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Using Emergency Techniques to Prepare for Terrorism

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Using Emergency Techniques to Prepare for Terrorism

The first step in protecting yourself from terrorism is to get educated. Learn about the nature of terrorism.

  • Terrorists look for visible targets where they can avoid detection before or after an attack. Such places may include international airports, large cities, major international events, resorts, and high-profile landmarks.
  • Terrorists use many different types of weapons. These include 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.

Before an Emergency

No one knows when an emergency situation may develop. It is best to be prepared and vigilant at all times.

  • 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

Bomb Threats

If you receive a bomb threat, follow these steps:

  • 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 immediately.
  • After you've been notified of a bomb threat, do not touch any suspicious packages.
  • Clear the area around the suspicious package.
  • In evacuating a building, avoid standing in front of windows or other potentially hazardous areas.
  • Do not block or restrict sidewalk or streets to be used by emergency officials.

During an Emergency

In a building explosion, follow these steps:

  • 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 an Emergency

If you are trapped in debris:

  • Use a flashlight, if you have one.
  • 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.

Assisting Victims

  • Untrained persons should not attempt to rescue people who are inside a collapsed building. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive.


Federal Emergency Management Agency

Last updated October 2004 by ]]>Krisha McCoy, MS]]>

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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