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Increased National Threat Leve

On Monday evening, March 17th, the national terror threat level was again raised to orange status, signifying a high risk of terrorist attacks.

When the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System was first adopted in March, many Americans wondered what they could do to prepare themselves and their families in the event of an attack. To assist, the American Red Cross developed specific disaster readiness guidelines for individuals, families, neighborhoods, schools and businesses.

Where to Start for Individual Preparedness
The first basic steps that should be taken include obtaining a copy of the Terrorism: Preparing for the Unexpected brochure from a local Red Cross chapter, taking a First Aid/CPR class and developing a disaster plan and a disaster supplies kit. When creating a disaster plan, families should identify an emergency contact and ensure that every family member has the number. After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance, so the emergency contact should be located out-of-state.
Individuals should also stock or check their disaster supplies kit, containing such items as water, a first aid kit, non-prescription drugs, sanitation items, plastic sheeting and tape. Additional measures include developing an emergency communications plan with family, neighbors and friends. This step is in addition to establishing an out-of-town contact, and involves setting up a phone tree with loved ones and neighbors so, in case of evacuation, the people on your list can pass along information such as where you are evacuating to immediately following a disaster. 

Orange Level Specific Recommendations
Once all actions for each of the lower levels are completed, individuals should then take a few additional measures specific to the orange condition. Individuals should review their disaster plans and recheck their supplies kit. At this heightened state of alert, individuals should also be ready to “shelter-in-place” if necessary and recommended by local authorities in the event that hazardous materials have been released into the atmosphere. Shelter-in-place is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors, and means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there. An important reminder is that shelter-in-place is not the same as seeking shelter from a disaster such as a hurricane. Should the measure be necessary, information will be provided by local authorities on television and radio stations on how to protect you and your family. Because information will most likely be provided on television and radio, it is important to keep a TV or radio on, even during the workday. The important thing is for you to follow instructions of local authorities and know what to do if they advise you to shelter-in-place.

To shelter-in-place at home:
·    Close and lock all windows and exterior doors. If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
·    Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
·    Close the fireplace damper.
·    Get your family disaster supplies kit, and make sure the radio is working.
·    Go to an interior room without windows that's above ground level. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
·    Bring your pets with you, and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
·    It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select. Call your emergency contact and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. --Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
·    Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
·    Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.

·    Instructions on how to “shelter-in-place” are provided on our national web site at
·    Please do not confuse the recommendation to have at least three days’ worth of disaster supplies on hand with the amount of time that you may be asked to shelter-in-place. We always recommend having at least three days’ worth of supplies in case stores are closed and roads are impassible due to a disaster like a flood or winter storm. 

Q: Does the Red Cross recommend stocking duct tape and plastic sheeting?
·    Yes.  These materials have always been recommended to have and may be needed if advised by local authorities to “shelter-in-place.”

Q: I’m confused about this duct tape and plastic sheeting recommendation - am I supposed to seal my whole house and do it now? How much do I need? Is plastic really going to stop a chemical agent? What kind of plastic sheeting should I use?
·    The recommendation to shelter-in-place using duct tape and plastic sheeting will be provided by local government officials only when an emergency occurs. The Red Cross recommends that people have these supplies on hand in case they are needed.
·    You would seal only one room when advised to do so, and do it only when instructed - not in advance.
·    It is likely that one roll of duct tape will be adequate. Plastic sheeting of durable thickness (thicker than food wrap) is recommended for covering vents and other openings to the outside - not the entire room. It is intended to provide a barrier to air flow.
·    While we can not guarantee that plastic sheeting over air vents will stop all biological, chemical, or radiological agents, it will add to the barrier of protection for your safety.
·    For further instructions, see “shelter in place” information at

Q: If I seal off my rooms and vents, how will I breathe? How long should I anticipate being in the room in which I am sheltering-in-place?
·    Instructions to shelter-in-place are usually provided for a matter of hours, not weeks. There is little danger that the room in which you are taking shelter will run out of oxygen and you will suffocate.

Q: Is the room in which to shelter-in-place a bathroom?
·    A bathroom may be a good choice for the room in which to “shelter-in-place” as long as it does not have windows (or few windows) and you can block openings (such as vents) to the outside.

Q: What about my pets? How much should I add to my disaster supplies kit for them?
·    Store enough supplies for your pet’s needs for at least three days, including food, water, and related items such as kitty litter.

Q: Do you recommend that people have a gas mask?
·    No. The most current advice provided by the Centers for Disease Control is that gas masks are not recommended for the general public. They need to be fitted carefully for each face, and there are different kinds of masks for different types of agents. Having or using a gas mask may offer a false sense of security.

Q: Does the Red Cross recommend that people stock up on certain antibiotics?
·    No. An antibiotic is a chemical that is used after exposure to a disease-causing organism.  In addition:
1.    Antibiotics are specific as to the type of organism they work for. You don't know which one to take until you know what you have been exposed to.
2.    Most antibiotics have a limited shelf-life, and some require refrigeration and/or special storage.
3.    Antibiotics are not useful for virus-caused illnesses. Viruses are different types of organisms and are not affected by antibiotics.
4.    The Red Cross only recommends that people have antibiotics on hand that their physician has prescribed for specific conditions. Further, the person receiving the antibiotics should get advice from the physician or a licensed pharmacist as how to store and maintain antibiotics, as well as how to use them.

