Here, we discuss the most likely scenarios, the ones for which our first responders prepare every day. Remember that an attack could affect you even if it happens in another borough or many neighborhoods away from you. (Just like a train signal problem in the Bronx can lead to a subway delay in Manhattan.)
By staying informed via Notify NYC and making your preparedness plan using Ready NYC, you can help yourself and others if there is an attack.
For more detailed information about terrorist attacks, consult the extensive resources at:
Here are some of the situations New Yorkers may encounter.
In an active shooter situation, the NYPD advises that you:
- Avoid (Run)
Get away from the shooter if you can.
- Barricade (Hide)
If you can’t get away, get into a closed room — no windows — and lock the door. Try to block that door with furniture or a chair so it’s harder to get in.
- Confront (Fight)
If you and others are in the open with nowhere to hide and no way out, use what you can to defend yourself — throw things, etc. — until first responders arrive.
- Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.
- View Ready Houston video “Run, Hide, Fight”
Many terrorist events have used explosives of various types and sizes, using cars or buildings, trains and aircraft, as on 9/11.
If there is a building explosion:
- Get out ASAP.
- Do NOT use elevators.
- If you can’t get out, hide under a sturdy desk or table.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth or clothing.
- Don’t move too much; that kicks up dust which is bad for you to breathe.
- Use a flashlight to see what’s around you. Plus, you can use it to signal rescuers.
- Tap on a pipe or a wall so rescuers can hear you; use a whistle if you can. Shout only if you must so you don’t breathe too much of the dangerous dust.
- Beware of fires.
A cyberattack might not be obvious as an explosion. It can mean that a hacker is using your computer to infiltrate others’ or another network, or accessing your personal information.
Have you experienced a cyberattack? There are some basic things you can do to protect your personal information.
- Set strong passwords. Don’t use “password” or “1234”.
- Use privacy settings, especially on social media channels like Facebook.
- Limit personal information you post online.
A biological attack may occur in a smaller physical area than other hazards. Use Notify NYC alerts to stay aware of any biological or chemical attacks.
While there are dozens of possible threats, we’ve focused here on the most likely.
Types of Possible Attacks:
- Brucellosis: Joint pain, fever, chills, belly pain, cough.
- Botulism: Difficulty swallowing or speaking, facial paralysis.
- Plague: Swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches.
- Smallpox: Flu-like symptoms, a skin rash across face, hands, forearms and trunk.
- Tularemia: A skin ulcer at point of contact with infected animal or site of a bite; swollen lymph nodes, severe headache.
- Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis): Fever, malaise, fatigue, cough and mild chest discomfort, followed by severe respiratory distress.
- Hemorrhagic fever (Ebola, Marburg, etc): Malaise, myalgias, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea, may also include a macular dermatologic eruption.
To be prepared:
- Keep a family medical history.
- Be aware of symptoms of certain threats (anthrax, smallpox, etc.).
In a chemical attack, poisonous agents could be dispersed through the air, water or solid material. They can be released through bombs, aircraft, or other vehicles. While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to produce and disperse quickly.
If you are near or at the site of a chemical attack:
- Find ways to cover skin and nose/mouth.
- Get out, away from the toxic material.
- If you can’t get out, get to an interior room; try to tape the windows and doors shut to keep airborne chemicals out.
- Turn off air conditioners and internal venting/air circulation systems.
- If you are contaminated, once you reach a clean area, decontaminate ASAP.
- Stay tuned to alerts from Notify NYC
Terrorists are more likely to use a radiological dispersive device, or a “dirty bomb”, than a nuclear bomb. Radiological devices use conventional bomb devices with radioactive material. They are designed to cover a wide area with dangerous radioactive material. These devices are meant to be disruptive to the economy and cause psychological distress.
If a radiological device is detonated in New York, take the following steps in the affected area:
- Find ways to cover skin and nose/mouth.
- Get inside a building.
- Stay inside.
- Stay tuned to alerts from Notify NYC and emergency officials.
- Decontaminate: After removing your clothing, you should take a warm shower.
- Wash your hair, but don’t use conditioners because they can bind radioactive material to hair protein, making decontamination more difficult.
- Change into clean clothes.