Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, all Americans have become more conscious of the threat terrorism poses. While the threat to Waukesha County is small, all citizens can become more vigilant and aware of the threat of terrorism.
What is terrorism?
Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to create fear among the public, to try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, and to get immediate publicity for their causes. Terrorism may take many different forms and terrorists may use biological, chemical, nuclear, incendiary, or explosive materials.
What Waukesha County Has Done?
Waukesha County has been preparing for terrorist attacks for several years. Waukesha County has also been providing training and equipment to local first responders such as law enforcement officials, fire departments and hazmat teams. The Office of Emergency Management, in conjunction with law enforcement, FBI, fire/EMS, Red Cross, hospitals, physicians, and the county public health department, prepared a Terrorism Response Plan as well as a Bioterrorism Response Plan. These plans are both part of Waukesha County’s All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan. Waukesha County will continue to conduct exercises and pursue training and equipment for its first responders.
What You Can Do?
Preparing for a terrorist incident includes many of the same techniques used to prepare for other crises.
- Be alert and aware of the surrounding area. The very nature of terrorism suggests that there may be little or no warning.
- Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended.
- Learn where emergency exits are located. Think ahead about how to evacuate a building, subway or congested public area in a hurry. Learn where staircases are located.
- Notice your immediate surroundings. Be aware of heavy or breakable objects that could move, fall or break in an explosion.
The use of explosives by terrorists can result in collapsed buildings and fires. People who live or work in a multi-level building can do the following:
- Review emergency evacuation procedures. Know where fire exits are located.
- Keep fire extinguishers in working order. Know where they are located, and how to use them. Learn first aid. Contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross for additional information.
- Keep the following items in a designated place on each floor of the building:
- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Several flashlights and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Several hard hats
- Fluorescent tape to rope off dangerous areas
As with any other disaster or emergency, advance preparations and planning can make the incident much more manageable for you and your family. Some actions you and your family can take to be better prepared for a terrorist incident or any other disaster include assembling a disaster supplies kit, choosing an out-of-town contact, selecting a meeting place, and becoming familiar with your children’s school’s emergency plans.
Disaster Supplies Kit:
As with any other disaster, the best way to protect your family is to plan ahead. Assemble a disaster supplies kit for three days including some general emergency supplies and any special items you require. This kit could be kept in a sturdy plastic container or duffel bag or some other easy to carry container. Recommended items in this kit include:
- Food that doesn’t require cooking or refrigeration and any special foods you require. Write dates on your food supplies and restock your food every 6 months.
- Non-electric can opener.
- Water – one gallon per day per person. Write dates on your containers and restock your water every 6 months.
- Battery powered radio and flashlight with extra batteries for each.
- Blankets or sleeping bags.
- Change of clothing, rain gear, sturdy shoes, and seasonal items such as gloves, hats, and scarves.
- Extra set of house and car keys.
- Some cash, a credit card and change for a pay phone.
- First aid kit.
- Prescription medications, extra eyeglasses or contact lenses and supplies, and denture supplies.
- Personal hygiene supplies.
- Pliers, scissors, duct tape, and plastic sheeting or aluminum foil.
- Phone numbers and e-mail addresses of local and non-local relatives or friends.
- Copies of important family documents—such as insurance cards, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, licenses, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and companies, and wills. Store these in a watertight container.
- Paper and pens/pencils.
- Special items for babies and children such as diapers, formula, bottles, entertainment and comfort items.
- Non-perishable food and other supplies for pets.
Out-of-Town Emergency Contact:
Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact. Make sure every household member has e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager and cell) for the contact and each other. Leave these numbers at your children's schools and at your workplace. Your family should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or try e-mail. Many people flood the telephone lines when emergencies happen, but e-mail can sometimes get through when calls don't.
Predetermined Meeting Place:
Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.
School Emergency Plan:
Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you may have. In an emergency, your children may be sheltered in place or evacuated from school. Be sure that the school has updated information about how to reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pickup. And, ask what type of authorization the school may require to release a child to someone you designate, if you are not able to pick up your child. If protective actions are being taken at your children's school, do not go to the school. School personnel are trained to handle emergencies. During times of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls. For further information, listen to local emergency radio and TV stations to learn when and where you can pick up your children.
For more information on what you can do to be prepared for a terrorist event, see the following:
For additional information on terrorism, the following may be helpful:
For more information about the specific effects of chemical or biological agents, consult the following: