What is terrorism?
is the use of force or violence against persons or property
for the purpose of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists often
violence and threats to create fear among the public, to try to
that their government is powerless to prevent acts of terrorism, and to
immediate publicity for their causes.
Acts of terrorism can range from threats to actual assassinations,
airline hijackings, bomb scares, car bombs, building explosions,
dangerous materials, agroterrorism, computer-based attacks, and the use
chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons—weapons of mass
Why talk about terrorism?
addition to the natural and technological hazards described
elsewhere in this guide, people face threats of terrorism posed by
groups, individuals, and hostile governments.
Terrorists can be domestic or foreign, and their threats to people,
communities, and the nation range from isolated acts of terrorism to
High-risk terrorism targets include military and civilian government
facilities, international airports, large cities, and high-profile
Terrorists might also target large public gatherings, water and food
utilities, and corporate centers. They are capable of spreading fear by
explosives or chemical and biological agents through the mail.
What is the National
Terrorism Advisory System?
INFORMED: KNOW HOW YOU WOULD RECEIVE ALERTS, WARNINGS, AND EMERGENCY
Officials will provide alerts, warnings, and emergency instructions to
general public, nearly always by radio and television. Sirens,
systems, and other warning systems may also be used. Broadcast stations
and television) licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
required to participate in the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and
warnings. Many cable television networks also carry emergency warnings
NOAA Weather Radio disseminates advisories, watches, and warnings
the same radio and television stations, as well as directly through
Weather Radio. In addition, many communities have specific sirens,
|We have updated the advisory system section below to reflect changes in the system since the guide was originally published.
National Terrorism Advisory System, or NTAS, replaces the color-coded
Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). This new system will more
effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by
providing timely, detailed information to the public, government
agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and
the private sector.
recognizes that Americans all share
responsibility for the nation’s security, and should always
be aware of
the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and what
they should do.
Imminent Threat Alert
of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the
Elevated Threat Alert
of a credible terrorist threat against the United States.
After reviewing the
available information, the Secretary of Homeland
Security will decide, in coordination with other Federal entities,
whether an NTAS Alert should be issued.
NTAS Alerts will only be
issued when credible information is available.
These alerts will include a
clear statement that there is an imminent threat
or elevated threat.
Using available information, the alerts will provide a concise summary
of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to
ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals,
communities, businesses and governments can take to help prevent,
mitigate or respond to the threat.
The NTAS Alerts will be
on the nature of the threat: in some cases, alerts will be sent
directly to law enforcement or affected areas of the private sector,
while in others, alerts will be issued more broadly to the American
people through both official and media channels.
NTAS Alerts contain a sunset provision indicating a
specific date when the alert expires - there will not be a constant
NTAS Alert or blanket warning that there is an overarching threat. If
threat information changes for an alert, the Secretary of Homeland
Security may announce an updated NTAS Alert. All changes, including the
announcement that cancels an NTAS Alert, will be distributed the same
way as the original alert.
- An individual threat
alert is issued for a specific time period and then automatically
expires. It may be extended if new information becomes available or the
What is the best source of
information in the event of a terrorist act?
case of a terrorist act of any kind, you should pay close attention
to official instructions via radio, television, and whatever other
alert, warning, and providing instructions officials may use. In the
area of a terrorist act, officials of the local police, fire, and other
departments are the best sources of information and instructions.
What general precautions can
I take in advance to protect myself from a terrorist act?
of the steps you should take to prepare for the possibility of a
terrorist act are the same steps you should take to prepare for natural
technological disasters: Stay informed; make a Family Disaster Plan
keep it up to date; assemble and maintain a Disaster
Supplies Kit; learn
and practice evacuation and sheltering procedures; and prepare for any
protective measures included in your plan.
