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Hazardous material threats

Carbon monoxide

Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide – a colorless and odorless gas – can be produced from improperly vented furnaces, plugged or cracked chimneys, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, and tail pipes. Follow these carbon monoxide safety tips:

  • Make sure all fuel-burning items – furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers – are properly ventilated.
  • If you have a working fireplace, keep chimneys clean and clear of debris.
  • Never turn on your oven to heat your kitchen, or operate gas or charcoal barbecue grills, kerosene, or oil-burning heaters in an enclosed space.
  • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. Check and change batteries often.
  • Recognize signs of carbon monoxide poisoning: the most common symptom is a headache. Symptoms may also include dizziness, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Leave your home.
  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Get any victims to fresh air immediately.
  • Open windows.
  • Call your local utility.

Radiation exposure

Small amounts of radiation – such as from X-rays – are considered safe. In the unlikely event that the Village is exposed to unsafe levels of radiation, there are ways to minimize exposure. Steps to reduce your exposure to radiation include:

  • If you are outside, get inside. Remove all clothing and wash thoroughly.
  • Cover your nose and mouth to avoid ingesting dust.
  • If there's an event indoors, try to get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area. If you cannot escape, it may be better to shelter in place.
  • Potassium Iodide (known as KI) is a kind of salt that can prevent damage to your thyroid gland ONLY if you are exposed to radioactive iodine. It will not help you in other radioactive environments, and must be administered within a few hours of exposure to be effective. KI is generally only recommended for children, adolescents, pregnant women, and others with growing thyroids. In the unlikely event of radiation exposure, the Village may distribute KI.

Three general guidelines to minimize your exposure to radiation:

  • Time
    Radioactive materials become less radioactive over time. Stay inside until authorities alert you the threat has passed.
  • Distance
    The greater the distance between you and the source of the radiation the better. Authorities may call for an evacuation of people from areas close to the release.
  • Shielding
    Put as much heavy, dense material between you and the source of the radiation as possible. Authorities may advise you to stay indoors or underground for this reason. Close and seal your windows and turn off any ventilation.

Hazardous materials or chemical spills

We use hazardous materials in our homes and businesses every day. Small spills occasionally occur, but these incidents generally cause the public little difficulty other than traffic delays. In the event of a major spill, authorities will instruct you on the best course of action; however you should heed the precautions listed below:

  • Stay upwind of the material if possible.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible if needed.
  • If there's an event indoors, try to get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area. Otherwise, it may be better to move as far away from the event as possible and shelter in place.
  • If exposed, remove outer layer of clothes, separate yourself from them, and wash yourself.
  • In some circumstances, after being exposed to hazardous materials, it may be necessary to be "decontaminated." Specially trained emergency personnel will perform decontamination procedures, which may include the removal of personal items and cleansing of exposed areas of the body. They will provide for medical attention if necessary.

Building collapses or explosions

Building collapses or explosions can be the result of structural damage or sabotage. Either way, the set of rules below apply:

  • Get out as quickly and calmly as possible.
  • If you can't get out of the building, get under a sturdy table or desk.

If you clean up debris:

  • Wear gloves and sturdy shoes.
  • Sort debris by type (wood, appliances, etc.).
  • Do not touch debris that contains utility wires.
  • Do not move large or heavy debris. Ask for help from neighbors, friends and recovery workers.

If you are trapped by debris:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth or clothing.
  • Move around as little as possible to avoid kicking up dust, which is harmful to inhale. If possible, use a flashlight so that you can see your surroundings.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available.
  • Shout only as a last resort as shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

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Terrorism

A terrorist's primary objective is to create fear. With accurate information and basic emergency preparedness, you can fight back. Keep in mind that accidents can sometimes appear to be terrorist events and vice versa. Your response should be similar in either case.

Know the facts and be responsible:

  • Know the facts of a situation and think critically. Confirm reports using a variety of reliable sources of information, such as the government or media.
  • Do not spread rumors.
  • Do not accept packages from strangers and do not leave luggage or bags unattended in public areas, such as the subway.

Biological attacks

A biological attack occurs when a terrorist intentionally causes a disease epidemic.

Chemical attacks

The intentional release of hazardous materials constitutes an act of terrorism; however, accidents involving hazardous materials may also occur. Your course of action should be the same in either case.

Radiological attacks

Radiological attacks occur when radioactive material is intentionally released.

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD):

  • An RDD is designed to scatter amounts of radioactive material over a wide area. The further the material disperses, the less harmful it is. In most cases, the amount of material is unlikely to be lethal.

"Dirty Bomb":

  • A "Dirty Bomb" is a kind of RDD that combines conventional explosives and radioactive material. The explosive is intended to scatter the radioactive material. More damage and casualties may result from the explosion than from the radiation itself.

A parcel or letter may be considered suspicious when it has more than one of the following characteristics:

  • Handwritten or poorly typed address, incorrect titles or titles with no name, or misspellings of common words.
  • Addressed to someone no longer with your organization or not addressed to a specific person.
  • Strange return address or no return address.
  • Marked with restrictions, such as "Personal," "Confidential," or "Do not X-ray."
  • Excessive postage.
  • Powdery substance on the outside.
  • Unusual weight given its size, lopsided, or oddly shaped.
  • Unusual amount of tape on it.
  • Odors, discolorations, or oily stains.

If you receive a suspicious package or envelope:

  • PUT IT DOWN – preferably on a stable surface.
  • Cover it with an airtight container like a trash can or plastic bag.
  • Call 9-1-1 and alert your building's security officials.
  • Alert others to the presence of the package and evacuate the area.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water if you have handled the package.
  • Make a list of the people who were in the room or area where the suspicious package was recognized, and give it to authorities.
  • Do not stray far from the area if you believe you have been exposed.

If you receive a bomb threat, ask the caller as many of the following questions as possible:

  • When is the bomb going to explode?
  • Where is the bomb right now?
  • What does the bomb look like?
  • What kind of bomb is it?
  • Where are you calling from?
  • Why did you place the bomb

Keep the caller on the line for as long as possible and try to write down or record the conversation. Write down the exact time and length of call. Listen carefully to the caller's voice and background noise. After you hang up, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY.

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Last updated: 6/10/2008 10:41:59 PM