While it is great that Osama Bin Laden has been brought to justice, the likelihood of a retaliatory terrorist attack is high. Historically this has been true in Israel and in Europe and there have already been threats…such as a recently discovered plan to derail a passenger train.
Whether it is a terrorist attack or some other disaster, you and your family should be prepared. Here are some tips that may help keep you safe:
- This is the most important tip and the most basic: Create an emergency plan for your family. Children should memorize basic emergency numbers, your cell phone and office numbers and the phone number of a family member or friend outside the home who has been designated as an emergency contact. A pre-selected rally point should be selected where everyone in the family knows to gather in case you have to evacuate your home or neighborhood and can’t contact each other. If you do have children, you should select a person who could pick your children up from school in case a medical emergency or disaster prevents you from doing so. The school should be given this person’s name and photo so that the school will be pre-authorized to release your child to this person.
- If you commute to work, especially via public transportation, tunnels or bridges, vary the times that you go to work and return home during heightened terror alerts. Try to avoid rush hours, which are the most likely times to experience a terrorist attack, by going earlier or later.
- If you commute to work via subway, always carry a bottle of water and a small towel in your bag. If there is a gas attack or fire, you can wet the towel and put it over your mouth. This will reduce the amount of smoke or noxious fumes that you are inhaling.
- If you commute to work via subway, always carry a small flashlight so that if there is a power failure you can see to find the exits.
- If you commute to work via subway and there is an explosion and the train or station is evacuated, stand to the side for a few seconds and let the first mass of people take the stairs ahead of you. In these situations trampling kills as many people as fire or smoke inhalation. With a giant mass of frightened people trying to ascend the exit stairs at once, inevitably there will be pushing and people will fall. If you can’t be the first person on the stairs, it is better to be the last. This hold true for evacuations from any enclosed space, such as office buildings and arenas.
- Keep an emergency supply of cash in a fireproof safe in your home, preferably a couple thousand dollars. In the event of a blackout, natural disaster or terrorist attack it could be a while before you can access cash through your bank or an ATM machine.
- Purchase an emergency supply of gasoline. Keep a can of gas in the trunk of your car and store the rest, preferably in a place that is not connected to your residence. If there is a natural disaster or terrorist attack and you need to evacuate immediately, it may not be possible to get gas from your local station.
- Create digital copies of all of your important documents, such as: wills, financial records, insurance policies, passports, driver’s licenses and deeds. Store the copies on a CD or a USB flash drive somewhere outside of your immediate geographic area, such as with a family member, attorney or in a safe deposit box—or ideally, more than one place. In an urgent situation when the original copies are not accessible or have been destroyed, it would be invaluable to have the ability to email these documents to a financial institution, an insurance company so that you can begin to rebuild your life. Post Hurricane Katrina, many victims had difficulty accessing government aid because their identification had been lost in the floods.
- Keep a supply of canned food and fresh water, a gas powered hot plate, flashlights and batteries, cell phone chargers, a few hundred dollars in cash and an analog radio in your home at all times. These supplies should be boxed together in an easily portable container and stored in an easily accessible place where they can be gathered quickly so that you can grab it and run. These are basic supplies that you will need in the case of a prolonged blackout or an emergency evacuation.
For more information you can also consult my book, “Staying Safe”, available on amazon.com.