- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

Duct tape is not enough.
The Homeland Security Department yesterday added paper towels, cotton shirts and table salt to the items Americans should lay in against a nuclear, chemical or biological attack.
Even a good pair of running shoes is a good idea.
"Don't be afraid," Tom Ridge, the secretary of the Homeland Security Department, said yesterday in Cincinnati. "Be ready."
Mr. Ridge was in Cincinnati to issue guidelines for preparing against a terrorist attack, the third such announcement in the past 10 days.
"Stash away the duct tape," Mr. Ridge said. "Don't use it, stash it away."
The previous announcements first panicked many Americans, who weren't sure what the government was trying to tell them, and then became the stuff of jokes and cartoons when Mr. Ridge's department attempted, or seemed to attempt, to ease public fears. He said on Friday that his department's first statement about duct tape and plastic sheeting was "appropriate," but "we do not want individuals or families to start sealing their doors or their windows."
Mr. Ridge said yesterday that "experts tell us that a safe room inside your house or inside your apartment can help protect you from airborne contaminants for several hours. And that could be just enough time for that chemical agent to be blown away."
The latest announcement includes additional tips about how to survive catastrophic events, such as a nuclear blast, reminiscent of the "duck and cover" advice that schoolchildren of the '50s were taught, to hide under their desks and avert their eyes from the blinding light of a nuclear blast.
The full text of the tips is available on the Internet at www.ready.gov. "Take cover immediately, below ground if possible, though any shield or shelter will help protect you from the immediate effects of the blast and the pressure wave."
Americans are advised to consult their doctors now for guidance on whether they should take potassium iodine, "the same stuff added to your table salt to make it iodized."
In case of a chemical attack, the government's basic advice is to run.
"Take immediate action to get away. If the chemical is inside a building where you are, get out of the building without passing through the contaminated area, if possible. Otherwise, it may be better to move as far away from where you suspect the chemical release is and 'shelter-in-place.' If you are outside, quickly decide what is the fastest escape from the chemical threat. Consider if you can get out of the area or if you should follow plans to 'shelter-in-place.'"
Cotton toweling can be "the fabric of your life" to protect against a biological attack.
"If you become aware of an unusual and suspicious release of an unknown substance nearby, it doesn't hurt to protect yourself. Quickly get away. Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but still allow breathing. Examples include two to three layers of cotton such as a T-shirt, handkerchief, or towel. Otherwise, several layers of tissue or paper towels may help. Wash with soap and water and contact authorities."
Fear is the enemy, Mr. Ridge said. "We can be afraid or we can be ready. Americans aren't afraid and we will be ready. The next attack could happen to any community at any time. The random, unpredictable nature of terrorism itself requires everyone to take our recommendations to be prepared regardless of where they live."
An emergency supply kit should contain three days of nonperishable food and water, as well as a flashlight, radio, blankets, first-aid kit and a manual can opener, according to the guidelines.
Mr. Ridge said the campaign is not a response to terrorism, but a deterrent to what he called the terrorists' psychological war of fear.
"The 'Ready Campaign' is designed for those who want their families to be prepared, but have asked us, 'what can I do?' After September 11, many of you wrote a check, volunteered or raised a flag. So now we're asking you to write an emergency plan, buy supplies, and hang a list of contact numbers on the wall. We cannot be complacent. Terrorists are strategic actors and they can act on their timetable, not ours. They seek to turn our neighborhoods into battlefields. That is why individual citizens have such an important role to play. Much of our population and much of our nation's critical infrastructure lies in suburban and rural America."
The Salvation Army will distribute pamphlets with the information from their 9,000 locations, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America has donated more than $17 million of space for ads. Mr. Ridge appears in the television ads with New York City firefighters and police officers, urging Americans to take the simple steps to prepare for a terrorist attack, but not to fear terrorists.
Says the Homeland Security Department: "The ads stress the need to 'Arm Yourself with Information' which is meant to empower Americans by helping them see that they can take simple steps to protect themselves."


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