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Be on the alert: Terrorism precautions

February 14, 2003
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With the nation on a high state of alert, it's a good time to review basic terrorism precautions with your employees:

1) Terrorists look for visible targets where they can avoid detection before or after an attack such as international airports, large cities, major international events, resorts and high-profile landmarks.

2) Learn about the different types of terrorist weapons including explosives, kidnappings, hijackings, arson and shootings.

3) Prepare to deal with a terrorist incident by adapting many of the same techniques used to prepare for other crises.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) Notice your immediate surroundings. Be aware of heavy or breakable objects that could move, fall or break in an explosion.

7) 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.

8) Learn first aid. Contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross for additional information.

9) 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.

10) If you receive a bomb threat, 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.

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

12) In a building explosion, get out of the building as quickly and calmly as possible.

13) 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.

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

15) Chemical agents are poisonous gases, liquids or solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. Most chemical agents cause serious injuries or death.

16) Severity of injuries depends on the type and amount of the chemical agent used, and the duration of exposure.

17) Biological agents are organisms or toxins that have illness-producing effects on people, livestock and crops.

18) A person affected by a biological agent requires the immediate attention of professional medical personnel. Some agents are contagious, and victims may need to be quarantined. Also, some medical facilities may not receive victims for fear of contaminating the hospital population.

19) More information on bioterrorism preparedness and response is available online from the Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control.

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