Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, damaged the Pentagon and killed about 3,000 people, Bioterrorism Awareness Month has been educating the public about the potential of a bioterror attack and what the average person can do to recognize an attack and reasonably prepare for a bioterror attack or other disaster.
Here are suggestions for simple things that you can do to increase your awareness and preparation in the event of a bioterror attack or other disaster.
What should I do if I receive a suspicious letter or package?
- Do not shake or empty contents of any suspicious envelope or package; DO NOT try to clean up powders or fluids.
- Place the envelope or package in a plastic bag or some other type of container to prevent leakage of contents.
- If you do not have a container, then cover the envelope or package with anything (e.g. clothing, paper, trash can, etc.) available and do not remove this cover.
- Leave the room and close the door, or section off the area to prevent others from entering.
- Wash your hands with soap and water to prevent spreading any powder to your face or skin.
- If you are at home, then report the incident to local police. If you are at work, report the incident to local police and notify your building security official or an available supervisor.
- If possible, list all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized. Give this list to both the local police and local public health authorities for follow up investigation and advice.
- Remove heavily contaminated clothing and place in a plastic bag that can be sealed. Give the bag to law enforcement personnel.
- Shower with soap and water as soon as possible. Do not use bleach or disinfectant on your skin.
What precautions should I take regarding the threat of bioterrorism?
The federal government is not recommending any specific bioterrorism-related precautions. However, in the event of a natural (for example, tornado, flood or earthquake) or man-made disaster, lives can be saved if people are prepared for the emergency. Every family should have the following emergency supplies on hand:
- A battery-powered radio and a flashlight, with extra batteries to each
- Bottled drinking water – one gallon per day per person, with a three – to seven-day supply recommended
- Canned or sealed package foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking, and a can opener
- A blanket or sleeping bag for each family member
- First-aid kit, including any special prescription medications, such as insulin or heart tablets
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- Extra set of car keys, and a credit card, cash or traveler’s checks
- Special items for infant (disposable diapers), elderly or disabled family members
- Extra eye glasses, and contact lenses and supplies
Come by the Library to check out our display of materials relating to the threat of terrorist attack and the legislative and legal responses to terrorist attacks in the United States and the world. Also pick up a handy Emergency Preparedness Checklist prepared by the American Red Cross.