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Terrorism Emergency Preparedness

What To Do During A Chemical Terrorist Attack

These are the things you should do once you become aware that you need to protect yourself from a toxic gas chemical attack:

  • If you're in a building and the attack occurs inside the building then head for the nearest exit.
  • If you're in a building and the attack occurs outdoors, don't attempt to exit - just follow the rules below.
  • If you’re outside and the attack is outside, immediately enter a house or building and follow the rules below.
  • If there's no safe building nearby, try to determine the direction of the wind and move cross-wind. If you move down-wind you risk remaining exposed to the gas for a longer time. If you move up-wind you risk entering a more dense cloud of the gas. By moving cross-wind you have the greatest chance of getting out of the cloud quickly because the gas will move with the wind along a relatively narrow line.
  • If you’re in your car stay inside and attempt to drive away from the cloud (again cross-wind if possible). Finally, avoid moving to low areas as the gas may become trapped there.
  • If you're indoors, move to a room that’s as far away from the source of the gas emission as possible. Upstairs is better than downstairs because these gases tend to be heavier than air so they remain close to the ground.
  • Shut and lock all doors and windows. Turn off air-conditioners, heaters, ventilation systems, all electrical appliances, and close all water and gas taps. Seal ventilators with tape, and preferably do the same around the doors and windows. If possible, place damp towels at the bottom of doors.
  • Tune in to a local radio station that is broadcasting official emergency information.
  • Cooperate with official instructions and stay put until you’re given the all clear by an official authority (don't rely solely on media reports, unless they are delivered by appropriate authorities). Be prepared to evacuate if given the official order to do so.

The points above apply mainly to the event of a gas attack or an attack involving the rapid spread of a non-contagious biological agent like anthrax. In most circumstances, as we've already seen, the consequences of a biological attack will only begin to show up days or weeks after the attack itself.