This document is intended to provide general information to assist in efforts to recognize potential WMD-related threats or incidents. The information is not all encompassing, and its applicability should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with local conditions, policies and procedures.
Chemical, biological and radiological material can be dispersed in the air we breath, the water we drink or on using conventional (garden)/commercial spray devices or detonating an improvised explosive device to disseminate chemical, biological or radiological material.
Chemical incidents are characterized by the rapid onset of medical symptoms (minutes to hours) and easily observed or radiological incident, the onset of symptoms requires days to weeks and there are typically few characteristic signatures.
In all cases, being alert to the following could assist law enforcement and emergency responders in evaluating potential threats.
Potential Indicators of WMD Threats or Incidents
• Unusual packages or containers, especially those found in unlikely or sensitive locations, such as near HVAC or air intake systems.
• Unusual powders or liquids/droplets/mists/clouds, especially those found near air intake/HVAC systems.
• Indications of tampering in targeted areas/equipment (i.e., locked ventilation/HVAC systems, stocks of food, water supply).
• Suspicious person(s) or activities, especially those involving sensitive locations within or around a building (well houses, water towers, telephone central offices, reservoirs, pump houses, etc.).
• Surveillance of targeted areas, including but not limited to hotels, entertainment venues, subway systems, aircraft, water sources, office buildings and apartment buildings.
• Theft of chemical products/equipment (i.e. pool chemicals, fertilizers, etc.).
• Dead animals/birds, fish or insects.
• Unexplained/unusual odors. Smells may range from fruity/flowery to sharp/pungent, garlic or horseradish like, bitter almonds, peach kernels, and new mown grass/hay (where no grass has been cut nearby).
• Unusual/unscheduled spraying or discovery of spray devices or bottles.
• Maintain a heightened sense of awareness.
• Place an increased emphasis on the security of immediate surroundings.
• Conduct periodic inspections of building facilities and HVAC systems for potential indicators or irregularities.
• Review emergency operations and evacuation plans/procedures for all locations/organizations to ensure that plans are up to date.
• Promptly report suspicious activities to appropriate law enforcement authorities.
Emergency Procedures - Potential Threat Identified/Confirmed
• Maintain a safe distance/evacuate area (if outside move to an upwind location and if inside keep outside doors/windows closed).
• Call your local 911 (law enforcement and public safety personnel) after reaching a safe area.
• Do no handle or disturb suspicious objects.
• Remove possibly contaminated external clothing (including hats, shoes, gloves).
• Follow emergency operations plans/instructions from emergency response personnel.
With some disasters, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards, you will likely have some warning. Other disasters, as on September 11, 2001, happen without a moment's notice. To avoid the helplessness that can accompany such an event, a little prepardness can go a long way.
A basic home emergency kit can make a major difference in minimizing the damage after (or during) a disaster . . .
One of the best resources you can have in your home is a packpack or similar container. These make excellent disaster kits. Your basic kit should include some food, like a jar of peanut butter and some crackers. Select food items that require no refrigeration in containers that can be resealed if you don't use all of it at one time. Ready-to-eat canned vegetables, fruits, and juices in small, single-serving cans are some examples (be sure you have a can opener). Include plastic utensils, paper plates and cups. Bottled water is a good idea (3 gallons per person is recommended).
Include a basic first aid kit with bandages, band-aids, antiseptic, thermometer, tweezers, scissors, eye cup and surgical gloves. A good sturdy blanket like an army blanket can protect against debris and keep you warm . . . thermal underwear is a good idea as well.
Other items to include:
• Flashlight & Batteries
• Battery-Operated Radio (with spare batteries)
• Work Gloves
• Manual Can-Opener
• Wrench & Pliers (in case you have to turn off water or gas)
• Comfort items (toothbrush & paste, razor, deodorant, tampons, kleenex, toilet paper, plastic garbage bags (for personal sanitation use as well as trash), paper towels, disinfectant, antibacterial hand soap, note pad, pencil & paper, medications (prescription as well as over-the counter like aspirin etc.)
bullet Some Cash (ATM' won't help if power is out).
Don't forget supplies for any pets.
Maintain your disaster kit. For example, when daylight savings time changes (twice a year), change your bottled water, medications and batteries.
Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Devise a plan so that if you aren't together when a disaster occurs, you can meet at a pre-established location if you have to leave your home. Make up smaller kit for the trunk of your car. Speaking of your car, make sure you always have a full tank of gas.
Remember, a little preparation goes a long way. It may just be the difference in surviving a disaster.