In March of 1995, members of a so-called “Doomsday Cult,” known as “The Supreme Truth,” released a toxin in a Japanese subway that sickened 6,000 people and sowed panic during the morning commute. The attack woke up a relatively safe country to the risk of urban terrorism, and the reality of terrorists using poison gas or other chemical weapons. Thirteen people were killed in the Japan subway attack, by what has since been identified as sarin gas. Sarin is a chemical weapon classifieds as a weapon of mass destruction.
Japanese officials eventually captured the terrorists involved and put them to death. When their compound was raided, other chemical agents including VX nerve gas and botulinum toxin were found.
Hamas has used chemical attacks in Israel, according to the CIA, nails and bolts packed into explosives detonated by a Hamas suicide bomber in a December 2001 attack in Jerusalem were soaked in rat poison. American and Israeli intelligence uncovered Hamas plans to use suicide bombers with devices containing cyanide. Al-Qaeda had long been plotting chemical attacks, which were thwarted by US intelligence, and chemical attacks by ISIS continue in Syria to this day.
Terrorists could use a direct chemical attack, as in these events, or, in a more serious scenario, could attack a chemical plant or chemical storehouse, blowing it up, resulting in a release of toxins that could cause massive chaos and havoc.
What to Do in the Event of Chemical Attack
- If at all possible, quickly try to define the impacted area or where the chemical is coming from, and 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.
- If you can’t get out of the building or find clean air without passing through the area where you see signs of a chemical attack, it may be better to move as far away as possible and shelter-in-place.
If you are instructed to remain in your home or office building, you should:
- Close doors and windows and turn off all ventilation, including furnaces, air conditioners, vents, and fans.
- Seek shelter in your internal room, the highest in the house, and take your disaster supplies kit.
- Seal the room with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
- Listen to your radio for instructions from authorities.
- If you are in an area where chemical or biological attack seems likely, it is a good idea to include a gas mask, or other biohazard protection gear in your emergency supplies.
If you are caught in or near a contaminated area, you should:
- Move away immediately in a direction upwind of the source.
- Find shelter as quickly as possible.
- If you are outside, quickly decide what is the fastest way to find clean air. Consider if you can get out of the area or if you should go inside the closest building and shelter-in-place.
- Do not leave the safety of a shelter to go outdoors to help others until authorities announce it is safe to do so.
If you are in a contaminated area, you may need to rely longer on your stored rations then you’d expect, as plants and animal in the area may also be contaminated – so use your stored food with that in mind.
In future posts we will discuss how to survive a nuclear or biological attack.
Written by Mike F. Strong
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