Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom.

Terrorists bypass established institutions (such as courts), using violence against citizens to force changes in society and force governments to change policies toward their cause.


Terrorists might use weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction include toxic or poisonous chemicals, biological disease organisms, dangerous radiation, explosive incendiary or poison gas bombs, grenades, rockets or missiles, mines or similar devices. Terrorists also use traditional weapons such as automatic guns or grenades in armed attacks on targets.

Taking preparatory action can reassure you and your children that you can exert a measure of control even in the face of such events.


The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) is a robust terrorism advisory system that provides timely information to the public about credible terrorist threats and replaces the former color-coded alert system.

NTAS threat alerts will be issued for a specific time period and will automatically expire. Alerts may be extended if new information becomes available or as a specific threat evolves.

Learn more by reading the public guide to the National Terrorism Advisory System.


Most importantly, stay calm, be patient and think before you act. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.

  • Be aware of your surroundings; report suspicious activity to prevent a terrorist attack.

  • Move or leave if you feel uncomfortable or if something does not seem right.

  • Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of conspicuous or unusual behavior.

  • Do not accept packages from strangers and do no not leave luggage unattended.


  • Get under a sturdy table or desk if things are falling around you. When they stop falling, leave quickly, watching for obviously weakened floors and stairways.

  • Leave the building as quickly as possible. Do not use elevators.

  • Check for fire and other hazards.

  • Once you are out, do not stand in front of windows, glass doors or other potentially hazardous areas.

  • Move away from sidewalks or streets to be used by emergency officials or others still exiting the building.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand. (Dense-weave cotton material can act as a good filter. Try to breathe through the material.)


If you receive a telephoned bomb threat, you should do the following:

  • Get as much information from the caller as possible. Try to ask the following questions:

  • When is the bomb going to explode? What will cause it to explode?

  • What does it look like? What kind of bomb is it?

  • Where is it right now? Did you place the bomb?

  • Keep the caller on the line and record everything that is said.

Notify the police and building management immediately.


Be wary of suspicious packages and letters. They can contain explosives, chemical or biological agents. Some typical characteristics postal inspectors have detected over the years, which ought to trigger suspicion, include parcels that:

  • Are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.

  • Have no return address or one that can't be verified as legitimate.

  • Are marked with restrictive words such as "Personal," "Confidential," or "Do not X-ray."

  • Have protruding wires or aluminum foil, strange odors or stains.

  • Have excessive postage or packaging material, such as masking tape and string.

  • Are of unusual weight given their size or are lopsided or oddly shaped.

  • Are marked with threatening language.

  • Have misspellings of common words.

  • Have incorrect titles or titles without a name. Are not addressed to a specific person.

  • If you are at work, report the incident to your building security official or an available supervisor, who should notify police and other authorities without delay.

    • List all people who were in the room or area when this suspicious letter or package was recognized.

    • Give a copy of this list to both the local public health authorities and law enforcement officials for follow-up investigations and advice.

  • If you are at home, report the incident to local police.