Within the immediate area of a terrorist act, you would need to rely on
fire, and other officials for instructions. However, you can be ready
terrorism in much the same way you would stay alert for other
aware of your surroundings.
or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if
something does not seem right.
prepared to evacuate or to take shelter if
officials instruct you to do so.
precautions when traveling.
aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior.
where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how
out in the event of an emergency.
the location and availability of hard hats
in buildings in which you spend a lot of time.
if your local radio and television stations
participate in the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
prepared to do without services you normally
depend on—electricity, telephones, natural gas, gasoline
pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and Internet transactions.
with apartment and office building owners
to ensure that the following items are located on each floor of the
not accept packages from strangers.
not leave luggage unattended.
report unusual behavior, suspicious or unattended packages, and
strange devices to the police or security personnel.
battery-operated radio and extra batteries
flashlights and extra batteries
aid kit and manual
hats and dust masks
colored tape to rope off dangerous areas
If you are an employer—
sure your workplace has
a building evacuation plan that is regularly practiced.
a critical look at your
heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to determine if it is
or if it could feasibly be upgraded to better filter potential
and be sure you know how to turn it off if you need to.
about what to do if
your employees cannot go home.
sure you have
appropriate supplies on hand.
Appropriately to Increases in Threat Conditions of the National
Terrorism Advisory System
be prepared, no matter what the threat condition under the National Terrorism Advisory
what the threat
conditions mean, and make sure members of your household know too.
with children their
fears about terrorists, terrorist attacks, or other hazards they may
frightening to them.
emergency supplies for your vehicle, and Family
expanding your Family
Disaster Plan by
developing more detailed plans for communications
with household members and out-of-area contacts.
the room your
household would use to shelter-in-place for a short time, and gather
prepare the items needed to seal the room.
for someone to take care of your pets, even evacuating them if
necessary, in case you are not home in an emergency but the pets are.
the person is familiar with your pet, knows where the pet’s
emergency kit is
and to take it along, and knows how to reach you so you can be reunited
choose the room or space
for a tornado shelter and protection from radiation, preferably in the
or for protection against
a chemical agent, choose a room on a higher floor, preferably an inner
most easily sealed against outside air in which to “Shelter-in-Place”.
what the plans are for
each threat condition at your workplace, at your children’s
schools or daycare
centers, or any other place members of your household spend time.
with school officials to
determine their plans for an emergency and procedures to reunite
parents and caregivers. •
you live in an apartment building, discuss with the building manager
preparations management has made and exactly what you should do during
you have a mobility
problem or other special need, make emergency plans for warning,
and shelter with your family, friends, employer, co-workers, and
your neighbors to
discuss their plans and needs.
alternative routes to
and from school, work, and other places to which you routinely travel.
drivers in your household practice them.
your community’s public
warning system. Learn what the warning signals sound like and what you
do when you are notified.
informed by routinely
listening to a local radio or television station.
addition to your Family
be prepared with a disaster plan at work, at school, or
wherever you spend considerable time.
where emergency exits
are located in buildings you frequent.
Notice where exits are when
you enter unfamiliar buildings.
Plan how to
get out of a
building, subway, congested public area, or traffic in an emergency.
where staircases are
heavy or breakable
objects that could move, fall, or break in an explosion.
• Ensure that you and your
family can continue functioning even if you cannot return home by
updating the important documents you keep in safe places inside and
your home. In your primary family vehicle, keep a copy of your Family
Disaster Plan and
copies of other items or information you
would need if something were to prevent you or other family members
returning home for several days, or even longer. (Your Family
Disaster Plan contains
the phone numbers of family members
and out-of-town contacts; postal and email addresses; prescription
the phone numbers of prescribing physicians.)
In response to elevated threat
under the Homeland Security Advisory System:
the Homeland Security
Advisory System threat condition is yellow (significant risk):
extra observant and report any suspicious activity to authorities.
the threat condition is
orange (high risk), to the steps for yellow, add:
high-profile or symbolic locations.
a need is announced, donate blood at a designated blood collection
the threat condition is
red (severe risk), to the steps for orange and yellow, add:
caution when traveling.
restrictions to normal activities.
your employer to determine whether or not to go to work.
public gathering places, such as sports arenas, fairgrounds, theme
parks, or other high-risk locations. -Keep listening to a local radio
television station for possible warnings or instructions.
to shelter-in-place or evacuate if instructed to do so by officials.
training in first aid and CPR/AED. Contact your local chapter of the
American Red Cross for information.
Specific Types of
What can I do to protect
myself and my family from specific types of terrorism?
there are general precautions you and your family can take to
help prepare for various types of disasters, many protective measures,
those that follow, are addressed to one or more specific kinds of
the nature of the threats they pose.
applies to different
types of terrorist attacks, but details vary. For example, you would
tape and plastic sheeting to seal an internal room against chemical
sheltering against radiation dispersed by a radiological dispersion
or “dirty bomb”) or radioactive fallout particles
after a nuclear explosion,
you would normally prefer a basement shelter to a higher floor; duct
plastic would help keep radioactive dust out, but primary protection
radioactive particles would be achieved by applying the principles of
and time (see “Factors for Protection From Radioactive
measures for the most commonly known and logically anticipated
are covered in the following sections.
