Although the emphasis in this book is on defenses that should be undertaken by the government, current indications are that the government is more likely to react than to initiate defensive measures. For example, it seems unlikely that respirators will be made available to the general public until after we have suffered a major attack using gas or an aerosolized pathogen. It would therefore be wise for individuals to take precautionary measures and to advise others to do the same. The following is a list of measures to be taken and key items that individuals might procure to protect themselves and family members.
1. Because most serious pestilences can be aerosolized, we must have protection against unfiltered air during a bioterrorist attack. Direct contact with outside air should be avoided in the first 1–2 days after an attack. Second, and of the utmost importance, at least one respirator should always be on hand. This means either carrying it around if you have only one or keeping one at home and the other at your workplace. A half mask covers the nose and mouth; a full mask protects the eyes as well. The mask should have replaceable filters that do not permit the passage of bacteria such as anthrax. Several filter replacements should be on hand for each mask. Consult the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at 800-356-4674 or http://www.cdc.gov/niosh for information on proper masks and filters.
2. A portable radio will help you stay informed. Maintain a supply of extra batteries.
3. A flashlight is important, in case of a power outage. Again, keep extra batteries on hand.
4. In an emergency, elevators or other forms of transportation that rely on electricity should be not be used.