- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

CINCINNATI, Feb. 19 (UPI) — Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge Wednesday announced the "Ready Campaign" to inform Americans of their responsibility to be prepared in case of a terrorist attack.

"We can be afraid, or we can be ready," Ridge told an audience in Cincinnati.

The secretary told the local chapter of the American Red Cross that a "sense of uncertainty steals some of the innocence and some of the security that we painstakingly try to build for our children. It's not always easy to know the right thing to say or the right thing to do."

Ridge said Americans want to stay informed, but added, "we do not want to surrender to fear. We'll never surrender to fear, because fear is the terrorists' most effective weapon."

The secretary said the new campaign would help "build a more prepared nation, one individual, one family, one neighborhood, one community at a time."

The campaign is being promoted "through a multi-year, multi-media information and public service advertising campaign, donated by several private sector partners, reaching every single citizen in our great country."

Ridge added that there "are simple things you and your family can do to prepare for the unlikely but possible terrorist incident, namely: Make a kit, make a plan, and be informed."

The information promoted by the Ready Campaign is available at ready.gov. For those still not plugged into the Internet, written information is available by calling 1-800-BE-READY.

The campaign was being launched while the country remains under an orange, or "high," level of terror alert, the second-highest level on the department's five-color terror advisory system.

To "make a kit," people are advised to lay in a list of emergency supplies, including food and water. They are also advised to provide for "clean air," in part through the use of facial masks and the much-parodied plastic sheeting and duct tape on the windows.

In the same category, "special needs items" can include formula, diapers and diaper rash ointments, as well as medications.

Under the "make a plan" category, the department gives some practical tips on "creating a family plan" so that each member of the family has an idea of what to do in a terror emergency.

The category also offers advice on how to cope at work or at school, in a moving vehicle or in a high rise.

Under "be informed," the package soberly addresses a biological threat, chemical threat, radiation threat, nuclear blast and a conventional explosion.

The campaign even comes with its own motto: "Don't be afraid … Be Ready."

The department said much of the information in the new campaign is not new, but had already been compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Red Cross also had input into preparing Americans for the unthinkable.

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