Be prepared. Just in case. 


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Be prepared. Just in case.

In the age of terrorist attacks, that advice isn't just for children. Law enforcement officials, raising the threat level Friday, handed it out to parents in particular. A little advance planning, they say, could protect families and property if an attack knocks out access to home, food and money. (Reasons for level increase)

First on any to-do list: "Take the time now to get informed," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge saidl.

Ridge specifically urged Americans to arrange a way for family members to contact each other--such as through an out-of-town relative-- and designate a meeting place in case telephone service is knocked out by an attack.

"I think it would make family members a lot more comfortable if they knew they were able to get in touch with one another in the event something happened," Ridge told reporters.

Americans with more time to prepare might check out the government's guidelines on assembling a "disaster plan" taking other steps to protect people and property at nominal expense. Such a guide can be found at


Top tips include:

• Identify two meeting places: One near home and the second away from the neighborhood in case home cannot be approached.

• Find out the emergency response plans of employers, school, daycare and other officials. To where would they evacuate workers and students? Write down the answers and keep a copy in your wallet.

• Keep life, property, health and other insurance policies current, and know their terms. Store copies of these and other important documents -- identification, deeds, wills, a small amount of cash -- in a watertight container.

• Have a plan for pets, since shelters do not allow them.

• Assemble a "disaster supply kit" and keep it in a designated place where it is ready to "grab and go." It should include bottled water, food and emergency supplies, perhaps kept in backpacks or duffel bags.

• With guidance from doctor or pharmacist, store prescription drugs and an extra set of prescription glasses.

• First aid kit.


American Red Cross Homeland Security Advisory System Recommendations for Individuals, Families, Neighborhoods, Schools, and Businesses

The White House issued Homeland Security Directive-3, in March 2002, which established five threat conditions for possible terrorist attack: Green = Low; Blue = Guarded; Yellow = Elevated; Orange = High; and Red = Severe.

General explanations were given for preparedness activities for each level, but these were intended mainly for government agencies. Across the country questions of “What does a condition ‘yellow’ mean to me or my family? or What does this mean to a business or school?” remained. The American Red Cross recognized the need and developed a complementary set of guidelines for the following areas:

Click here for a Spanish Version of the Recommendations.


Additional Materials and Resources for Use with the Homeland Security Advisory System and American Red Cross Recommendations

American Red Cross materials dealing with terrorism and unexpected events

Visit the on-line listing of available publications. Click on "Publications" then "Community Disaster Education" to get to lists of available materials such as:


  1. American Red Cross Chapters can provide these materials and others at no cost or a nominal fee, depending on the item
  2. Items with an (S) are available in Spanish
  3. Many of the items listed on the public website are available in Spanish and other languages and available to be ordered in brochure form
  4. The materials listed in this document are not meant to be the sole source of preparedness information for the American public


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