6 Key Things to Do Before, During, and After a Terrorist Attack

They say evil never rests and as we’ve discovered here in the U.S., evil at the hands of terrorists has become more common. We’ve been told by our “betters” that this is the “new normal”, and that we must accept it. So, if our leaders are willing to foist this “new normal” on us, then it behooves us each to learn as much as we can about the tactics of terrorists and how to respond in a way that could save lives. Terror attack survival is no longer reserved for citizens of hot spots like Israel.

A terror attack can take many different forms, and that’s the main reason preparing is difficult. After all, with the randomness, say a lone individual stabbing a complete stranger waiting in line at a Burger King, what do you do, other than wearing a stab vest everywhere? Recent attacks on pedestrians using a truck makes me wary of attending public events.

However, it’s completely possible that future terror attacks will be of an even more lethal variety, with far-reaching consequences and fatalities.

In the case of a CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive device) event, preparing for and responding to these is a challenge, since it depends on the type and size of weapon or device used, weather conditions, and the target (high-rise, mall, school, sporting event, city, etc) among other things.  However, there are a few key things you can do that could potentially save your life.

  • Watch & listen — Sounds simple and it is. Start making a habit of being aware of your surroundings. You don’t have to be paranoid or obvious ~ just make a mental note of the EXITS when you go to places. Also watch for suspicious activities and anything that is out of place, like someone wearing a heavy coat on a hot day or unattended bags and packages. Situational awareness can be both taught and learned. Begin using the strategies in this article in order to develop this skill.
  • Learn where to go — Find out in advance where you could shelter-in-place at the common places you go (e.g. home, office, school, mall, etc). Most city and county web sites list emergency shelters online or it’s available upon request, then use Mapquest or Google maps to locate ones closest to you. Ask your employer, schools, and other facility officials what their evacuation and sheltering plans are. Then choose a room in your home or building where you could hunker down with supplies and a radio for several hours or days if needed. If you are normally out and about a good deal of the day, then think about the homes of friends, relatives, acquaintances and buildings like churches and any organizations you have a connection with. Call these your “safe houses”. Mark them on maps for your loved ones, memorize addresses and directions, and take shelter there when/if you need to. For more details about safe houses, read this.
  • Get KI, KFM kits and dosimeters. — These are VERY worthy investments in the event of a nuclear incident.
    • KI (potassium iodide) basically fills up the thyroid with good iodine so your body doesn’t absorb the radioactive iodine. Children (including unborn babies) are most susceptible since their thyroids are so active. KI can be purchased inexpensively from Amazon. From the CDC, here are the correct and most currently recommended dosages:
      • Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.
      • Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
      • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
      • Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
      • Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
  • KFM kits (Kearny Fallout Meter) measure radiation more accurately than most instruments since they’re charged electrostatically. Free plans are available online or can be purchased as a kit ($45-$75).
  • Dosimeters are pen-like devices you can wear that measure the total dose or accumulated exposure to radiation as you move around ($45-$65 – needs a charger, too). You cannot see, feel, taste or smell radiation so detection devices are extremely important.
  • Expedient shelter — Nuclear fallout is deadly and you may only have a few moments to protect yourself since it starts falling minutes after a blast so learn how to make an expedient shelter. Taking shelter underground with shielding is best since it reduces exposure by 90%, but if you don’t have that option:
    • Find a spot away from windows in the center of home or building. Note: if the rooftop of a building next to you is on that same floor, move one floor up or down since radioactive fallout would accumulate on rooftops. Avoid the first floor (if possible) since fallout will pile up on the ground outside.
    • Set up a large, sturdy workbench or table in location you’ve chosen. If no table, make one by putting doors on top of boxes, appliances or furniture.
    • Put as much shielding (e.g. furniture, file cabinets, appliances, boxes or pillowcases filled with dirt or sand, boxes of food, water or books, concrete blocks, bricks, etc.) all around sides and on top of table, but don’t put too much weight on tabletop or it could collapse. Add reinforcing supports, if needed.
    • Leave a crawl space so everyone can get inside and block opening with shielding materials.
    • Leave 2 small air spaces for ventilation (about 4-6″ each) – one low at one end and one high at other end. (This allows for better airflow since warm air rises.)
    • Have water, detection devices, radio, food and sanitation supplies in case you have to shelter for days or weeks.
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After 7 hours, radiation levels drop tenfold, and if you stay put at least 2 days you’ve greatly improved your chances for survival. After 2 weeks, radiation levels will be very low. Time, distance, and shielding are critical components of surviving any type of nuclear attack or accident. (Note: Radiological incidents using an RDD or dirty bomb would not be as devastating or deadly since they use low-level radiation. The blast would probably cause more injuries and panic then the radiation.)

