Before a Biological Emergency
A biological attack may or may not be immediately obvious. In most cases local health care workers will report a pattern of unusual illness or there will be a wave of sick people seeking emergency medical attention.Build an Emergency Supply Kit
Make a Family Emergency Plan
Check with your doctor to ensure all required or suggested immunizations are up to date for yourself, your children and elderly family members.
Consider installing a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your furnace return duct, which will filter out most biological agents that may enter your house
The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a biological threat:
During a Biological Threat
The first evidence of an attack may be when you notice symptoms of the disease caused by exposure to an agent. In the event of a biological attack, public health officials may not immediately be able to provide information on what you should do. It will take time to determine exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who is in danger.
Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet for official news and information including signs and symptoms of the disease, areas in danger, if medications or vaccinations are being distributed and where you should seek medical attention if you become ill.
If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious substance, quickly get away.
Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing. Examples include two to three layers of cotton such as a t-shirt, handkerchief or towel.
Depending on the situation, wear a face mask to reduce inhaling or spreading germs.
If you have been exposed to a biological agent, remove and bag your clothes and personal items. Follow official instructions for disposal of contaminated items.
Wash yourself with soap and water and put on clean clothes.
Contact authorities and seek medical assistance. You may be advised to stay away from others or even quarantined.
If your symptoms match those described and you are in the group considered at risk, immediately seek emergency medical attention.
Follow instructions of doctors and other public health officials.
If the disease is contagious expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
For non-contagious diseases, expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
In a declared biological emergency or developing epidemic avoid crowds
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently.
Do not share food or utensils.
Follow these guidelines during a biological threat:
After a Biological Threat
Pay close attention to all official warnings and instructions on how to proceed. The delivery of medical services for a biological event may be handled differently to respond to increased demand.
The basic public health procedures and medical protocols for handling exposure to biological agents are the same as for any infectious disease. It is important for you to pay attention to official instructions via radio, television, and emergency alert systems.
Before a Chemical Emergency
A chemical attack could come without warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing, eye irritation, loss of coordination, nausea, or burning in the nose, throat and lungs. The presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.
Be sure to prepare to recive timely alert, to prepare know your evacuation routes and shelters.
During a Chemical Emergency
What you should do in a chemical attack:
Quickly try to define the impacted area or where the chemical is coming from, if possible.
Take immediate action to get away.
If the chemical is inside a building where you are, get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area, if possible.
If you can't get out of the building or find clean air without passing through the affected area, move as far away as possible and shelter-in-place.
If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:
Close doors and windows and turn off all ventilation, including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
Seek shelter in an internal room with your disaster supplies kit.
Seal the room with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
Listen to the radio or television for instructions from authorities.
If you are caught in or near a contaminated area outdoors:
Quickly decide what is the fastest way to find clean air:
- Move away immediately, in a direction upwind of the source.
- Find the closest building to shelter-in-place.
After a Chemical Emergency
Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe to do so.
A person affected by a chemical agent requires immediate medical attention from a professional. If medical help is not immediately available, decontaminate yourself and assist in decontaminating others.
Decontamination guidelines are as follows:
Use extreme caution when helping others who have been exposed to chemical agents.
Remove all clothing and other items in contact with the body.
Wash hands with soap and water.
Flush eyes with water.
Gently wash face and hair with soap and water before thoroughly rinsing with water.
Proceed to a medical facility for screening and professional treatment.
- Cut off clothing normally removed over the head to avoid contact with the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Put contaminated clothing and items into a plastic bag and seal it.
- Remove eyeglasses or contact lenses. Put glasses in a pan of household bleach to decontaminate them and then rinse and dry.