Advice on Preparing for Disaster
(Including Nuclear Disasters)
Feds give practical advice on preparing for terrorist attacks
(Content provided by: Jennifer Warner, Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD, on Tuesday, March 18, 2003,WebMD Feature)
As the threat of terrorist attack appears more real every day, officials have some advice on how to prevent and prepare for possible terrorist attack. Aside from the usual "be aware of your surroundings" rhetoric, new guidelines urge Americans to take more practical steps ranging from assembling a "disaster supply kit" to keeping a supply of duct tape and plastic sheeting on hand to seal off their homes if necessary.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security say most of the precautions aren't necessarily new and are based on disaster preparedness programs of the American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The report outlines recommended responses to a variety of potential acts of terrorism, including bomb scares as well as biological, chemical, nuclear, and cyber attacks and is the first major public education effort launched by the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.
High-risk targets include military and civilian facilities, international airports, large cities, and high profile landmarks. But terrorists might also target food and water supplies, large public gatherings, utilities and corporate centers.
The nature of terrorism means there is often little or no warning, so officials says preparedness is the best defense.
Preparing for a building explosion:
Preparing and responding to a chemical or biological attack:
First and foremost, in this type of attack tune in to your radio or TV for instructions from authorities about whether to evacuate or remain indoors. They will advise you of what to do during and after the attack. Among other things you can do:
Preparing for nuclear attack:
In case of nuclear or radiological attack:
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A nuclear blast resulting from a terrorist act, a nuclear accident or an all out nuclear war would have a devastating effect. The energy released from a nuclear explosion in a number of different ways:
Make Your Survival Plans
Your risk of being directly effected by a nuclear blast is significantly greater if you live in a large urban area or near a military installation. Your chances of surviving a nuclear disaster can be improved with a few preparations.
Learn Your Community's Warning System
Communities have different ways to notifying its residents of emergencies. You should determine the method(s) used by your community to notify you in the event of a disaster.
Prepare a Shelter
A below ground shelter will provide the best protection from the radiation fallout following a nuclear explosion. Your shelter should have adequate ventilation, light and sanitation. See Disaster Shelters for more detailed information.
Assemble Emergency Supplies
Have enough food, water and medicines to last you an extended period of time. Consider adding Potassium Iodide tablets to your emergency supplies, as Potassium Iodide can help to block radiation absorption. See Emergency Supplies for more detailed information.
Know the Warning Signs
A nuclear explosion will cause an intensely bright flash followed by a thunderous explosion both of which can be perceived from over a hundred miles from the blast site. Electrical systems may also fail when a nuclear blast occurs.
During a Nuclear Disaster
Don't Look at the Blast.
Do not look at the flash, as it can cause major damage to the retina.
Seek Cover Immediately
Upon seeing the flash from the nuclear explosion, you may have no more than one second to find cover. If you are within a few feet of cover, move to the cover immediately; otherwise drop to the ground and cover your head and neck.
If you are more than ten miles from the nuclear detonation, you are better off seeking shelter as opposed to evacuating. Traffic jams and other complications will more than likely occur as great numbers of people flee from the detonation site.
Avoid Radioactive Fallout
A Fallout Shelter will offer you the best protection from radioactive fallout after a nuclear explosion. If a fallout shelter is unavailable, put as much shielding between you and the fallout as possible. A basement some distance away from the blast area will help protect you from radiation.
Consider adding Potassium Iodide tablets to your emergency supplies, as Potassium Iodide can help to block radiation absorption in the event of a radiological emergency.
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