agents cannot necessarily be detected and may take time to grow and cause a disease, it is almost impossible to know that a biological attack has occurred. If government officials become aware of a biological attack through an informant or warning by terrorists, they would most likely instruct citizens to either seek shelter where they are and seal the premises or evacuate immediately.
A person affected by a biological agent requires the immediate attention of professional medical personnel. Some agents are contagious, and victims may need to be quarantined. Also, some medical facilities may not receive victims for fear of contaminating the hospital population.