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On The Razor�s Edge (Pt 1)

Today, when we face the permanent terrorist threat, we�re so vulnerable as never before. We can expect everything from the terrorist bastards. We live on the razor�s edge.

Here we�ll discuss how to make our lives more safe, more secure. We have to prepare ourselves to the possible terrorist attacks aiming not to turn into their victims.

The initial point of your self-defense is the elaboration of your family emergency plan. First, if the terrorist attack happened, you have to recognize immediate the kind of attack to react properly. Chemical, biological or radiological weapons may be involved as well as the conventional terrorist methods.

Chemical attack assumes the use either of commercial poisonous substances (chlorine, hydrochloric acid, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, amines, etc) or of battle poisonous agents (sarin, soman, VX, mustard gas, etc). Chemical attacks involve poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids or compounds. Terrorist might use various techniques of spreading poisonous substances: aircraft pulverization, missiles, bombs, mined cars/trucks with poisonous agents, ventilation systems of the major city buildings/shopping centers, chemical plant explosion, etc. Effect of chemical attack can be immediate or last over several days. The overall efficiency of chemical attack is mainly determined by the poison spreading technique. If you realize that the chemical attack happened near, first, don�t fall into panic and start immediately to seek a shelter. Symptoms of chemical attack include blurred vision or eye irritation, difficulty breathing and nausea. If terrorist attack take place in subway of building, only the quick escape to the open air can save your life. If chemical attack involves poisonous substances spreading out of doors (chemical plant explosion, aircraft pulverization, etc), keep indoors. It�s better to stay into the house for a while (one-two days till the wind and sunlight will scatter poisonous substances) than try to leave dangerous area by car or another kind of transport. Thoroughly cover all the windows, doors and vents by plastic films and adhesive tape to prevent poisons from seeping in. You can use concentrated hydrogen peroxide (widespread and cheap chemical) to regenerate oxygen atmosphere in house. Just place liquid hydrogen peroxide in an open can, add small amount of simple catalyst (manganese dioxide, or iron powder, or even your saliva), and it will start work. A couple of liters of 35% hydrogen peroxide will be sufficient to keep an oxygen-rich atmosphere in a small house for a day. Provide your family with a gas masks. Qualitative filter gas mask can protect yourself either from commercial poisonous substances (chlorine, formaldehyde, ammonia, etc) or from battle poisons (sarin, soman).

Biological attack assumes the spreading of dangerous bacteria, viruses or natural toxins that cause human deaths, perilous diseases, epidemics. Biological attack may be realized in many different ways and can have diverse consequences: from local disaster leading to several injuries or deaths (as in the case of anthrax-infected letters in 2001) to the catastrophe of the national and even international scale. Terrorists may carry out biological attack by infecting foodstuff or water-supply, by spraying viruses into the open air or big ventilation systems, by infecting animals, by sending infected parcels/letters, by spreading bacteria and viruses in a sewer systems or by contacting infected terrorists-kamikaze with citizens. Effects of bacteria and viruses may not be apparent for weeks; effects of toxins can be immediate. Anthrax and smallpox are considered nowadays as the most probable bio-terrorist weapons.

Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that has the ability to produce spores. These spores are similar to plant seeds in that they can survive in a dormant form for many years and can produce living bacteria in the suitable conditions, as they come into contact with an animal or human. Many symptoms of anthrax are the same as those of common viral upper respiratory infections. The symptoms of anthrax are the following: fever, chills, weakness, headache, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, internal hemorrhage and reddish-brown skin lesions. This may occur several days or even weeks after an exposure. Statistics say that ~80% of patients with inhalational anthrax die. It is noteworthy that anthrax is not spread from person to person. Anthrax is can be treated by the prolonged use of antibiotics.

Smallpox is a disease caused by virus variola major. Unlike anthrax, it spreads from person to person (via droplets that come from an infected person�s mouth or nose or from direct contact/contacts with infected clothes, etc). Smallpox has two-week incubation period. The symptoms of smallpox: fever, fatigue, rash, headache, backache. The rash strikes first the mouth and throat, face and arms, and then spreads to the chest, back and legs. Deaths usually occur in the second week of the illness. Unfortunately, there�s no proven treatment for smallpox. Only the prior people�s vaccination can prevent the illness.

To be continued