I. BUILDING EXPLOSION
What can I do before a
terrorist attack to protect myself and my family from building
most common terrorist attacks, those that have caused the most
casualties and damage, have been explosions.
Being Prepared for an
can collapse buildings and cause fires. If you live or work in a
large or multi-level building, or visit one frequently, you should:
where emergency exits
and practice emergency
evacuation procedures. Get training in first aid and CPR/AED. Contact
chapter of the American Red Cross for information.
sure that the following items are on your floor of the building
and you know where to find them:
extinguishers in working order. (Make sure you know how to use them.)
portable, battery-operated radio or television and extra, fresh
and extra, fresh batteries.
aid kit and first aid manual.
tape to rope off dangerous areas.
If an Explosion Occurs at
Work or in a Public Building, Sports Arena, or Stadium
the building as quickly
as possible. Do not stop to retrieve anything or to make phone calls.
the stairs, not an
things are falling around
you, get under a sturdy table or other object that can shield you until
stop falling. Then leave quickly, watching for weakened floors and
falling debris as you exit.
an open arena or stadium
without a dome, the open field may be the safest place, however
things stop falling.
there is a fire, stay low
to the floor and exit the building as quickly as possible. (For further
information, see “Fire, Residential”)
If you are trapped by debris:
not light a match.
not move about or stir up
your mouth with a
densely woven handkerchief or clothing.
tap on a pipe or
wall so that rescuers can hear where you are.
a whistle if one is
only as a last resort
when you hear sounds and think someone will hear you. Cover your mouth
with a handkerchief or cloth instantly after each shout to prevent dust
inhalation. Shouting can cause a person to inhale dangerous amounts of
II. CHEMICAL WEAPONS
chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and what can I do to protect
and my family?
agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids, and solids
that have toxic effects on people, animals, or plants. They can be
bombs or sprayed from aircraft, boats, and vehicles. They can be used
liquid to create a hazard to people and the environment. Some chemical
may be odorless and tasteless. They can have an immediate effect (a few
to a few minutes) or a delayed effect (2 to 48 hours). Chemical agents
potentially lethal are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations.
the agents often dissipate rapidly. Chemical agents are also difficult
A chemical attack
could come without
warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty
breathing, experiencing eye irritation, losing coordination, becoming
or having a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs. Also, the
presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent
What to Do to Be Prepared
for a Chemical Weapon
Supplies Kit to
make sure you have available and ready to use:
roll of duct tape (recommended thickness of 10 millimeters) and
may want to store these
items that you would use to seal a room against chemical agents in the
room selected as the place to shelter-in-place.
an internal room to
shelter in, preferably one without windows and on the highest level.
owners should encourage
local health authorities to have plans for people and their pets to be
decontaminated together, where they can be treated quickly, to prevent
sheeting for doors, windows, and vents for the room in which you will
To save critical time during an emergency, pre-measure and pre-cut the
sheeting for each opening (recommended thickness of 4 to 6 millimeters
How to Shelter-in-Place (Chemical Incident)
following information is for safety in the event of a chemical
information about where to go in the event of a nuclear/radiological
(fallout shelter), see below.
officials advise people in a specific area to shelter-in-place
of a short-term chemical release, households
should have the following in the
sheeting pre-cut to
fit room openings. (Cut the plastic a minimum of 6 inches wider than
opening. The thickness of the plastic should be 4 to 6 millimeters or
tape and scissors. (The
thickness of the duct tape should be 10 millimeters or greater.)
A shelter-in-place room should be an interior room, preferably one
windows, that you can seal to block out air that may be contaminated by
short-term release of hazardous chemical agents. The room should be
ground-level floor. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground
is preferable because some agents are heavier than air and may seep
basements even if the windows are closed.
based on the need to shelter for only a few hours— more than
for a short-term release of airborne agents to dissipate. Ten square
feet of floor
space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide
for up to five hours, assuming each person is resting and breathing at
rate. The cloud released by a terrorist’s chemical weapon
would have dissipated
within three hours.
local officials are unlikely to recommend the
public shelter in a sealed room for more than 2-3 hours because the
effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes with time as the
outside air gradually seeps into the shelter. At this point, evacuation
the area is the better protective action to take. In any event, follow
instructions from local officials, and ventilate the shelter when the
has passed to avoid breathing contaminated air still inside the shelter.
