Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists typically plan their attacks in a way that generates the greatest publicity for their causes and creates massive fear among the public or try to convince citizens there government is powerless to prevent violence.
Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; kidnappings; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber-attacks (computer-based); and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons. Terrorism is a crime planned well in advance by those responsible.
As we’ve learned from previous events, the following things can happen after a terrorist attack:
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.
You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding roads blocked for your safety. Clean-up may take many months.
Generally, you can prepare for a terrorist incident in much the same way as you would other emergencies and disasters:
- Listen to instructions provided by police, fire and other officials.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Move or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.
- If you see something suspicious, report it to police at once by dialing 911.
- Be aware of persons expressing excessive interest (especially in staffing patterns, security, emergency procedures) in critical infrastructure, public places, government buildings and places of gathering.
- Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended. You should promptly report unusual behavior, suspicious or unattended packages, and strange devices to the police or security personnel.
- Learn where emergency exits are located in buildings you frequent. Plan how to get out in the event of an emergency.
- Be prepared to do without services you normally depend on: electricity, telephone, natural gas, gasoline pumps, cash registers, ATMs, and Internet transactions.
- Get an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions for you and your family to live on for a minimum of three days.
- Make an emergency plan for you and your family.
Biological terrorism is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can cause illness or death:
Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or be eaten to make you sick.
Some biological agents, such as anthrax, are not contagious. Others, like the smallpox virus, are diseases that are spread from one person to another.
Chemical terrorism is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment:
Chemical agents can be released deliberately by bombs; sprayed from aircraft, boats or vehicles; or used as a liquid.
Nuclear terrorism could include an attack on a nuclear power plant, the use of a small nuclear weapon, deliberate release of radioactive materials (radiological dispersal devices) or a “dirty bomb” explosive (an explosive that scatters radioactive material over a targeted area).
Follow the directions of local officials in the event terrorism should occur. You can be most prepared by having a plan, a kit and being involved!