  • If you’re trapped — If you get trapped or buried in rubble from an explosive device (or natural disaster for that matter), try not to panic. Cover your mouth with a piece of clothing to help filter the dust. Do NOT use a cigarette lighter for any reason since there could be gas leaks! Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear you. (Yelling may cause you to inhale a lot of dust.)
  • Avoid crowds — During or after an incident stay away from large gatherings or crowds since they may be targets for subsequent attacks of one sort or another.

Again, this just barely scratches the surface on this topic, but doing some of these things could potentially help with your survival. We all should learn what to do during many types of disasters and emergencies and share the data with family members, especially our kids and grandkids. Knowledge is power. You may never need any of these steps or items listed here, but it never hurts to prepare for the unexpected.

Janet Liebsch, co-author of It’s a Disaster, contributed to this article.

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11 thoughts on “6 Key Things to Do Before, During, and After a Terrorist Attack”

  1. If you suspect that a terrorist attack has occurred, DO NOT use your cell phone, but call 911 from a landline to expedite an orderly evacuation and immediate dispatch of qualified law enforcement and emergency services to deal with the incident.

    WRITE DOWN your observations while still fresh.

    Tell the 911 call taker at the public safety answering point:
    WHAT happened, as best as you can determine,
    WHERE it happened, giving an exact street address if possible,
    The NUMBER and TYPE of injuries,
    WHAT is happening now,
    WHO you are,
    WHERE you are now and
    HOW you can be reached, so that investigators can interview you in more detail.

    Help others to evacuate to a safe location! Traditional training in hazardous material response builds on the “TDS” methods of Time, Distance and Shielding, even though the explicit link to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction often is not made.

    Always spend the least amount of time in the hazard area to minimize exposure.

    Always distance yourself from the hazard, but don’t neglect the fact that chemical or biological agents can be airborne or be heavier than the surrounding air, being more persistent in low areas with poor air circulation.

    You must not only seek distance from the hazard to minimize exposure, but move uphill and upwind from the source.

    Notify on-scene police or fire personnel !

    If none are present… then withdraw to a safe distance

    300 ft. for a small device, briefcase or package, if you have shielding

    1000 ft. MINIMUM for large device, suitcase or backpack in the open

    2000 ft. MINIMUM for vehicle, car or truck bomb, if you can seek cover in a substantial building!

    Get as far AWAY, UPHILL, UPWIND as possible!

    DON’T use your cell phone or 2-way radio

    Use a landline to CALL 911 !

  2. After fighting to read your site from all the ads that continually pop up, I will no longer be reading and looking on your site for information, I have deleted you from my favorites. It use to be a good site. Jim

    1. Sorry, but there are expenses connected with running a website. Ads only appear in the sidebar but can take 3 or 4 seconds to load. Are you one who believes everything should come to you for free as long as someone else pays for it with their time and money?

  3. Noah, I don’t find the ads objectionable and have found that some of the links have provided useful source info for obtaining certain items and supplies which I was seeking to aid in my preps.

    I like how you have carried on with the same quality of material without the sensationalism and tinfoil hat nonsense of other so-called “survival” sites on the net.

    Please carry on and don’t change a thing!

    1. Thanks, Charles. I wish I was retired, like Howard, and could write every day, but when I do write, I hope it’s quality reading.

  4. Noah, the ads are minimal and not a problem. As Charles says, some of them are worth checking out.

    Charles, thanks for the concise and coherent advice. Very useful.

    1. Thanks, Julie. The ads I personally object to are the ones that pop up and are difficult to close and sites that are 50% ads and maybe 50% information, if you’re lucky.

  5. if we get nuked who wants to survive,your just going to starve or drink in radiation with the water.so whats the point of surviving

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