What to Do During a
following are guidelines for what you should do in a
If you are
instructed to shelter-in place in your home or office building, you
and lock all windows
and exterior doors.
your pets with you, and
have additional food, water, and cleaning supplies for them.
off all ventilation,
including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
to shelter in an internal
room and take your Disaster Supplies Kit. Be sure you have a working
the room with duct tape,
plastic sheeting, and modeling clay. Use duct tape with a minimum
10 millimeters and pre-cut plastic sheeting with a thickness of 4 to 6
millimeters or greater to seal all cracks around doors, windows, and
all wall plugs, switch plates, and cables. Use duct tape to seal around
and to seal off drains or other such openings.
you are told there is
danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
your emergency contact.
Ideally your room will have a hard-wired telephone. Cellular telephone
may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency. You will need a
if you have to report a life-threatening emergency.
listening to your radio
or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to
officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in
the fireplace damper.
your pets with you, and
be sure to bring additional food and water for them.
pets under your direct
control. If you have to evacuate, you will not lose time trying to find
plenty of plastic bags
and newspapers (puppy training pads are also useful for this), as well
containers and cleaning supplies to deal with pet waste.
If you are caught in an
unprotected area, you should:
upwind of the
shelter as quickly as
What to Do After a Chemical Attack
is needed within minutes of exposure to minimize health
consequences. Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to
others until authorities announce it is safe to do so.
A person affected by a chemical agent requires immediate medical
a professional. If medical help is not immediately available,
yourself and assist in decontaminating others.
should be decontaminated
along with their owners, according to the best practices for each type
hazard. Any pet with you when you become contaminated may then
or others (cross-contamination). If you and your pet may have been
together, contact your local health authorities as well as your doctor
extreme caution when
helping others who have been exposed to chemical agents.
all clothing and other
items in contact with the body. Contaminated clothing normally removed
head should be cut off to avoid contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth.
contaminated clothing and items into a plastic bag and seal it.
hands using soap and water. Remove eyeglasses or contact lenses. Put
a pan of household bleach to decontaminate them, and then rinse and dry
eyes with water.
wash face and hair
with soap and water; then thoroughly rinse with water.
areas likely to have been contaminated. Blot (do not swab or scrape)
cloth soaked in soapy water and rinse with clear water.
clothes. Clothing stored in drawers or closets is likely to be
to a medical facility
for screening and professional treatment.
III. BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
What are biological
weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and what can I do to protect
myself and my family?
agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate
people, livestock, and crops. The three basic groups of biological
would likely be used as weapons are bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Most
biological agents are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down
when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others,
anthrax spores, are very long lived. Terrorists can disperse biological
by spraying them into the air, by infecting animals that carry the
humans, and by contaminating food and water. Delivery methods include:
agents can be dispersed into the air
as a fine mist or powder that may drift for miles. Inhaling the agent
disease in people or animals.
diseases can be spread by insects and
animals, such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes, and livestock.
pathogenic organisms and toxins can
persist in food and water supplies. Most microbes can be killed and
deactivated by cooking food and boiling water. Most microbes are killed
boiling water for one minute, but some require more time. Follow
few infectious agents can be spread
from person to person. Humans have been the source of infection for
plague, and the Lassa viruses. Specific information on biological
available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, www.bt.cdc.gov.
What to Do Before a
with your doctor to ensure that all
required or suggested immunizations are up to date. Children and the
are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.
installing a High Efficiency
Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your furnace return duct. A HEPA
99.97% efficient in capturing particles 0.3 micron in diameter and will
out most biological agents that may enter your home. If you do not have
heating or cooling system, a stand-alone portable HEPA filter can be
owners and managers should determine the type and level of
filtration in their structures and the level of protection it provides
biological agents. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and
(NIOSH) provides technical guidance on this topic in its publication, Guidance
for Filtration and Air-Cleaning Systems to Protect Building
Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks. To
obtain a copy,
call 1-800- 35NIOSH or visit http://www.cdc.gov/NIOSH\publist.html
request or download NIOSH Publication 2003-136.
