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So What Is the Emergency Plan?

On Monday, the FBI issued a new terrorism warning, asking Americans and law enforcement to be on the highest alert for possible attacks this week. But since the alert was not specific as to the intended targets, plain civilians are wondering what steps to take to keep safe.

The Early Show invited Kate Kelly, author of Living Safe in an Unsafe World: The Complete Guide to Family Preparedness, to tell us how to prepare for a terrorist attack.

The following emergency plan has a few of her suggestions for what supplies to stockpile and how to communicate with various family members. It basically follows the same methods the Red Cross has always used to handle disasters.

You need to stockpile certain supplies. Pack one duffel bag with food, one with emergency supplies, one with extra clothing. You should also have water stored in plastic bottles.

Food

It's important to emphasize there are two occurrences you could have with a disaster. One situation is: You're trapped in your house or have to stay there for a certain amount of time. The second is that you have to suddenly evacuate your home. In either case, you want to make sure you're stocked up on food, water, and medicine.

For the most part, most people already have enough food on hand even without consciously thinking about stocking up. But you're going to want to have extra food you like. Canned fruit and soups are good (store well). Plus you should have a manual can opener in the house in case you lose power. If that is the case, you can start eating food from the fridge and freezer (within reason) and then head for the canned stuff.

It's best that as you buy more groceries, you rotate the newer canned goods to the back shelf, where your emergency stash is, and eat the older stuff. You should have enough water for 3 days and you should have 3 gallons per person. It's best to put the water in plastic bottles. Store the bottles in a dark place and refill them every 6 months.

It's also good to stockpile about 3-4 days of medications you regularly take. You can discuss getting extra medicine from your doctor, especially if your child has asthma.

Keep in mind that you want to have something for every member of the family. If you have a baby, you're going to need baby formula. If you have a pet, you're going to need pet food.

Emergency Bag

This should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, matches stored in a waterproof container, medicine, a first aid kit, and a photocopy of your identification.

Communications Plan

Figure out how you're going to stay in touch. You should have a transistor radio to hear news alerts. Have cell phones and an emergency phone list. Often, when you're in an emergency situation, you're likely to blank out and not remember phone numbers.

One thing that's become increasingly important because of the recent diaster: Figure out an emergency contact outside the area. Sometimes you might not be able to reach people in your community but you will be able to find your Aunt Ida in Iowa.

If you have kids, remember that in some instances, they may need to be held at school. So assure your kids that this can be okay and that they should listen to their teachers. Also, every kid's backpack should have that out-of-area contact. So, they have another option besides calling home.

Parents need to reassure kids that we are basically in a safe community. The preparations we're making are just in case. It's not as if we're expecting anything to happen.

Another way to coordinate plans should a disaster strike is to post them on a Web site. So you can your community's site in addition to listening and watching the news.

Don't make phone calls unless you need to. Don't just call people to say, "Have you heard?" Reserve your calls for asking, "Are you safe?"

First Aid Kit

Make sure you have one that contains a first aid manual, sterile adhesive bandages and gauze, scissors, hydrogen peroxide, hypoallergenic adhesive tape, pain reliever and antacids, a snakebite kit, tweezers, antiseptic spray, ointments for cuts and burns, and latex gloves.

You should always have an extra pair of walkable shoes at work. Slip-on sneakers are the best. They can save you precious time because they don't require tying.

In Case of Chemical Attack

If you must stay home, choose one room of the house where everyone will go should there be a chemical attack. Make sure that room has access to water. The master bedroom might be a good choice. Do an extra level of covering on the windows and seal it with duct tape.

As soon as you hear about a chemical attack, go into this safety room unless you're told to evacuate. Bring all of your prepacked supplies. Shut the door, cover the windows, and put a towel under the door. Turn off any source of air coming in.

It helps to have all of this stuff in one designated box or place before you actually need it. That way you only have one item to grab instead of scurrying to gather everything. You want to be able to move quickly.

If you are outside your home, the true key to dealing with terrorism is helping other people. Don't just hoard the Cipro and worry about yourself. Help others. If you're in a crowded stadium that's being evacuated for an emergency, grab your neighbor's hand and lead them out to safety. If you're at a sports arena and there's an explosion, a lot of people are going to freeze up. But if you're aware and you know what you're doing--you've taken note of the closest exits--you're going to be a lot better off. And helping someone else promotes a calmer exit and a calmer mentality.

If you have to evacuate a building, don't stand around! Get out of the vicinity. What is remarkable about the World Trade Center attacks is how many people got out safelyThat's because they had (safety) drills because of 1993. They paid attention to exits.

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