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Emergency Preparedness Frequently Asked Questions

What does a threat level increase mean?
When there is an upgrade to the colors Orange or Red at the national level, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office convenes with the Oakland County "Threat Assessment Team." As a member of this team we look at any and all threats and determine the applicability of these threats to the County of Oakland with particular emphasis on the County Complex and county buildings. The threats must be incident or intelligence specific to pose a significant threat to Oakland County. The Sheriff's Office will provide the necessary protection and uniform presence as well as other county departments. Additional staffing, deliveries, mail, visitation, office hours, employee and civilian pass system, ingress/egress as well as other initiatives may be changed based upon the recommendation of the Threat Assessment Team.
 
What does the government do to respond to threat level increases?
The government steps up security at airports, bridges, tunnels, dams, ports and border crossings. Homeland Security officials contact the nation's top CEOs and urge them to increase security at their companies' buildings. Hospitals and health officials are told to have plans in place to respond to a biological attack. State and local officials put more police on the streets and increase security at utilities and other vulnerable targets.
 
What should people do to prepare?
Families should choose two meeting places, one near home and one outside the neighborhood, in case members can't reach one another during a disaster. They also should choose a contact person who lives out of state who can relay messages if local phone networks are jammed or out of service. And they should prepare disaster kits for their home and cars.
 
What's the most important item in a disaster kit?
A battery-powered radio (with extra batteries) so you can listen to instructions from authorities.
 
What else should be in a kit?
At least three days' worth of water (one gallon per person per day), canned and other non-perishable food, over-the-counter medicine and regular prescription medicines.
·         Flashlights.
·         A non-electric can opener.
·         Diapers and baby food.
·         A wrench, if needed, to shut off utilities.
·         Copies of important documents, such as wills, deeds, bank account numbers, insurance papers and immunization records in a fire and waterproof container.
·         Duct tape and plastic sheeting.
 
 
 
What are the duct tape and plastic sheeting for?
If authorities tell you to stay in your home during a chemical or biological attack, seek shelter in an internal room or basement and turn off all ventilation, including heating and air-conditioning units. Use the plastic and tape to seal off doors and windows. This will help prevent lethal agents from seeping into your home.
 
If there has been an attack, should I try to leave town or stay home?
Follow any evacuation instructions from authorities. In an attack involving biological, chemical or radiological weapons, however, it generally would be safer to stay home. Authorities say trying to flee might only expose you to dangerous agents or leave you caught in traffic.
 
What if I've been directly exposed?
Seek immediate medical help. If none is available, try to decontaminate yourself by removing all clothing (with scissors, if possible, to avoid contact with eyes and mouth), gently washing your face and hands and blotting other contaminated areas. Don't scrape or rub affected skin.
 
What should I do in a radiological attack?
Seek shelter below ground and stay there until told otherwise. If you're caught outside, lie on the ground and cover your head.
 
Is the government telling only residents in New York City and Washington, D.C., to prepare for attack?
New York and Washington are particular targets for al-Qaeda, but officials are telling all citizens to prepare.
 
What will happen to my children at school?
Many schools are locked down during emergencies to keep children inside until it is safe for them to be picked up. Parents should learn about disaster plans at their children's schools.
 
Why did it take 17 months after Sept. 11, 2001, to urge people to prepare for another attack?
Information about disaster preparedness was available on the Internet and in government offices well before the Sept. 11 attacks. But most people haven't read it. Officials decided that the latest terrorism alert warranted asking the news media to pass on the message that people should prepare.
 
Are U.S. officials worried about causing panic?
Yes, and they say that they do not mean to scare people with the warnings. They say they just want people to learn how to survive an attack.
 
Won't firefighters and police officers help me in an emergency?
The U.S. has only one firefighter for every 280 people and one police officer for every 385 people. That means that in an emergency, most people ''are going to be on their own for possibly 48 to 72 hours,'' says David Paulison of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
 
Where can I get more information?
FEMA has a 100-plus-page manual, Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness. The American Red Cross and state and county governments also have disaster-preparedness information.