If There Is a Biological
an explosion, a biological attack may or may not be immediately
obvious. While it is possible that you will see signs of a biological
as was sometimes the case with the anthrax mailings in 2001, it is
likely that local health care workers will report a pattern of unusual
or there will be a wave of sick people requesting emergency medical
You will probably learn of the danger through an emergency radio or TV
broadcast, or some other signal used in your community. You might get a
telephone call or emergency response workers may come to your door.
event of a biological attack, public
officials may not immediately be
able to provide information on what you should do. It will take time to
determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and
who is in
danger. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the
Internet for official news including the following:
you in the group or area
authorities consider in danger?
are the signs and
symptoms of the disease?
medications or vaccines being distributed?
Who should get them?
should you get
emergency medical care if you become sick?
What to Do During a
Declared Biological Emergency
a family member becomes
sick, it is important to be suspicious.
not assume, however, that
you should go to a hospital emergency room or that any illness is the
the biological attack. Symptoms of many common illnesses may overlap.
common sense, practice
good hygiene and cleanliness to avoid spreading germs, and get medical
if you are in the
group or area authorities believe to be in danger.
your symptoms match those
described and you are in the group considered at risk, immediately get
emergency medical attention.
If you are
doctors and other public health officials.
the disease is contagious,
expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment. You may be advised
away from others.
you have been exposed, you
might be quarantined.
expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance nearby:
with soap and water.
TV, listen to the
radio, or check the Internet for official news and information
the signs and symptoms of the disease are, if medications or
being distributed, and where you should get medical attention if you
you become sick, get
|Using HEPA Filters
filters may be useful in biological attacks. If you have a central
heating and cooling system in your home with a HEPA filter, leave it on
is running or turn the fan on if it is not running. Moving the air in
through the filter will help remove the agents from the air. If you
portable HEPA filter, take it with you to the internal room where you
taking shelter and turn it on.
If you are in an apartment or office building that has a modern central
and cooling system, the system’s filtration should provide a
level of protection from outside biological contaminants.
HEPA filters will not filter chemical agents.
IV. RADIOLOGICAL DISPERSION
is a radiological dispersion device (RDD) and what can I do to protect
myself and my family?
Terrorists’ use of an RDD—often called
“dirty nuke” or “dirty
considered far more likely than their 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
material over a general area, but no nuclear explosion is involved.
to terrorists because they require limited technical knowledge to build
deploy compared with a nuclear device. Also, the radioactive materials
are widely used in medicine, agriculture, industry, and research and
to obtain than weapons-grade uranium or plutonium.
The primary purpose of terrorists’ use of an RDD would be to
psychological fear and economic disruption. Some devices could cause
from exposure to radioactive materials. Depending on the speed at which
area of the RDD detonation was evacuated or how successful people were
sheltering-in-place against radiation, the number of deaths and
an RDD might not be substantially greater than from a conventional bomb
The size of the affected area and the level of destruction caused by an
would depend on the sophistication and size of the conventional bomb,
of radioactive material used, the quality and quantity of the
material, and the local meteorological conditions, primarily wind and
precipitation. The area affected could be placed off-limits to the
several months during cleanup efforts.
What to Do Before an RDD Attack
is no way of knowing how much warning time there might be before
an attack by terrorists using an RDD or which measures the situation
for, so being prepared in advance and knowing what to do and when are
important. Be ready to take the same protective measures first that you
for a conventional explosion (see General Precautions on page TR-2 and
Explosion on page TR-5). Also be ready to take additional measures you
for protection from fallout radiation after a nuclear blast. The force
blast would be like a conventional explosion, not a nuclear blast. (See
During an RDD Attack
the explosive blast of an RDD will be immediately obvious, the
presence of radiation will not be known until trained personnel with
specialized equipment are on the scene. Whether you are indoors or
home or at work, be extra cautious if you witness an explosive blast.
It would be safer to assume radiological contamination has
occurred—particularly in an urban setting or near other
targets—and take the proper precautions. As with any
radiation, you want to
avoid or limit exposure.
