Tips on Preparing For Terrorism
The threat of terrorism has been brought home to America in a shockingly personal manner. However, it is not a new threat and you can do something to be prepared. For years, Santa Clara has prepared for a variety of potential disasters. The following techniques can help.
1. Get The Facts
While terrorist attacks with chemical, biological or nuclear agents are possible, the likelihood of their use is not high.
- Chemical agents are poisonous gases, liquids or solids. They are difficult to manufacture and to deliver in quantity. For example, the Pentagon estimates that a ton of sarin would be necessary to produce 10,000 casualties.
- Biological agents are organisms or toxins that have illness-producing effects. Again, they are difficult to manufacture and to deliver. Aum Shinrikyo, with millions in funding and sophisticated staff, was unable to produce a biological weapon after five years of trying.
- Nuclear agents are substances that generate harmful radiation. Nuclear devices and materials are closely monitored and difficult to obtain.
The preferred terrorist weapon of choice continues to be conventional explosives. They can be easily manufactured and transported, as we saw in the Oklahoma City bombing. Fortunately, good physical security practices and public awareness can help prevent this type of attack.
2. Accept Responsibility For Your Own Safety
An aware and informed public is our best defense against terrorism. We must all do our part to keep our community safe. Terrorism is a crime and crime prevention strategies work very well. These include:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Notice where emergency exits are located. Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, subway or congested public area in a hurry.
- Report suspicious objects, packages, vehicles or persons to the appropriate authorities.
- Cooperate with security procedures at your place of work and in public places.
- Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended.
- Don't spread rumors - confirm questionable information with a credible source.
3. Prepare For All Emergencies
The Bay Area is prone to many disasters, earthquakes for example, and not just terrorist attacks. The same preparedness measures work well for many different types of emergencies. Some key things you can do:
- Make copies of important personal/business documents and store them in a safe place.
- Identify an out of state contact person so family and friends can communicate with you during an emergency.
- Develop an individual/family/business emergency plan.
- Plan for a meeting place if you cannot meet at home.
- Discuss what children should do if at school.
- Coordinate with neighbors for pick-up if children attend the same school.
- Designate a surrogate parent for your children if you are not able to tend to them; provide this information to your child's school.
- Learn how to locate and shut-off (if necessary) power, water, and gas.
- Stockpile emergency supplies for 3-7 days, including prescription medicines and a first aid kit.
- Know your community resources.
4. Volunteer To Help
A successful response to an emergency requires a great deal of help. Several volunteer groups have been pre-trained and are part of City emergency plans. Joining one of these organizations now increases your personal preparedness and your value to the City in emergencies. Some key organizations are:
5. If A Terrorist Attack Occurs
- Remain calm and follow the instructions of Fire and Police personnel.
- Be alert to secondary hazards such as falling debris or additional devices.
- If you are trapped in debris:
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 rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort - shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
- Monitor the media for emergency information and bulletins. The emergency stations are: KCBS 740 AM, KGO 810 AM, KNBR 680 AM
- Do not rush to the scene to volunteer - City emergency services will establish volunteer reception sites and will announce these sites through the media.
6. How To Report An Emergency
- Call 9-1-1
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- State your name.
- Describe the emergency
- What happened?
- Where did it happen?
- Who is involved?
- Stay on the phone.
7. Reporting A Bomb Threat
- Time and date the threat was reported.
- How was the threat reported?
- Exact words of the caller.
- Ask the caller:
- When is the bomb going to explode?
- Where is the bomb right now?
- What kind of bomb is it?
- Why did you place the bomb?
- Where are you calling from?
- Description of the caller's voice:
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- Tone of Voice.
- Describe background noise.
- Voice characteristics.
- Time the caller hung up.
Sheltering In Place
Santa Clara Fire Department Recommendations:
If local officials tell you to "shelter in place", this means that you are to:
- Remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there.
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace damper.
- Get your disaster supplies kit, and make sure the radio is working.
- Go, if possible, to an interior room without windows that is above ground level.
- In the case of a chemical threat, an aboveground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
- Use duct tape to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
- Keep listening to your radio or television until told all is safe or told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greater risk in your community or workplace.
Reprinted from a Brochure published by your
City of Santa Clara Fire Department
Office of Emergency Services