In Case of Bio-Chemical Terrorism, What Should I Do?

The top US anti-terrorism official says (on 60 Minutes) it is likely that an attempt will be made at some point in the future. With the conflict in the Mideast and the attack on the USS Cole, it makes me wonder if some group would try to spread a bio bomb or a nerve gas in Anytown, USA.

I work downtown in a large city (8 blocks from the Federal Bldg.) and I live about 15 miles away from downtown. Are there gas masks or something that would be lifesavers depending on which way the wind was blowing?

Do they make them to fit a 14 month old? Are there any middle-of-the-road websites that can provide this type of information without a bunch of anti-government, survivalist, conspiracy-theory content?

I don’t want to make you panic, but there’s not much you can do in most cases. If it’s a biological/bacteriological attack, it’s possible it would be against (for example) the water supply. If it’s a chemical attack, it would be as likely as not to be a nerve agent ingested through the skin - i.e. not just breathed in.

For the most part mattk is right. Botulism(sp?) could be tossed into a water supply for bio warfare and nerve gas will nail you through your skin.

Pray you’re upwind and drink bottled water.

Go to work wrapped from head to toe in three layers (at least!) of Saran Wrap. A layer of aluminum foil in between can’t hurt, either. Be sure to wear antiperspirant!!!

  1. Sit in a straight-backed chair.

  2. Place your head between your knees.

  3. Kiss your ass goodbye.
    (Thanx and a tip of the hat to that famous parody civil-defense poster of the late 1960s)

Not much you can do about gas.

As for biowarfare…

1)Take care of your health now. After all, good general physical condition also raises resistance to disease in general.

2)Get all your immunizations updated. Not to sound trite, but if an engineered varient on an existing organism shows up, this could help.

  1. Move at least 30 miles from a major urban or military center. If the wind speed was a brisk 15 miles per hour, it would take at least 2 hours to reach your location. Maybe longer. Might give you time to evacuate, if a warning was issued.

  2. Save those Y2K rations. Services & food deliveries may be disrupted in the event of an attack. This can help in the event of a natural disaster, such as flood, earthquake, hurricane, etc. Even if you ain’t scared of CBN weapons, this is a good idea.

5)Set up a network of close friends & family in advance. Agree to contact each other in the event of any kind of emergency, not just terrorism.

  1. As always, keep calm. Panic is your worst enemy. Your ancestors survived the Black Plague, smallpox, and the 1918 Spanish Influenza. As their decendant, you have inherited survivor genes. Keep a grip.
  1. Duck

  2. Cover

didn’t really answer the questions (websites, gasmasks). I didn’t put this in MPSIMS because it is a serious topic and it is too bad that people feel the need to post so badly that all they can come up with is “Saran Wrap” or “Duck and Cover” and not really contribute.

I suppose I’ll just find the answers myself and not share it with anyone. That way, the lines at the post office and grocery will be much shorter and I’ll actually have a chance of getting front row tickets to concerts and pro sports.

Probably someone will show up with better info, but:

Biological and Chemical are two very different beasts.

To cover chemical first: Your chances are not too good. Soldiers are trained (and trained, and trained…) to don their masks in nine seconds under all circumstances (and follow up with the rest of their protective gear) - that’s the level of readiness we’re talking about. That’s for people who have been briefed on the symptoms. Most people will shake their heads when their vision gets blurred and wonder why their nose is suddenly running - and then it’s too late. Chemical agents will go through the skin as well -and the lethal dosages are extremely small.

OTOH, chemical weapons - while certainly deadly - needs either a delivery system that covers a large area (rocket launchers a la the “Stalin Organ”, probably unavailable for your average terrorist) or an enclosed space (the Tokyo subway springs to mind). Blowing up a 50-gallon drum of nerve gas in a city doesn’t disperse the gas in an efficient manner.

So while I’m sure that you can buy gas masks (and probably some system for your child as well), are you prepared to live on 9-second gas alert for the rest of your life ?

If you live downwind of an attacked area, you have two basic possibilities: Stay indoors and let the cloud pass - close doors & windows, tape them shut if you can, and wait it out. Or move out of the way. Masks might be useful here, of course, but bear in mind that moving in a polluted area is deadly in a hundred different ways - touching your car door could transfer a lethal dose thorugh your skin.

Biological weapons: What Bosda (mind if I call you Bosda ?) said. Cool answer.

S. Norman

No gas mask is so small & portable, yet effective, that you can carry it around with you in your day-to-day life. (At least, not without funny looks.)

There is a medicine called Gamma Globulin. It temporarily raises your natural resistance to a very high level. Afterward, it reduces your immuno resistance for several months. In the event of a incident, maybe (more likely not, 'cause it’s rare) you could get some. It might get you through the initial crisis.

Your local Congresssman can get you Federal publications on Civil Defence, including Chemical & Biological Weapons Defense.

As for websites, use your search engine, lazybones. :stuck_out_tongue:

(worthless two cents:)

IMHO, sadly the best solution to this terrorist threat is to warn nations (like Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Lebanon) that an attack with weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. will be met with a massive retaliatory nuclear strike at their major population centers.

As horrible as it sounds, it worked through the cold war.

In the short term, we need to continue with building up our espionage in the terror states and to get rid of the laws banning the assassination of terrorist leaders (and supporters).

