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Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks: A Quick Guide

NCJ Number
Lynn E. Davis; Tom LaTourrette; David E. Mosher; Lois M. Davis; David R. Howell
Date Published
35 pages
This guide presents strategies individuals can use to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks that involve chemical, radiological, nuclear, and biological weapons.
The actions recommended are appropriate regardless of the likelihood of an attack, its scale, or the current government alert level; they are designed to be useful over a range of variations in scenarios; and they are presented as simple rules that should be easy to follow. The overarching goal of the response strategy for a chemical attack is to find clean air very quickly. If confronted with an attack outdoors, take shelter quickly in the closest building and close all windows and doors and shut off the flow of air; move upstairs, find an interior room, and seal the room. When told it is safe to leave, ventilate and vacate the shelter. If the attack occurs indoors, follow chemical attack plans specific to the building; if not available, open windows and breathe fresh air. Once protected from chemical agent exposure, decontaminate by removing clothes and showering. Seek medical treatment when conditions are safe. The overarching goal of the strategy for responding to a radiological attack is to avoid inhaling dust that could be radioactive. If outdoors, cover nose and mouth and seek indoor shelter; if the explosion is inside a building, cover nose and mouth and go outside immediately; decontaminate by removing clothing and showering. Follow instructions for relocation. The overarching goal in responding to a biological attack is to get medical aid and minimize further exposure to agents in accordance with guidance provided by public health officials. The overarching goal for the response strategy in case of a nuclear attack is to avoid radioactive fallout by evacuating the fallout zone quickly, or, if not possible, seek the best available shelter, which involves moving as far underground as possible or moving to the upper floors of a multistory building. This guide also recommends personal priorities in any response strategy and offers recommendations for individual preparation, as well as preparation by government and business.