Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

The Task of Disaster Planning for Terrorism

January 1st, 2016 10:00 PM by Dan Howard

                For much of our lives, Emergency or Disaster Planning referred to natural disasters. Those plans would include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and the like. 

              History has changed. As one example, up until 911, if a plane was hijacked, it meant that the passengers got a flight to see what Cuba looked like, not die in an inferno as a plane was driven into a building. Fights at schools were talked about all day, and two students duked it out with fists in an agreed meeting place just out of sight of the school. Guns and mass killings were not a reality we imagined in our wildest dreams.  

             “Shelter in Place” is the term used for “Stay in your home, do not go outside because it is dangerous”. One reason to Shelter in Place could be terrorists on the loose that are using conventional weapons such and guns and explosives. Blocking of doors and windows with barricades in an interior room is the best plan in that case.

                When the reason to “shelter in place” is chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, there are other considerations to include in the plan. Sarin gas, disease agents and dirty nuclear bombs are examples of this type of attack.   Most of these deadly toxins tend to move at ground level, not at a higher elevation. The best plan is to: 

  • Close and seal window and doors the best you can.
  • Duct tape windows and doors to help seal the air.
  • Stay in an interior area of the home without windows and in the upper level
  • Do not operate heat and cooling systems that can pull outdoor air into the building
  • Close and seal fireplace dampers

Other Resources to Prepare for Disaster are a Click Away

              Smart phone technology has many benefits, and one is “Apps” for just about everything. Google the subject of “Disaster Apps” and a list of quality apps are available. Select the ones most fitted for your area and circumstances.

              Many of us have been touched by at least one and often several disasters. From our family’s experiences, we have had parents evacuated for hurricanes and nieces and nephews in the Columbine School system. When 911 hit, we had several children in office towers in Pittsburgh.    

             The lesson here is that each and every American should prepare for natural and terrorist disasters.



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