Are You Prepared for a Chemical Attack?

by Paul Davis

If there were a chemical attack or industrial accident in your area, would you be prepared to remain indoors until the threat was over? Both your home and your office should have a designated area with adequate supplies in case such an event happened. Here's information on how to create a Shelter-In-Place plan so you'll be prepared.

Paul Davis
On Crime & Security

Better Plan to have a Shelter-In-Place Plan

Last month a fire in a hardware store in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania prompted emergency responders to issue a Shelter-In-Place order to all residents within a four-mile radius.

The Shelter-In-Place order, which meant that one had to remain indoors until one was given the all clear signal, was issued because there were hazardous materials burning in the fire and the fumes coming off the fire may have had deadly effects. Fortunately, this was not the case and the Shelter-In-Place order was rescinded.

If your local police and fire department ordered you and your neighbors to Shelter-In-Place, would you know what to do? Would you be prepared? Would you survive?

Although many large businesses, government offices and schools are routinely performing Shelter-In-Place drills, many small businesses and home businesses have not prepared for the possibility of a terrorist chemical attack or an industrial accident that could cause you to die if you leave the safety and confines of your home or business.

A Shelter-In-Place plan is simply the opposite of a fire evacuation plan. Rather than rushing out of a building due to a fire or a threat of a bomb, a Shelter-In-Place plan calls for you, your family, your customers and/or coworkers to retreat to a designated room within your building. Simple, life-saving solutions are available to everyone

I recall that comedians had a field day when the Department of Homeland Security suggested you purchase duct tape and plastic sheeting during the post-9/11-Anthrax scare period. I laughed at some of the jokes myself, but my Navy experience and Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) training gave me a clear picture of the threat. The Navy also taught me the benefit of being prepared through training.



In the event of an emergency, you may be instructed to Shelter-In-Place because of a terrorist attack involving a dirty bomb, which explodes and then disperses radioactive material into the air. But there are a number of industrial accidents that could cause you to Shelter-In-Place as well, such as a chemical-carrying truck that has overturned on the highway, or an explosion at a nuclear or chemical plant. Lastly, there are natural disasters that may cause one to Shelter-In-Place as well, such as a hurricane or a tornado.

To prepare for a Shelter-In-Place incident, simply designate a room, preferable above ground level, in your business or home that has no windows or few windows. You should have the emergency supplies stored there. Turn off the heat or air conditioning system then take the duct tape and plastic sheeting and cover all of the windows, doors, vents and cracks with the sheeting and seal it with the duct tape. This, despite the comic's jokes, will ensure that you live while others may die. The sealing of the Shelter-In-Place room may give you two to three hours of safety from deadly toxic chemicals. A chemical attack can be deadly, but such attacks are short term, as the shifting winds disperse the chemicals in the air.

As part of your emergency supplies, you should have a portable radio with batteries so you can listen to emergency responders. You should have a supply of water, nonperishable food, a first aid kit and a small tool kit. You should also have a flashlight with batteries.

Remain in your room and stay tuned to the radio until you hear that the first responders - be they the fire department or the National Guard - have given the all clear signal. The all clear may be issued after the wind has blown away and dispersed the deadly chemicals in the air.

We know from captured terrorist video and computer discs and e-mail traffic that our enemy is actively pursuing the means for a chemical attack. Thankfully, our law enforcement, intelligence and military people have been able to thwart all of their plots aimed at targets on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Hopefully, you'll never need to activate your Shelter-In-Place plan, but it's good to know that you will be prepared if you need to seek life-saving shelter in your home or office.

About the author: 
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime & security for newspapers, magazines and the Internet. He can be reached at pauldavisoncrime@aol.com

Paul Davis on Crime & Security

 
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