If you are outdoors:
to shelter indoors
appropriate shelter is not
available, move as rapidly as is safe upwind and away from the location
explosive blast. Then, move to appropriate shelter as soon as possible.
listening to a local
station on your radio or television for instructions from local
whether you have evacuated or sheltered-in-place.
not return to or visit an
RDD incident location for any reason.
If you are indoors:
the time you have
available. If you have time, turn off ventilation and heating systems,
windows, vents, fireplace dampers, exhaust fans, and clothes dryer
your Disaster Supplies Kit
battery-powered radio and
take them to your shelter room.
preferably underground or in an interior room of a building, placing as
distance and dense shielding as possible between you and the outdoors
radioactive material may be.
instructions and follow directions.
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
or from blast effects of a nearby explosion.
What to Do After an RDD
from an RDD could affect a wide area,
depending on the amount of conventional explosives used, the quantity
of radioactive material released, and meteorological conditions.
dissipation rates vary, depending mostly on the decay rate of the
materials dispersed by the RDD and how much of the radioactive material
in any particular spot after it is scattered by the explosion.
be more practical than staying in shelter near any spots with
radioactivity readings. An RDD will not produce a high-altitude cloud,
cannot carry radioactive particles hundreds of miles as a surface-level
V. NUCLEAR WEAPONS
nuclear weapons and what can I do beforehand to protect myself and my
a nuclear explosion?
explosion of a nuclear weapon produces a blast or shock wave,
intense heat, thermal radiation, initial nuclear radiation, and
nuclear radiation. Such nuclear devices can range from a weapon carried
intercontinental missile launched by a hostile nation to a single
transported to a port or major city by terrorists. The danger of a
strategic nuclear attack on the United States, involving many weapons,
with the end of the Cold War in 1989. However, some terrorists have
supported by nations that have nuclear weapons programs.
Hazards of a Nuclear
nuclear devices cause deadly effects when exploded,
including blinding light, intense heat (thermal radiation), initial
radiation, blast, fires started by the heat pulse, and secondary fires
by damage to buildings, gas and electrical lines, etc. In addition, a
explosion at or near the earth’s surface produces radioactive
rise in a mushroom-shaped cloud, and ultimately fall as radioactive
nuclear weapon detonated high in or above the earth’s
atmosphere can create an
electromagnetic pulse (EMP), a high-density electrical field that acts
powerful stroke of lightning.
The extent, nature, and arrival time of these hazards are difficult to
The geographical dispersion of hazard effects will be defined by the
of the device. A more
powerful bomb will produce more distant effects.
above the ground the
device was detonated. This will determine the extent of blast effects.
high altitude nuclear
explosions can produce EMP (electromagnetic pulse) effects throughout a
1,000-mile radius or more on the surface of the earth.
of the surface beneath
the explosion. Some materials are more likely to become radioactive and
airborne than others. Flat areas are more susceptible to blast effects
conditions. Wind speed and direction will affect arrival time of
Precipitation may wash fallout from the atmosphere, affecting where it
the amount of fallout affected areas receive, and where it settles as
absorbed, puddles or runs off of surfaces.
Blast and Fire
of the material damage caused by a nuclear explosion at or near
the surface is due directly or indirectly to the shock (or blast) wave
accompanies the explosion. Fires that burn out remaining buildings may
caused by the force of the explosion breaking gas or electric lines or,
to the explosion, caused by initial thermal radiation.
there were threat of
an attack from a hostile nation during a crisis, which is not currently
threat, people living near potential targets could be advised to
they could decide on their own to evacuate to an area not considered a
target. Protection from radioactive fallout would require taking
shelter in an
underground area or in the middle of a large building.
potential targets of
strategic or terrorist nuclear weapon attacks include:
missile sites and
of government such as
Washington, D.C., and state capitals
technology, and financial centers
electrical power plants, and chemical plants
ports and airfields
if individuals are not close enough to be directly affected by the
blast, heat, or immediate radiation, they may be affected by the
radioactive fallout. Blasts that occur at or near the earth’s
much greater amounts of fallout than blasts that occur at higher
This is because the tremendous heat produced from a nuclear blast
updraft of air, which forms the familiar mushroom cloud. When a blast
near the earth’s surface, millions of vaporized dirt
particles are also drawn
into the cloud. As the heat diminishes, radioactive materials that have
vaporized condense on the particles and fall back to earth. The
called radioactive fallout. This fallout material decays over a long
time and is the main source of residual nuclear radiation.
particles from a nuclear explosion may be carried aloft by wind
currents for hundreds
of miles if the right conditions exist. Effects from even a small
device exploded at ground level can be potentially deadly.