Q: Tell me more about the personal communications plan that you recommend?
·    The greatest cause of anxiety when disaster happens is not knowing how the people you care about are doing. It is important to list all telephone numbers as well as e-mail addresses for everyone that you will need to notify in an emergency.
·    Also, designate someone who lives out-of-town to be the central contact, in case those you care about are in different places when disaster strikes.

Q: How can schools prepare for the unexpected?
·    The American Red Cross has produced the Facing Fear: Helping Young People Deal With Terrorism and Tragic Events curriculum which is on line at These lessons and activities will help educators deal with student's concerns, as well as practice drills on "reverse evacuation" if required.

Q: What should you do if you hear about an emergency and your children are in school?
·    Schools should have an emergency plan - check with your children’s school now to find out what the plan is.
·    If an emergency happens while children are in school, often the school will hold children until the area is safe and parents or a designated adult can pick them up.
·    Parents should not drive to school to pick up children unless advised to do so; driving on the roadways may put you into harm’s way.

Q: How do I find out what kind of plan my place of employment has?
·    Ask your supervisor or facilities manager. If your employer does not have a plan, suggest that they read the “Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry” (A5025) which is available for downloading from for more information.

Q: How can we handle fears and concerns of children?
·    The American Red Cross has resources available that can help children deal with terrorism and tragic events. See the lessons and activities titled Facing Fear: Helping Children Deal With Terrorism and Tragic Events. These materials are available to be downloaded from

Q: How do I stay calm?
·    Develop a plan on how to respond with your family, including loved-ones who will be concerned about you but who do not live with you.
·    Include an emergency communications plan. If a disaster happens, follow your plan. Knowing what to do and doing it is the best way to remain calm.

Q: Tell me about smallpox, ricin, and other specific biological or chemical hazards.
·    Please refer to the web sites at or for specific information. It is okay for the Red Cross to download and retransmit information from these web sites, however, it is important to make it clear what the source of the information is - a government agency, not the Red Cross.

Q: If I hear of an attack, what are the most important things I need to do in the first three or five minutes?
·    As every situation is different, requiring different actions depending on the problem, we advise that you should put your personal disaster plan into action. Listen to directions of local officials on radio and television and follow their advice. It is always a good idea to get your Disaster Supplies Kit and move to the room you selected in which to “shelter-in-place” and listen to local television and radio for more directions there.

More information is available at

Together We Prepare

Together We Prepare is the new American Red Cross initiative designed to get everyone in our community involved in making this a safer place for all of us. One of the ways YOU can help is by taking at least one of these steps.

1) Make A Plan. Design a Family Disaster Plan. You can find more about this in the Safety Tips part of our website. The Family Disaster Plan focuses on both families and individuals and will teach you how to help keep everyone safe in the event of a disaster.

2) Build a Kit. Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit. This kit will contain items that people may need if a) confined to their homes for an extended period of time (such as after a flood) or b) they are told to evacuate on short notice.

3) Get Trained. Get First Aid, CPR and AED training. If you have a home pool, getting Lifeguard or WSI training might also be a good idea. And attend Community Disaster Education presentations. For more information on all of these, visit our Community Courses section or call (318) 865-9545.

4) Volunteer. Give of your time through volunteering.

For more information, call the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross at (318) 865-9545.

Capital One Affinity Card

Did you know that you can get a great low rate on your credit card purchases and balance transfers and help the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross at the same time?

Now you can!

The American Red Cross and Capital One have teamed up to offer the Capital One American Red Cross Credit Card. For more information, visit this website:

The Capital One American Red Cross Platinum MasterCard® makes contributing to your local American Red Cross chapter even easier. Make a purchase with your card and Capital One will contribute one-half percent of the purchase amount* to your local chapter. In addition, upon approval, your local chapter will also receive a $30 contribution when you activate your new card and make your first purchase. That means by spending money you would already spend, you are helping the Northwest Louisiana Chapter provide services throughout our area.

Plus take advantage of these great features

No annual fee
A low 0.9% introductory APR until March 2003
A 9.9% fixed APR thereafter
Choose from three unique card designs
Transfer balances and contribute even more

Transfer balances when you apply and Capital One will also contribute one-half percent of those balances to your local chapter.

For more information, call the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross at (318) 865-9545 or click here.

Terms of Offer


* Capital One will contribute to your local American Red Cross chapter one-half percent of net purchases (new purchases minus returns) and balances transferred within 30 days of opening your account. The maximum contribution on balances transferred within 30 days of opening your account is $50 ($10,000 in transferred balances). If there is no chartered unit designated for your address, the entire contribution will be given to the national organization. Capital One will contribute $30 to your local chapter once you activate your account and make your first purchase. These contributions are not tax-deductible for the cardholder. These contributions will continue for as long as Capital One and the American Red Cross agree to continue this program. Contributions will be made within 45 days of the end of each calendar quarter as long as the account is open and in good standing. If the account is not open and in good standing, contributions will be held until the next calendar quarter during which these conditions are met.

Capital One is not affiliated with and does not endorse the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross name and emblem are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, of Capital One and its products, services and companies.