LDS Emergency Preparedness

Be Prepared, Not Scared!

Domestic Terrorism

Posted by Elise on November 17, 2009

Never Forget


Images of airliners used as missiles in terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as well as bombing attacks on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta are hard to forget.  These terrorist events caused thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars in property losses. They have also inflicted a huge emotional toll within the impacted communities as well as throughout the world.  The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” A significant terrorism threat we face today is that of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and these consist of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) weapons.

Although bombing has been the most popular method used in terrorist incidents in the United States, terrorism can occur in several forms. In recent years, terrorists throughout the world have used arson, hostile takeovers and shootings to attain their political and social goals.

In the future, terrorists could use chemical or biological agents. Because the impact of exposure to some organisms, toxins and other biological agents may not cause an immediate illness or reaction, it may take some time for government officials to determine that such an attack has occurred.

In the event of an attack, government officials will instruct residents on what actions they are taking and what actions the public should take. It’s important that you remain calm, cooperate fully with local officials and do not try to be a hero.  Failure to follow instructions from local officials could cost you and others their lives. In the event of a chemical or biological attack, instructions will be provided by local public health and safety officials on personal protection, decontamination and health warnings via the Emergency Alert System (EAS) broadcast over radio and television as well as print media.


As we have seen, domestic and international terrorists can strike at any time. To combat the threat, emergency services officials representing all levels of government are working together to develop and implement effective strategies for deterring, preventing and responding to incidents.  To assist individuals in preparing for emergencies, the Unified San Diego County Emergency Services Organization, the County Office of Disaster Preparedness, State of California, American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have provided information on what to do during emergencies.  The San Diego Operational Area Emergency Plan specifically addresses response to terrorist attacks. In addition, federal, state and local law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical officials meet on a regular basis to plan and evaluate preparedness activities throughout the county.  The public also has a role in reducing the impact of terrorism on their lives.

Before an Attack

Prepare for the possibility of a terrorist incident in your area:

Learn about the nature of terrorism.

  • Terrorists look for visible targets where they can avoid detection before or after an attack such as international airports, large cities, major international events, resorts and high-profile landmarks.
  • Report any suspicious activities to the San Diego FBI office at (858) 565 -1255.

Adapt, as appropriate, the same techniques used to prepare for earthquakes, fires and other emergencies.

  • Be prepared and observe your environment. Terrorists most often strike with little or no warning.
  • Use caution when you travel. Observe and report unusual activity. Keep your packages with you at all times. Do not accept packages from strangers.
  • Locate stairways and emergency exits and develop plans for evacuating buildings, subways and crowded public areas.

If you live or work in multi-level buildings:

  • Identify the location of fire exits and review emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Locate and maintain fire extinguishers in working order. Train responsible
  • personnel how to use them.
  • Obtain training in first aid and CPR.

Assemble and maintain an emergency supply kit for each floor that includes those items listed on the back of this brochure. Also compile essential emergency preparedness items in back packs for emergency response team members.

During an Attack

If there’s an explosion:

  • Remain calm. Take cover under a desk or sturdy table if ceiling tiles, bookshelves, their contents, etc. begin to fall.
  • Exit the building as quickly as possible.

If there’s a fire:

  • Stay low to the floor at all times and exit the building as quickly as possible. Heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect near the ceiling first.
  • Use a wet cloth to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Use the back of your hand to feel closed doors. If the door is not hot, brace yourself against the door and open it slowly. Do not open the door if it is hot.  Seek another escape route.
  • Use appropriate fire exits, not elevators.

After an Attack

If you are trapped in debris:

  • If possible, use a flashlight or whistle to signal rescuers regarding your location.
  • Stay in your area so that you don’t kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are.
  • Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort—shouting can cause a person to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Protective Actions

Protective actions are actions we take to safeguard our family members and ourselves from harm. The most common emergency protective actions are evacuation and shelter-in- place.

  • Evacuation means to leave the area of actual or potential hazard.
  • Shelter-in-place means to stay indoors.  This includes additional precautions such as turning off air-conditioning, ventilation systems and closing all windows and doors.

 What Should You Do?

  • Remain calm.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Have a Family Preparedness Plan.
  • Stay informed.
  • If an evacuation is ordered, follow the instructions of local officials regarding evacuation routes and the location of shelters.
  • If shelter-in-place is recommended, local officials will provide instructions on necessary actions.
  • Do not leave your sheltered location or return to the evacuated area until it is deemed safe to do by local officials.

Listed below are a few websites that provide emergency preparedness information. (Federal Emergency Management Agency) (California Office of Emergency Services) cnty/cntydepts/safety/disaster (S.D. County Office of Disaster Preparedness)


Maintaining an emergency supply kit is a good idea for any emergency. Individuals and organizations should be prepared to be without assistance for a minimum of 72 hours.

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlights, batteries
  • Whistle
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Hard hats
  • Duct tape
  • Fluorescent tape to rope off dangerous areas
  • Water
  • Food (canned, no-cook, packaged snacks)
  • Manual can opener
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Fire extinguisher (A-B-C) type
  • Infant and feminine hygiene supplies
  • Essential medicines and eyeglasses
  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of doctors and pharmacist
  • Food and water for pets
  • Large plastic bags for trash, waste, water protection
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Charcoal grill or camp stove for outdoor cooking
  • Don’t forget that the front of the White Pages of your Pacific Bell telephone directory contains a handy First Aid and Survival Guide (Section B).

 For further information on preparing for an emergency please contact:

San Diego County

Office of Disaster Preparedness

(858) 565-3490


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