Preparing for a Terrorist Attack or other emergency is all about planning. Having a plan in place will greatly improve your odds of survival, lower your stress levels during an emergency, and potentially save lives.
Acts of terror, such as the attacks in November, 2015 that killed 40 in Beirut and the Paris attacks that killed over a hundred just a day later have left many folks concerned about the possibility of future attacks in the United States and around the world. It is the very nature of these attacks to strike fear and raise uncertainty about the future. There are, however, steps that you can take to better prepare yourself and your family for dealing with the unexpected and that will allow you to exert some level of control during, and immediately after such attacks.
Step 1: Create an Emergency Communications Plan
One of the most distressing aspects of an act of terror is not knowing the status of your loved ones. Choose someone who lives far enough away from you so that they would not likely be caught up in the same emergency as a point of contact for your family. This person, or family, needs to know that they have been chosen as your point of contact. Distribute the contacts phone number, email address, and physical address to each person in your household. If you are putting together a bolt bag as outlined below, be sure to keep a card (preferably laminated) inside the bolt bag with this information. Leave this contact information at your children’s schools and your place of employment as alternate contacts. Often times phone service can be so congested during an emergency as to make phones unusable for a period of time, so be sure to include email. Of course, everyone should contact this person as soon as possible after an emergency or the system breaks down.
Step 2: Establish a Meeting Place
You should establish at least one meeting place where the members of your household can easily get to in case your home is directly affected by the event. You might consider establishing more than one, each successively further away than the last. The addresses and telephone numbers of these places should also be included in your bolt bags. Just as with the chosen contact person, if you select a family member or friends home as a meeting place, then that person needs to be aware of your choice, and agree. When making arrangements be sure to account for pets, since pets are typically not permitted in red-cross shelters and many hotels do not allow them. You can read more about establishing these rally points here.
Step 3: Assemble an emergency preparedness kit
During an emergency, you may be asked to “shelter in place” (This happened during the Boston Marathon Bombing of 2013), or it may simply be too dangerous to leave the relative safety of your home. You should have a minimum of three days of food and water on hand. At a minimum, keep one gallon of water per person, per day.
On the other hand, it may not be feasible to shelter in place. If your home is affected by the event you may have to evacuate quickly. You should prepare a ‘bolt bag’ for just such an occasion. A bolt bag is a bag that has essential supplies to get you to your established meeting place. You can read more about preparing a bolt-bag here.
Every member of your household who is old enough to carry the weight of one should have a bolt bag.
Some additional items to consider for your bolt-bag:
- spare documents: ID, passports, CCW permits, etc.
- Emergency Medicines
If a member of your household has any emergency medical needs such as diabetes, severe allergies, heart conditions, etc. Then talk to your doctor about what you can safely store in your bolt bag and keep enough with you to last at least three days.
- A small amount of cash. $50-$100
- A spare change of clothes
- If you have a dog, consider keeping a leash and harness (or spare collar)
Just remember to keep the bag small. You want a bag that you can easily grab and carry with you to get to your established meeting place. Consider that you may have to walk to your rally point.
Step 4: Keep Everyone’s Employer or School Up to Date
Most employers and certainly all schools have their own emergency plans. You should keep these organizations up to date with regards to your contact information and arrange for alternate, pre-approved personnel to arrange for pickup. Keep a list of everyone in your households school or employer contact information with the other documentation stored in your bolt bags. Everyone should have everyone’s information in their bag.
If disaster strikes, be sure to remain calm and keep your wits about you. As always, this is crucial to any survival scenario. Follow the advice of local emergency officials and listen to your local radio or television for news and instructions. Another useful preparation includes learning some basic first aid. To enroll in a First Aid and AED/CPR course, contact the Training Support Center at 1-800-RED-CROSS or firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the process. In an emergency situation, you need to tend to your own well-being first and then consider first aid for others immediately around you.