Learn about the nature of terrorism:
- 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 exits 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.
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.
- More information on Bioterrorism preparedness and response is available online from the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control.