Terrorism can be defined as the use of violence and intimidation in order to coerce a particular goal which is usually political. Terrorism can be international or domestic. Terrorists are the only predators that want attention drawn to them. They want media coverage and if they don’t get it, they will often call authorities and claim responsibility for an attack. Terrorists prefer to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  The FBI has identified 5 categories of WMDs: Nuclear, Chemical, Biological, Incendiaries, and Explosives. These 5 categories are all likely forms of attacks by terrorists. Additionally a terrorist may try to cause mass panic by such means as trying to take out communications networks, cutting off supply lines, or taking out vital utilities. In short, no one can predict where, how, or even when a terrorist attack will occur. This does not mean we are completely defenseless or unable to protect ourselves.

The keys to protecting ourselves from terrorism are education and preparedness. Anti-Terrorism 101: A Primer for Protection by L. Thome is a short book that is full of information which helps educate the reader about what can be expected from the government in terms of protection and what is individual responsibility for protection. There is no way I could completely comment on all of the information available in this book. The book was written shortly after 9-11-01 so some of its information is dated, but it still has plenty to offer the reader. This book helps the reader analyze personal and business risks and then take protective actions.


I believe that most of the suggestions made in the book about personal preparedness and safety are still valuable today. Creating a survival kit should be a priority. This is a matter of expecting the best, but preparing for the worst.

A survival kit should include such items as:

  • a first aid kit-complete with scissors and tweezers
  • chlorine bleach for water purification (or iodine tablets)
  • a fire extinguisher
  • wrenches and other tools
  • emergency supplies of nonperishable food and water (one gallon per person per day)
  • additional food and water for pets
  • a portable, battery operated radio & extra batteries
  • flashlights & extra batteries and bulbs
  • candles & matches (do not use if a gas leak is suspected)
  • heavy tape and large plastic trash bags
  • extra blankets
  • backup supplies of prescription medications, eyeglasses, & personal products (soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc)
  • paper map of your state
  • camping & outdoor survival equipment if you must leave your home
  • important family records & an inventory of household items (for insurance purposes)
  • cash

The Red Cross suggests having a two week supply of food and survival items on hand in the event of natural disasters or other emergencies. Other agencies and survivalists say you should stockpile supplies to last from 6 months to a year. Be sure to rotate supplies  and stock the newest items in the back so you aren’t caught with expired products if you choose to keep items for this long. Having one or more generators available is also a good idea.

In the event of an actual emergency, you should be able to receive instructions over the emergency broadcast system by either radio or TV (if it’s working). It is also important that your family has a plan about where to meet should you get separated from each other.

There is so much more information available in this book that I encourage you to at least skim through it.

Lights Out by Ted Koppel is a book that looks at what a potential terrorist attack would look like. In this particular scenario Koppel takes a look at what could happen if a terrorist targeted one of the major power grids in the United States. He believes that individuals and governmental agencies are not prepared to handle such an event. Throughout the book, he does make some suggestions for correcting the situation which don’t seem too complicated.


One major way to prepare for such an event does seem to be to have a back up supply of nonperishable food items and survival equipment. As it turns out, the Mormons may have the best preparedness plan of anyone in the United States. Those who are members of the Mormon church (also known as The Latter Day Saints) are encouraged to have a well supplied “closet” or pantry. The Mormon closet is a back up food supply to feed their entire family that would last up to a year. Mormons are also highly encouraged by their church to have emergency money set aside for disaster planning. This is actually very good advice for everyone. However, the Mormons really take this concept to the extreme. Not only are individual families stockpiling goods, the entire Mormon community is literally warehousing almost anything you could think of. They have fuel reserves, nonperishable food, perishable meats, cheeses, and other items that would be backed up by huge generators in case of extreme emergency. They have clothing, household items, camping gear, cleaning supplies, medical and first aid items, flashlights, candles, matches, blankets; literally just about anything you can think of they have. The Mormons have their own supply trucks and drivers. They also have buses to evacuate their entire church community and plans where to send them should everyone need to be relocated. If all the Mormon warehouses and various resources were combined, it would make giants like Walmart look like a back road mom & pop store. These people are prepared for just about any disaster imaginable and we can learn a lot from them!

For a photographic tour of some of the Mormon resources, click the link or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2528650/The-super-hoarders-Utah-Inside-huge-warehouses-used-feed-states-insatiable-desire-disaster-preparation.html

In 2005 the Mormon disaster plan outperformed Washington’s own disaster plan in response to Hurricane Katrina. Before the storm actually hit, the LDS church had evacuated all but 7 of it’s approximately 2,500 members in the area. The church had developed an automated telephone warning system that alerted all members of the impending danger, telling them to get out of town, and where they should go. Members were sent to safer areas where other members of the church who were out of harms way were able to assist them or where they could get a safe hotel room. During this time FEMA seemed to be struggling to cope with the situation while the Mormons were calm and orderly. The evacuation (at least of the church members) went smoothly. Ten fully loaded trucks were dispatched by the Latter Day Saints  and contained sleeping bags, tarps to cover wrecked roofs, bottled water and 5 gallon drums of gasoline. Supplies were calmly handed out to people who needed them. The Mormons not only got all but 7 of their members to safety, but they also sent relief teams to help others in the path of the storm.  (The 7 members who were not evacuated were left there to serve on the relief/rescue teams.) While the Mormon response to Hurricane Katrina was extremely impressive, they can’t be expected to rescue the entire country in the event of a truly catastrophic event. Our government and individual families can learn much from the Mormon example.

Overall, Lights Out, is a book to make us think. While I found much of it to be alarmist in nature, it does make some very valid points. I think it’s a book definitely worth taking a look at and can help us to bring about some balance in our own preparedness approach. This book is a way to try to help prepare us for the worst case scenario while we are still hoping for the best. I think this book would actually make a great movie!

Do you have a preparedness plan? Have you put together any type of disaster emergency kit?