What is a Chemical/Biological Threat?
Chemical/Biological threats are an ever-growing concern in our modern societies. Whether it's a terrorist with an aerosol can full of weaponized Anthrax gas or a large-scale dirty-bomb detonated by a rival sovereign state, the threat is here and the threat is real!
Biological agents rarely cause immediate effects and the priorities during such a release should be to locate and quarantine any affected people. Chemical agents usually entail immediate effects and your immediate priority should be to limit the intake of such an agent.
A chemical weapon is an agent which uses a manufactured chemical to kill people. The most feared chemical agents include Sarin, VX, Mustard and Lewisite Gas.
A biological weapon uses a bacteria or virus to kill people. The most feared biological agents include Anthrax, Smallpox, Botulin Toxin and the Ebola Virus.
The three most likely ways of spreading a chemical/biological agent during an attack would be through the air, through the water supply or through the food supply.
Classes of Chemical Weapon Agents
It will be extremely unlikely that you will be able to learn or estimate which agent has been used immediately following a chemical/biological attack so attempting to diagnose any cases or formulate or gain access to an antidote will be extremely unlikely. What is most important is that you limit your chances of encountering such an agent following its release.
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to increase your chances of survival if you are caught in the midst of such a threat and steps which can be taking following such an attack.
Here are two brief preventative measures which can be applied to large inner-city buildings and/or potential targets for the release of a chemical biological agent.
1. Prevent access to a building's ventilation system and plans pertaining to the ventilation system. The ventilation system would be a terrorist's primary target should he wish to spread an airborne agent through a building.
2. Plan and practice separate emergency response procedures for indoor and outdoor releases of chemical/biological agents. Should the agent be released outdoors, the priorities should include shutting down the building's ventilation system and closing and sealing all doors and windows. For an indoor release priorities should include containing the threat and evacuating personnel.
Monitor reputable news sources on your television or radio to learn of attacks as they happen and give yourself a head-start in preparing for the worst. Remember however your government may enforce a media blackout to prevent widespread panic! Secondly, listen and follow any information released by your government relating to an attack which has just taken place.
Work out quickly where an attack has taken place and if the agent is airborne, work out wind direction and speed and use a pre-formulated escape route if necessary.
Do NOT head towards the epicentre of an attack and follow any instructions regarding quarantine if you find yourself within a zone of attack. Emergency services should already have been dispatched and if an antidote is immediately available it will most likely be carried by government personnel close to the epicentre of the attack. Trying to evacuate AFTER exposure to certain agents may limit your chances of survival.
Purchase and have access to a high-quality gasmask and in possible a full NBC suit. Such items could save your life if accessed quickly following the release of a chemical/biological agent.
If the threat is airborne and if evacuation is impossible then you must remain in your home and seal it off from any approaching chemical/biological agent. A good supply of duct-tape and plastic covering is essential and should be used to seal areas around windows and doors and cover any vents which draw in external air. Any other sources of outside air should also be covered and sealed.
Many of the same rules regarding conventional warfare apply here and it is advisable to have a good supply of food and bottled water located around the house and listen carefully to news broadcasts in case the enemy has targeted the municipal water supply.