Forget about Dubya’s missle defense scheme (that’s just welfare for the rich and well connected). Bin-Laden will attack NYC with a cab dispensing anthrax spores.

I can’t speak for the other guys, but I was mocking you because I’m sorta grossed out that you’re looking for ways to keep on living after everyone else has been slaughtered during a particularly inhumane bout of warfare. What do you plan on doing during this period, anyway? Write anti-war poetry and read it aloud to the cockroaches?

Just do us a favor and don’t tapdance on our bloated corpses, okay?

Re: Gamma Globulin. That stuff is extremely expensive. My sister needed some of it a few years back (she had to have her spleen removed) and the price for the Gamma Globulin was well over $1000/dose. And it probably doesn’t store well, either.

One might also point out that you are probably more likely to die by choking on peanut butter or getting killed by pieces of a falling aircraft. Some might think that toting a gas mask everywhere you go could be just a wee bit paranoid.

Of course it is likely there will be an attempted biochem attack in the future–given enough time, the likelihood of any non-zero probability event will approach 100%. Will it happen in your lifetime where you live? I doubt it.

The “kiss your ass goodbye” folks are probably more right than you would like, especially with the nastier chemical weapons. Any advice you get will likely only help if you happen to be on the outskirts of the lethal zone. Accept that there are dangers in the world you can’t defend yourself against, trust that government will do its best (shudder) and stop worrying about it.

follow my first reply anyway.
None of it will hurt you, most of it will improve you health, and the rest will give you improved peace of mind. Happy Trails, Buckaroo! :slight_smile:

You forgot to mention the Tinfoil hat.

Well gee, I’d want to live even if the rest of the city was dead and dying. There’s nothing wrong with being prepared for an emergency even if the rest of us are not.

Note to all: If I’m ever taken out in a chemical or biological attack feel free to loot my home of anything you might find useful. I suggest that instead of tap dancing on my bloated corpse that you bury it and as many other corpses as possible. This should prevent more diseases from spreading and make living in your post apocalyptic world just that much more enjoyable.


Regarding bio-terrorism:

Likely agents are:

Anthrax (spread by inhalation of Bacillus anthracis spores) - not much you can do to prevent inhalation; Immediate treatment with antibiotics (tetracycline derivatives) is life-saving. Untreated cases of pulmonary anthrax have >80% mortality. No person-to-person spread.

Plague (Pneumonic form causing systemic infection with Yersinia pestis) Treatment (also with tetracycline-based meds) also greatly reduces mortality. High risk of person-to-person spread.

Smallpox (viral; no antibiotics available) Resumption of vaccination could prevent outbreak if credible threat existed, but we could also be facing genetically modified version which would not be affected by antibodies raised by usual vaccines. Low mortality with good medical support, but this can’t be assumed if hundreds of thousands of cases occur simultaneously. Mild risk of person-to-person spread.

Botulinum (toxin) - early symptoms double vision and difficulty swallowing. treated with antisera. Available stores, especially at a local level, could easily be exhausted by a massive terrorist attack.

Chemical Agents fall in sevral different classes -

  • Nerve agents (kill by paralysis)
  • Blister agents (kill by irritant-induced destruction of lung tissue)
  • Choking agents (phosgene, mustard) - kill by causing lung damage
    Blood agents (kill by irreversibly preventing oxygen from binding to hemoglobin)

The first three (*'d) are normally spread by aerosol. In fact aeresol really is the only way to effectively harm large numbers of people with these agents. Gas masks, and prevention of through-the-skin absorption are the only available protection. Antidote to nerve agent is issued to military troops considered at risk.

To the best of my knowledge, gas masks in the US are only used by the military, counter-terrorism outfits & local disaster agencies (fire departments). They would not routinely be available in sizes for infants or children. You might check out Israeli defense web sites; there the general population HAS been issued gas masks, and held drills often during the Gulf War. I don’t know what they do for children.

For bioagents, a piece of cloth folded 4-ply affords pretty good protection against inhalation. It would be better than nothing, but probably not enough for defense against aerosolized chem agents.

Ukulele Ike quote:

I can’t speak for the other guys, but I was mocking you because I’m sorta grossed out that you’re looking for ways to keep on living after everyone else has been slaughtered during a particularly inhumane bout of warfare. What do you plan on doing during this period, anyway? Write anti-war poetry and read it aloud to the cockroaches?

Just do us a favor and don’t tapdance on our bloated corpses, okay?

Ike, I’m talking about an act of terrorism and how to increase my odds of surviving, not an all out bio-war (which no one would survive).

The anti-terrorist pro on 60 Mins said the people in the immediate vicinity of the attack wouldn’t survive, but others on the fringe would if they (or their local authorities) are prepared. If I found out that a nerve agent attack, for example, can still be deadly 15 miles away and I have time to get gas masks out at home for my family, then I could save our lives. If it is only deadly for a 1 mile range then it wouldn’t matter: either I’d be dead or away from it safely already.

Who knows with genetics engineering if Ebola or some of the viruses could be spread through the air and person to person via breathing. If we knew a bio-terrorism attack had started, then maybe there would be time to take action.

I’m looking at it like this: if I can get a few gas masks for a not unreasonable sum of money then they would be there as insurance in case something like bio-terrorism ever happens here locally.

Another County: Isn’t smallpox virus extinct?