Individual emergency preparedness

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Individual emergency preparedness encompasses steps that individuals, households, and neighborhoods can take in response to terrorism, natural disasters or industrial accidents, especially when emergency medical services, police, and fire services are overwhelmed.[1] Various preparations can be useful whether the threat is natural, accidental or deliberate. They broadly fall into evacuation, shelter-in-place, and active mitigation.

While many people think first of terrorist threats, preparedness for:

  • Biological warfare also is useful preparation for epidemics; there was little preparation for the 1918-1920 pandemic but extensive precautions for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus event
  • Chemical warfare precautions can be useful in situations ranging from major industrial accidents to local HAZMAT spills
  • Radiological warfare helps in the event of nuclear reactor accidents or local contamination
  • Explosions, nuclear or non-nuclear, both in a threat and a completed event, cover things ranging from overturned trucks carrying explosives[2] to volcanic eruptions

The U.S. White House]] urged citizens to prepare for possible disasters, and be ready with extra food and essentials. "Individuals and Families ... keeping supplies of food and other materials at home—as recommended by authorities—to support essential needs of the household for several days if necessary..."[3] In practice, this means a relatively long food and water supply for shelter-in-place and a smaller, but portable, supply for evacuation.

Evacuation

Shelter-in-place

Active mitigation

While many mitigation measures take specialized equipment and training, there are others that can be carried out with forethought and small investments

from User: Thomas Wright Sulcer

One way authorities can try to control damage is by instructing citizens how to cope with large-scale terrorist attacks such as chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological events. For example, a study by the Rand Corporation offers advice to citizens about individual efforts to cope with one of these emergencies.[4]

    • chemical attack: In a chemical attack, citizens are urged to "find clean air quickly."[5]
    • radiological attack: If a dirty bomb has been detonated, avoid inhaling radioactive dust; if outdoors, move indoors, cover your nose and mouth and stay indoors; close windows and shut down ventilation systems and await instructions.[6]
    • nuclear attack"Avoid radioactive fallout: evacuate the fallout zone quickly or, if not possible, seek best available shelter."ref>RAND MR-1731, p. xviii</ref>
    • biological attack "Get medical aid and minimize further exposure to agents."[7]
      • if it's smallpox, and if there's any suspicion of contagion, get vaccinated quickly.[8][9] The White House urged the public to be prepared for large-scale disasters. The U.S. White House has promulgated efforts to "promote global health security", so that if a smallpox epidemic breaks out, then global health agencies may be better prepared to cope with it.[10]

References

  1. Spencer S. Hsu and William Branigin. New Security Strategy Emphasizes Disaster Preparedness, Washington Post, October 10, 2007. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. “The White House yesterday updated the nation's homeland security strategy ... acknowledging the need to prepare for catastrophic natural disasters as well as the "persistent and evolving" threat of terrorism.”
  2. Kenneth L. Jon (1 August 1999), "Recipe for disaster", Fire Chief
  3. "National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats", White House, 2009-11. Retrieved on 2010-01-12.
  4. Lynn E. Davis, Tom LaTourrette, David E. Mosher, Lois M. Davis, David R. Howell. Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks, RAND Corporation, 2010-01-12, pp. 198. MR1731. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. , p. 7
  5. RAND MR-1731, p. xv
  6. RAND MR-1731, p. xvii
  7. RAND MR-1731, p. xvii
  8. Lynn E. Davis, Tom LaTourrette, David E. Mosher, Lois M. Davis, David R. Howell. Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks, 'Rand Corporation', 2010-01-12, pp. 198. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. “In the case of smallpox, ... individuals “in contact” with those persons receive a smallpox vaccination as quickly as possible.”
  9. Lynn E. Davis, Tom LaTourrette, David E. Mosher, Lois M. Davis, David R. Howell. Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks, 'Rand Corporation', 2010-01-12, pp. 198. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. “Chemical Attack: Find clean air quickly. Radiological Attack: Avoid inhaling dust that could be radio­active. Nuclear Attack: Avoid radioactive fallout—evacuate the fallout zone quickly or, if not possible, seek best available shelter. Biological Attack: Get medical aid and minimize further expo­sure to agents.”
  10. "National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats", White House, 2009-11. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. “Promote global health security...”