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By TrBrian Jenkins
Gallop polls from 2007 show that 30% of Americans are somewhat afraid of being harmed in a terrorist attack and 10% are very afraid. These statistics show that many in the United States are afraid of the very real threat of terrorist attack. Though one might feel helpless in a situation such as this, preparation can be the best way to abandon fear and deal with the situation practically.
Gathering supplies and knowing basic survival skills can prepare families for an attack on U.S. soil from a dirty bomb or other weapon. Making plans not only gives piece of mind, but also can increase the chances of surviving such an attack.
What is a Dirty Bomb?
The term dirty bomb can refer to any explosive device that is meant to spread harmful materials in addition to creating a destructive explosion. Usually, the term is meant to refer to a radiological dispersal device. This means that the bomb spreads radioactive material meant to harm those in the area not affected by the explosion with radiation poisoning. It is not an atomic bomb.
Though this may sound very frightening, most studies show that these bombs are unlikely to be fatal to those who are contaminated. Even those who are exposed to the levels of radiation spread by the bomb for more than a year without treatment would not be killed by the dose. For this reason, dirty bombs are not a “weapon of mass destruction.” Although, they may have a significant mental effect on the general population, because in the event of a detonation, it is likely that many thousands of people would have to be detained.
What are Unconventional Weapons?
By definition, unconventional weapons are any weapons that are not used in regular warfare. Officials in the United States government have some guesses on the types of unconventional weapons terrorists may use to attack the American public.
The most common of these are all too familiar to those who have been watching reports from Iraq. An IED or “improvised explosive device” is an explosive filled with all manner of scrap metal that acts as shrapnel.
Those weapons used to spread of promote bioterrorism by infecting large groups of the population with disease are another example of weapons that are not used by national militaries.
The notion of dealing with these types of attacks is pretty daunting. Though it might be frightening, the first step is to think seriously and rationally about what to do in these situations. There is no need to overreact about the possibility of an attack. In fact, more fatalities occur each day from car accidents and medical malpractice than are attributed each year to terrorism. In a year, more die from animal attack and falling down stairs. Careful planning can even further diminish the chances of being hurt.
Preparing for Radiation Exposure
There are very few ways to counteract radiation. A dirty bomb will most likely spread radioactive dust, so those who were outside at the time of the explosion should shower thoroughly and seal their clothes in a bag. Stay inside and secure pets. Await further instructions before going back outside or traveling. There will most likely be an official containment and decontamination procedure.
The rules for preparing for an attack are similar to those for storms or other emergency situations. There should be plenty of non-perishable food items and water on hand in case it is not safe to travel for a few days. In case some catastrophic event knocks out power, keep plenty of batteries, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and candles in the preparedness kit. Make sure to also include a hand-operated can opener on the supplies. Other useful items include changes of clothes, a first aid kit, paper towels, and toilet tissue.
The most important part of the emergency plan is sharing it with family and friends. Most schools have their own emergency plans parents can go over with their children. All family members should meet at the family home and agree upon a secondary meeting location. Craft a plan so that family members can find one another without the use of phones or other communication. The phone lines will be needed by those trying to contact emergency services, so it is best try to avoid making calls.
After the attack, tune into the news on the television or radio and await instruction. There are emergency radio frequencies that the government will use in the case of emergency.
The best thing to do while planning for a disaster or when faced with one is to remain calm and think rationally. Check lists can be used to double-check supplies and keep one occupied.
About the Author: Brian Jenkins is a freelance writer who writes about topics concerning emergency planning, safety preparedness and demonstrations for emergency response such as a Safety Training Video