Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Terrorist Hazards

There are all those natural disasters to prepare for - and disasters caused by accidents - but, sadly, there are also those events that can be caused by terrorists that we need to prepare for. At Ready.gov they call these "terrorist hazards" and list 6 potential threats:
  1. Biological;
  2. Chemical;
  3. Cyber;
  4. Explosions;
  5. Nuclear Blast; and
  6. Radiogical Dispersion Device
Preparation for all these begins with the basic disaster preparation steps:
Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

For biological and chemical acts, for the most part you want to shelter in place until an
"all clear" is given. HEPA filters can help screen out biologics. For chemical events, you will want to turn off that ventilation system and use duct tape and plastic sheeting from your emergency kit can help to seal doors and other air entry points until you get that "all clear":
If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:

- Close doors and windows and turn off all ventilation, including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
- Seek shelter in an internal room and take your disaster supplies kit.
- Seal the room with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
- Listen to your radio for instructions from authorities.
Cyber attacks can run the gamut from those threatening national security to those that are most likely to affect you and your family:
Transportation, power, and other services may be disrupted by large scale cyber incidents. The extent of the disruption is highly uncertain as it will be determined by many unknown factors such as the target and size of the incident.
Photo by Christopher Mardorf
In such cases, many things not connected to the internet may continue to function normally (your car, for example) your lights, heat/air conditioning, water and other things may be impacted. Once again, that emergency kit is vital.

Most terrorist driven explosions will not be directed to individual dwellings but at place that can maximize the "terror effect" or damage infrastructure - which might include damaging power and water structures:
There can be significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to buildings and the infrastructure. So employers need up-to-date information about any medical needs you may have and on how to contact your designated beneficiaries.
- Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels follows a terrorist attack due to the event's criminal nature.
- Health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits, maybe even overwhelmed.
- Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.
- Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.
Photo by Benjamin Crossley
- You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding roads blocked for your safety.
- Clean-up may take many months.
In event of a nuclear blast, if you are in a safe place away from the blast, the best thing to do may be to shelter in place and await instructions:
- Stay where you are, even if you are separated from your family. Inside is the safest place for all people in the impacted area. It can save your life.
- During the time with the highest radiation levels it is safest to stay inside, sheltered away from the radioactive material outside.
- Radiation levels are extremely dangerous after a nuclear detonation but the levels reduce rapidly.
- Expect to stay inside for at least 24 hours unless told otherwise by authorities.
Got a workplace Emergency Supply Kit?

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)
Terrorist use of an RDD — often called “dirty nuke” or “dirty bomb” — is considered far more likely than use of a nuclear explosive device. An RDD combines a conventional explosive device — such as a bomb — with radioactive material. It is designed to scatter dangerous and sub-lethal amounts of radioactive material over a general area. Such RDDs appeal to terrorists because they require limited technical knowledge to build and deploy compared to a nuclear device. Also, the radioactive materials in RDDs are widely used in medicine, agriculture, industry and research, and are easier to obtain than weapons grade uranium or plutonium.

The primary purpose of terrorist use of an RDD is to cause psychological fear and economic disruption. Some devices could cause fatalities from exposure to radioactive materials. Depending on the speed at which the area of the RDD detonation was evacuated or how successful people were at sheltering-in-place, the number of deaths and injuries from an RDD might not be substantially greater than from a conventional bomb explosion.
Once in your shelter:
If you have time, turn off ventilation and heating systems, close windows, vents, fireplace dampers, exhaust fans, and clothes dryer vents. Retrieve your disaster supplies kit and a battery-powered radio and take them to your shelter room.

Seek shelter immediately, preferably underground or in an interior room of a building, placing as much distance and dense shielding as possible between you and the outdoors where the radioactive material may be.

Seal windows and external doors that do not fit snugly with duct tape to reduce infiltration of radioactive particles. Plastic sheeting will not provide shielding from radioactivity nor from blast effects of a nearby explosion.

Listen for official instructions and follow directions.

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