Tips for enhancing personal safety, reducing fear
(CNN) -- According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, terrorists often use threats to create fear and convince citizens their government is powerless to prevent terrorism.
"Success is contingent upon (terrorists) having an impact of creating fear, hence the term, terrorism," says William Waugh, professor of public administration and urban studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, and an expert on international and domestic terrorism. Waugh is the author of "Terrorism and Emergency Management" and "Living with Hazards, Dealing with Disasters."
"Because of that, they tend to select symbolic targets, they don't often randomly attack people on the street," he says. "They find things that are symbolically American, like government buildings, large corporations and other possibilities."
The public can reduce their fear by gaining knowledge and assessing their actual level of risk, he says.
"Most of us really don't have a great deal of risk at this point, including the anthrax incidents, that is threatening the American people," he says. "I'm still more afraid of the traffic, and the traditional hazards we live with every day."
The following FEMA tips list what citizens need to know about terrorism to stay informed and possibly prevent a terrorist attack.
1. Learn about the nature of terrorism (FEMA backgrounder)
Targets can international airports, large cities, major events, resorts and landmarks or other visible locations where terrorists can avoid detection before or after the attack.
2. Learn about the different types of terrorist tactics
These could include kidnappings, hijackings, the use of explosives, arson or chemical or biological agents.
3. Prepare to deal with a terrorist incident by adapting many of the same techniques used to prepare for other crises
Be alert and aware of your surroundings. There may be little or no warning prior to an act of terrorism. Watch for suspicious behavior (Read the tips)
Take precautions when traveling. Do not accept packages from strangers and do not leave personal belongings or luggage unattended
Learn where emergency exits are located in public areas such as buildings or subways. Know where staircases are located
Be aware of heavy or breakable objects in your immediate surroundings that could move, fall or break in an explosion
4. Learn first aid. Contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross for information
5. Pay more attention to the media, Waugh suggests. If something occurs, you'll be aware of information that could help you avoid a dangerous situation, he says.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Homeland Security Actions
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