Terrorism

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How likely is the City of West Covina to be at the center of a Terrorism event?

Traditionally terrorists have always tried to strike at high publicity targets to garner as much media coverage as possible. We do not feel that West Covina would meet these needs of the terrorists, although sites in the Los Angeles area may. 

Because of this, the City of West Covina participates with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to track and prevent suspected terrorist threats. And the city has participated in countywide drills to exercise the City's Emergency Operations Center in handling these types of events. 


How prepared is the City of West Covina for a Terrorism attack?

Since the Murrah Building bombings in Oklahoma, all cities across the country have increased their response readiness efforts toward preparing for a terrorism event. The City of West Covina has participated in countywide training in preparing Fire Department paramedics for incidents of terrorism. Additional equipment purchased through a Department of Justice Domestic Preparedness grant has been added to Emergency response vehicles to handle these types of calls or any call where there are large numbers of injured or ill citizens. 


If we aren't a target, how come all the preparation?

We know from past events that a terrorist incident draws a significant Emergency Services response, and like large brush fires it will be necessary to share resources through a Master mutual aid plan. This plan is like a neighbor helping neighbor plan for Cities, and to enable different agencies to work together it is important to have similar training and response equipment. 

How should I prepare my family?

The rules for home preparation against a terrorist attack are the same as those we teach for any disaster, whether it is an Earthquake or Severe Winter Storm. Be prepared to be self sufficient for 48 - 72 hours. 


The items you should have include:

  • Food with a long shelf life - Examples of this include canned, dried, and packaged food products. Store enough food for each member of the household for at least 3 days. 
  • Water - In preparation for an emergency, purchase and store bottled water or simply store water from the tap. Each person in the household will need about 1 gallon per day; plan on storing enough water for at least 3 days. 
  • A change of clothes and shoes - Check clothing every 6 months and remove clothes that no longer fit or are unsuitable for seasonal weather. Remember to include underwear, socks, sturdy shoes or work boots, and winter or summer clothes as needed. 
  • Paper plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils - Store disposable dishware and utensils because you will not have enough water to wash dishes and because community water sources may be contaminated. 
  • Plastic bags - Because you may not be able to leave your shelter for several days, you will need to collect your waste in plastic bags until it can be removed. 
  • Bedding - Store sheets, blankets, towels, and cots for use during the time that you cannot leave your shelter. 
  • Battery-operated radio and batteries - Electrical power may not be on for several days. A battery-operated radio will allow you to listen to emergency messages. 
  • Medicines - Be sure to store a few days' supply of any prescription medicines that your family takes. Check medicines every 6 months and rotate the prescriptions so that you always have a fresh supply in your shelter. 
  • Toiletries - Keep a supply of soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, deodorant, disinfectants, etc. 
  • Flashlight and batteries - Electrical power may be out for several days. A flashlight will help you see in your shelter. 
  • A telephone or cell phone - Although cell phone or ground phone service may be interrupted, there is still a chance that you will be able to use a phone to call outside for information and advice from emergency services. 
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleaning supplies. 
  • Duct tape and heavy plastic sheeting - You can use these items to seal the door to your shelter and to seal any vents that open into your shelter. 
  • Pet food, baby formula, diapers, etc. - Don't forget the other members of your family. If you have an infant, store extra formula and diapers. If you have pets keep a 3-day supply of pet food. 
  • First aid kit - You can purchase a first-aid kit or prepare one yourself. Be sure to include the following items: 
    • Sterile adhesive bandages
    • Sterile gauze pads in 2 inch and 4 inch sizes
    • Adhesive tape
    • Sterile rolled bandages
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers
    • Needle
    • Thermometer
    • Moistened towelettes
    • Antiseptic ointment
    • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
    • Soap or hand sanitizer
    • Latex or vinyl gloves
    • Safety pins
    • Aspirin or aspirin free pain reliever
    • Antidiarrhea medication
    • Laxatives
    • Antacids for stomach upset
    • Syrup of ipecac to cause vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center
    • Activated charcoal to stop vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center
  • Games, books and other entertainment - Because you may be in your shelter for several days, keep items on hand to occupy your family during that time. Children are likely to get bored if they have to stay in one place for long periods. Think of activities that they will enjoy doing while in the shelter - finger painting, coloring, playing games, etc.

Will I need a gas mask?

After seeing the common distribution of gas masks to the citizens of Israel during the Gulf War, there has been heightened interest in them here. You must remember that Israel was within striking distance of Scud missiles and we were unsure what kind of payload they might have been carrying. You are an unlikely target of a terrorist attack, although it is important to know the basics of how you can protect yourself and your family, carrying additional protective gear with you wherever you go in a 24-hour period, would be a great inconvenience. 

Remember to move away from a hazard that you have identified, protect your airway with a cloth covering your mouth, minimize your exposure by removing contaminated clothing or washing exposed skin, and follow the directions of Emergency responders as they approach the area. 

I have heard a lot about sheltering in place, How do I do it and why?

In cases where contamination is spread in the air, sometimes the safest place for you to be is in your home. In those cases you may be directed by Public Safety personnel through radio announcements or announcements in your neighborhood to shelter in place. 

If you are outside when the alert is given, and you think you may be contaminated, try to remove clothing and shoes and place them in a plastic bag before entering the house. During severe weather, such as extreme cold, remove at least the outer layer of clothes before entering the home to avoid bringing any contamination into your shelter. Leave clothing and shoes outside. Shower and wash your body with soap and water. Removing clothing will eliminate 90% of surface contamination. By taking this simple step, you will reduce the time that you are exposed and also your risk of injury from any hazardous material. 

Before entering the shelter, turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring air in from the outside. Close and lock all windows and doors, and close fireplace dampers. 

When you move to your shelter, you can use duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal any doors, windows, or vents. Remember plastic sheeting can be hazardous, never leave it where a child could access the plastic. Move to a center core room in your house, one with as few windows and doors as possible. 

Keep your radio tuned to an emergency response network at all times for updates on the situation. The announcers will provide information about when you may leave your shelter and whether you need to take other emergency measures. 

Provided by http://www.cdc.gov/ 

Are there any other sources of information?

Yes, The American Red Cross has good web site on disaster preparedness at http://www.redcross.org/ 

And the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health Services has web sites that give information about infectious diseases or chemical attack, those web sites are http://www.cdc.gov/ and http://www.ladhs.org/ respectively.

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