Increased National Threat Level
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,
· Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning
· 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 http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/shelterinplace.html
· 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 http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/shelterinplace.html.
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
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
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 www.redcross.org/disaster/masters/facingfear. 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
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 www.redcross.org 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 http://www.redcross.org/disaster/masters/facingfear
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
· 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
· Please refer to the web sites at www.bt.cdc.gov
or www.hhs.gov 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 www.redcross.org.
Together We Prepare
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
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
4) Volunteer. Give of your time through volunteering.
more information, call the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red
Cross at (318) 865-9545.
Capital One Affinity Card
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American Red Cross and Capital One have teamed up to offer the Capital One
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Capital One American Red Cross Platinum MasterCard® makes contributing
to your local American Red Cross chapter even easier. Make a purchase
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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
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throughout our area.
take advantage of these great features
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Transfer balances and contribute even more
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For more information, call the Northwest Louisiana Chapter of
the American Red Cross at (318) 865-9545 or click
BALANCE TRANSFER AND CASH ADVANCE APR: 0.9% INTRO APR UNTIL 03/2003; 9.9%
FIXED APR THEREAFTER. PENALTY APR: 19.8%. MINIMUM FINANCE CHARGE: $.50.
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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.
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.