Nuclear radiation cannot be seen, smelled, or otherwise detected by
senses. Radiation can be detected only by radiation-monitoring devices.
makes radiological emergencies different from other types of
as floods or hurricanes. Monitoring can project the fallout arrival
which will be announced through official warning channels. However, any
increase in surface buildup of gritty dust and dirt should be a warning
Factors for Protection From
three factors for protecting oneself from radioactive fallout are distance,
more distance between
you and the fallout particles, the better. An underground area, such as
or office building basement, offers more protection than the first
floor of a building. A floor near the middle of a high-rise may be
depending on what is nearby at that level on which significant fallout
particles would collect. Flat roofs collect fallout particles, so the
is not a good choice, nor is a floor adjacent to a neighboring flat
heavier and denser the
shielding materials—thick walls, concrete, bricks, books, and
and the fallout particles, the better.
radiation loses its
intensity fairly rapidly. In time, you will be able to leave the
shelter. Radioactive fallout poses the greatest threat to people during
first two weeks, after which time it has declined to only about one
its initial radiation level.
any protection, however temporary, is better than none at all; and the
distance, and time you can take advantage of, the better.
What to Do to Be Prepared for a
Supplies Kit so
it is adequate for up to two weeks.
out from officials if
any public buildings in your community have been designated as fallout
shelters. If none have been designated, make your own list of potential
shelters near your home, workplace, and school. These places would
basements or the windowless center area of middle floors in high-rise
and tunnels may be
designated as fallout shelters, but should not be entered as long as
immediate danger of nuclear attack because a blast over the area can
them to a wind tunnel conveying a fatal shock wave.
you live in an apartment
building or high-rise, talk to the manager about the safest place in
building for sheltering and about providing for building occupants
until it is safe
to go out.
shelter before a nuclear explosion is absolutely necessary.
There are two kinds of shelters—blast and
constructed to offer some protection against blast pressure, initial
heat, and fire; but even a blast shelter could not withstand a direct
a nuclear explosion.
not need to be
specially constructed for protecting against fallout. They can be any
space, provided that the walls and roof are thick and dense enough to
the radiation given off by fallout particles.
In Case of Warning
hear a nuclear attack warning, you should:
cover as quickly as you
can, below ground if possible, and stay there unless instructed to do
for official information and follow instructions.
If you are
caught outside and unable to get inside before the explosion occurs,
look at the flash or
fireball—it can blind you.
cover behind anything
that might offer protection.
flat on the ground and
cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take
seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.
shelter, as soon as you
can, even if you are many miles from ground zero where the attack
occurred—radioactive fallout can be carried by the winds for
hundreds of miles.
Remember the three protective factors: distance, shielding, and time.
After a Nuclear Attack
rates of the radioactive fallout are the same for any
size nuclear device. However, the amount of fallout will vary based on
of the device and its proximity to the ground. Therefore, it might be
for those in the areas with highest radiation levels to shelter for up
The heaviest fallout would be
to the area at or downwind from the explosion, and 80 percent of the
would occur during the first 24 hours.
in most of the areas that would
be affected could be allowed to come out of shelter within a few days
necessary, evacuate to unaffected areas.
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
addition to other effects, a nuclear weapon detonated in or above
the earth’s atmosphere can create an electromagnetic pulse
high-density electrical field. An EMP acts like a stroke of lightning
stronger, faster, and briefer. An EMP can seriously damage electronic
to power sources or antennas, including communications systems,
appliances, and automobile or aircraft ignition systems. The damage
from a minor interruption to actual burnout of components. Most
equipment within 1,000 miles of a high-altitude nuclear detonation
affected. Battery-powered radios with short antennas generally would
affected. Although an EMP is unlikely to harm most people, it could
with pacemakers or other implanted electronic devices.
What measures can I take to
protect electric and electronic appliances from the effects of EMP?
protective measures apply the same basic principles as
lightning arrestors (you may find them where telephone lines enter your
and surge protectors for computers and other electronic equipment. Any
cable with a series of receptacles that is not in use should be
both ends. If a cable is in use, ground one end only. Electrical and
conduits (such as cable television leads) are conductors and should
grounded. Metal shielding will provide some protection but would be
only for small, unplugged appliances. Metal shielding should cover but
touch the item it protects, to prevent coupling to the protected item.
