Man-made disasters fall into two categories: terrorism, which is a deliberate, criminal act; and accidental disasters involving hazardous materials and transportation accidents.
Accidental Man-made Disasters
Emergency management experts agree that transportation-related accidents probably pose the biggest threat to the Baltimore region. Traffic carrying hazardous materials moves through our area every day, via highways and rail lines. Significant air traffic flies over us. Even accidents involving ordinary cars and trucks can cause a sizable emergency. And fires can escalate into disasters, depending on their size and location.
Make sure you understand what it means to shelter in place and to evacuate. In the event of an accident involving hazardous materials, your safety will depend on following instructions from first responders about whether to stay or go.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives."
Terrorists use a variety of methods to achieve their ends:
Biological weapons are generally divided into either replicating (infectious) agents, or non-replicating (non-infecting or intoxicating) agents. Replicating agents are pathogenic bacteria, viruses or fungus. Non-replicating agents are produced from replicating agents, other living organisms and plants and are called "toxins".
There are two fundamentally different threats in the area of nuclear terrorism. One is the use, threatened use, or threatened detonation of a nuclear bomb. The other is the detonation, or threatened detonation, of a conventional explosive incorporating nuclear materials (radiological dispersal devices, also called RDD.
An incendiary device is any mechanical, electrical or chemical device used intentionally to initiate combustion and start a fire.
Chemical weapons are defined as compounds that, through their chemicals properties, produce lethal or damaging effects in man, animal, plants or materials. They exist as solids, liquids or gas and are classified by their effects: nerve, blood, choking or blister agents.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) defines an explosive as a substance fitting into one of two categories: Any substance or article, including a device, designed to function by explosion (e.g., an extremely rapid release of gas and heat), or
Any substance or article, including a device, which by chemical reaction within itself, can function in a similar manner even if not designed to function by explosion, unless the substance or article is otherwise classified.
For more detailed information about the various types of terrorism, visit www.ready.gov
National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS)
The National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) communicates information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs and the private sector.
It recognizes that Americans all share responsibility for the nation's security. We should be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and know what we should do.
Revised June 23, 2011