Disaster Preparedness

The nation's terror alert level remains at orange -- the second-highest warning for a possible attack.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said the risk continues to be assessed -- not only day-to-day but hour-by-hour.

He refused to comment on reports that the informant who led to the latest alert change has failed a lie-detector test.

Ridge said the decision to raise alert levels is based on "multiple sources." But he added if the government should ever determine the information leading to a change is inaccurate, the alert level would be lowered.

He continues to urge Americans to prepare for any emergency by building up supplies -- including duct tape and plastic sheeting. But Ridge is stressing Americans shouldn't begin using that material yet to seal up windows and doors.

Next week, Ridge said his department will release a document that is aimed at informing and educating Americans about alert dangers -- without alarming them.

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Homeland Security Advisory System Recommendations for Families

Severe – Red

  • Complete recommended actions at lower levels
  • Listen to radio/TV for current information/instructions
  • Be alert to suspicious activity and report it to proper authorities immediately
  • Contact business/school to determine status of work/school day
  • Adhere to any travel restrictions announced by local governmental authorities
  • Be prepared to shelter in place or evacuate if instructed to do so by local governmental authorities
  • Discuss children’s fears concerning possible/actual terrorist attacks

High – Orange

  • Complete recommended actions at lower levels
  • Be alert to suspicious activity and report it to proper authorities
  • Review disaster plan with all family members
  • Ensure communication plan is understood/practiced by all family members
  • Exercise caution when traveling
  • Have shelter in place materials on hand and understand procedure
  • Discuss children’s fears concerning possible terrorist attacks
  • If a need is announced, donate blood at designated blood collection center

Elevated – Yellow

  • Complete recommended actions at lower levels
  • Be alert to suspicious activity and report it to proper authorities
  • Ensure disaster supplies kit is stocked and ready
  • Check telephone numbers and e-mail addresses in your family emergency communication plan and update as necessary
  • If not known to you, contact school to determine their emergency notification and evacuation plans for children
  • Develop alternate routes to/from school/work and practice them

Guarded – Blue

  • Complete recommended actions at lower levels
  • Be alert to suspicious activity and report it to proper authorities
  • Review stored disaster supplies and replace items that are outdated
  • Develop an emergency communication plan that all family members understand
  • Establish an alternate meeting place away from home with family/friends

Low – Green

  • Develop a personal disaster plan and disaster supplies kit
  • Take a Red Cross CPR/AED and first aid course

Source: http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/hsas.html
(The American Red Cross Web Site) contributed to this report


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