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Office of Emergency Management



Terrorists are not in charge

Earthquakes, floods and wildfires are frightening experiences for most of us.

Fear is a natural human reaction to disasters and other events that hit suddenly and seem to threaten our safety, our loved ones, and our daily lives.

Terrorists use this natural reaction to multiply the effect of their actions in order to advance their political or social goals. Like bullies in the schoolyard, terrorists want to intimidate and frighten others to get their own way.  Governmental officials are working hard to find terrorists and to limit their ability to harm Americans.

At the same time, there is a lot that each of us can do to limit the terrorists’ ability to frighten us.

The terrorists are not in charge. We have control over our peace of mind and can help ensure our safety by taking some of the same actions that we would take to prepare for earthquakes, floods, or fires. We can also contribute to the safety of others by becoming more aware of our surroundings and reporting suspicious activities or items to local officials.

What You Can Do Now

Preparing for terrorist attacks is the same as preparing for earthquakes, fires, and other emergencies.  It all starts with: 

Get a Kit

Have a Plan

Be Informed

What You Can Do During an Attack


Terrorists are counting on surprise, fear, and confusion to add to the impact of their actions.  If you realize an attack is underway, gather all your strength to pause and think.  Look around you to see what is happening, and what immediate steps you can take to protect yourself and others.

  • If there is flying debris, drop down; take cover under something sturdy, and hold on to it with one hand while protecting your head and neck with the other.
  • If there is smoke, get near the floor, cover your mouth and nose with a cloth, and move carefully toward the nearest marked exit.  If it is necessary to evacuate, try to do so calmly. Use only marked exits and stairways.  Never use elevators.
  • Help others who are moving more slowly or who may be disoriented.

What You Can Do After an Attack

If you are not directly affected by the attack, try to stay calm, think before you act, encourage others, and comfort children.

  • Turn on news radio or television, and listen for official instructions.  If officials tell you to “Shelter in Place,” they mean for you to stay inside your home, vehicle or workplace until it is safe to come out.  They will provide you with detailed instructions.  Do not leave your sheltered location or return to the evacuated area until local officials confirm that it is safe to do so.
  • Implement your family emergency plan, and notify your out-of-state contact of your location and status.
  • Be aware of the psychological impact that terrorism can inflict, even when it happens to people you do not know personally.


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200 Santa Monica Pier, Suite J, Santa Monica, CA 90401