In April 2013, two explosions rocked the United States. The first came in Boston on April 15, when two bombs planted by rogue terrorists at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured hundreds more. The second followed only days later when a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, exploded killing 15 people and injuring more than 200, according to authorities.
“Both explosions are going to be big investigations, even if the explosion in West was an accident, because a blast that size will create a massive crime scene,” said Preparis X-force member Bill Hildebrand, a certified Homeland Security expert and former Atlanta Police Department investigator. “From where they find the last piece of fragment from the explosion, they will double that to create the crime scene radius. So for example, if a piece of debris was found 300 yards from the explosion point, the crime scene will be 600 yards.”
While these two incidents differ in nature, preparation and response following an explosion is similar. Here are a few tips on proper explosion protocols:
Preparing for an explosion
Pay attention to your surroundings. Note escape routes and report any suspicious activity, unattended packages or strange-looking devices to security officials. Never accept packages from strangers and be mindful to not leave your belongings unattended. Of course, some explosions can happen quite unexpectedly and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for them. An example of this would be exploding vape cartridges.
After an explosion
Explosive devices may contain biological, radiological or chemical agents. You should treat every explosion as though it has a radiological element unless you know the cause (for example, a transformer exploding) or until you are told otherwise by the authorities. When responding, consider time, distance and shielding.
1. Time – Remove yourself as fast as possible from the source of the explosion.
2. Distance – Distance yourself as far as possible from the source of the explosion.
3. Shielding – Shield yourself behind a thick barrier that will provide protection from the source of radiation.
After a blast, there will be debris and dust at the affected spot, making it dangerous to breathe. So, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth-like material to avoid inhaling harmful particles while exiting the area. Don’t take elevators and always opt for the stairs instead. Once you are outside, move upwind and call 911.
Even if you think it is safe, don’t return to the building unless proper authorities give you clearance.
If you become trapped under debris
While your first instinct may be to struggle to get out of the debris, you should refrain from unnecessary movement and shouting to avoid stirring up and inhaling dust. Keep breathing through the cloth material and alert your rescuers with a flashlight or whistle or by tapping on the wall or pipe.
If a fire breaks out
Continue to evacuate, crawling low to the ground if there is smoke. If possible, wet the material you’re using to breathe through and cover your nose and mouth.
If you have to go through a door, check its temperature with the back of your hand and DON’T ever open a hot door. If the door feels cool, open it slowly with your body behind the door and don’t peek into the room.
For more information about proper emergency response, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 404.662.2950. Be sure to follow Preparis on Facebook and Twitter plus check back on the blog for more of practical steps to emergency preparedness.