Grounding supplies are readily available at electrical and hardware
Lightning arrestors and surge protectors are also available at some
stores. For EMP protection, look for the strongest protection against
rapidly peaking surge. Ideally that would be nanoseconds, which you are
unlikely to find, or the smallest number if given in milliseconds.
If there is
warning of an imminent nuclear attack, quickly do the following:
off your main power
all cables, extension
cords, electrical appliances, and telephones.
units of sound and video systems.
computers from the
printer, monitor, keyboard, and other peripherals.
wireless phones from
up and/or disconnect all
Each of these
measures helps a little,
and helps more at the outer range of the EMP’s reach, but
could be inadequate
against the EMP of a high-altitude nuclear explosion, depending on the
the electrical field produced by the detonation of the nuclear device.
of the similar characteristics of lightning and EMP, the devices used
for EMP protection
will also provide a high degree of lightning protection, but the
not necessarily true.
Returning to Your Home
of the specific kinds of terrorist attacks described in the
foregoing pages could make it necessary for you to evacuate your home.
return, you should:
listening to the radio or television for news about what to do, where
and places to avoid.
away from damaged areas. Stay away from areas marked
“radiation hazard” or “HAZMAT.”
Remember that radiation cannot be seen, smelled, or otherwise detected
general information on returning home, see “Evacuation,
agroterrorism and what can I do to protect myself and my family?
involves the act of any person knowingly or maliciously
using biological or other agents as weapons against the agricultural
and the food supply—plants and especially animals. Outbreaks
caused by the
deliberate spread of animal diseases by terrorists are likely to have
higher costs than natural occurrences or epidemics.
Agroterrorism does not require a high level of technical knowledge. It
relatively easy to acquire and spread the agents causing plant and
diseases. In addition, the most likely agents, such as anthrax, hoof
disease, or fungi-causing plant diseases—rusts, blast, and
risk to the potential terrorist. The low level of knowledge required
and the low
risk make agroterrorism an attractive option for terrorists. The
responsibility for prevention and public education rests on government
and research organizations that have the technical and scientific role
capability to identify plant and animal diseases, isolate and eliminate
cases, and direct countermeasures to control outbreaks when they occur.
education and extension services inform farmers and livestock operators
of the threats
and work with farmers, veterinarians, and crop consultants to prevent
control plant and animal diseases.
concerned with agroterrorism should take steps to be
informed. The consuming public should also be informed of the nature of
agroterrorism and the forms it may take. Concerned individuals may also
be involved at the local level to be sure that people involved with
disaster plans are aware of the process for dealing with outbreaks that
threaten production of a healthy food supply and the local agricultural
economy. It is also important to be informed about what the threats
measures are taken to combat and control outbreaks of any kind, and
and food sources are unaffected and still safe. Keep informed of how
are managed and how the response and recovery proceed so you can have
confidence in the food production system and the effectiveness of steps
with problems whenever they arise.
instructions of officials when an outbreak occurs.
It is especially important to cooperate fully with quarantine orders
instructions about what to avoid, and not to find ways to avoid the
inconvenience of efforts to quickly eliminate threats to a safe food
What is a
cyber (computer-based) attack and what can I do to protect myself and
technology, through the use of computers, has changed the
way we transact business, run the government, conduct national defense,
order, and communicate with our friends and families. All of these
activities—both critical and mundane—are
accomplished through an interdependent
electronic and communications network. If the security of this network
compromised, services could be interrupted, including essential
in areas such as telecommunications, energy, finance, manufacturing,
health care, and emergency response. Cyber attacks targeted against
technology can occur in the following ways:
attack against the
software of an information system by an unauthorized person who
enters the system from the outside.
the software and/or hardware of an information system by a person on
who is trusted with access to the system.
yourself from some of the effects of a cyber attack, you should:
prepared to do without
services you normally depend on that could be disrupted—
telephones, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and
See chapters on “Disaster
Supplies Kit” and
handy a battery-powered
radio or television and routinely listen to local broadcasts.
Be prepared to respond to official instructions if a cyber attack
other hazards, for example, a hazardous materials release, nuclear
incident, or dam or flood control system failure. You may need to
area, go to a public shelter, or shelter-in-place.