The Individual's Role

The idea of a terrorist or other violent attack is frightening. We may feel there is nothing the private citizen can do to help.

But there have been cases across the country where information from the public has helped prevent a violent crime, or has led officials to those responsible.

And as in any emergency, if we have planned ahead and can take care of ourselves and our families, it allows responders to focus their efforts on helping those more vulnerable.

Build an emergency plan with your family

Think about what could happen at home or away, what you might need for supplies, where you would go if you had to leave your home, and most of all, how to communicate with each other.

Make sure your plan includes how you will communicate with each other in an emergency

Families can be spread out across the globe these days. In an emergency, landline and cell phone networks may be unreliable. Set up texting and other ways to stay in touch, and practice, practice, practice. When you do connect, keep calls short to help keep lines open for responders and others.

Be aware of your surroundings

Be alert to anything in public places, your neighborhood, workplace surroundings or along your commute route that seems out of place. Those who are most familiar with an area are more likely to notice things out of the ordinary.

If you see something, say something

If you believe you have seen or heard something suspicious, report it to security or law enforcement. Be clear and accurate with your information.

Stay informed

This applies both before or during an actual event. Keep abreast of any concerns in your area or industry. Know how your community would alert you in an emergency. During an event, stay tuned to official information and recommendations.

Be sure of your information

Information flies around the world in seconds, and most of it, especially early in an event, is not accurate. Be responsible in what your share via social media, making sure it is official and accurate information. But do share official safety instructions, especially with those who may not see the news, or use social media.