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Homeland Security

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Protecting Our Society Against Terrorism
Terrorism has changed the world. Nobody is now immune to the threat of attack. Despite the turmoil that terror threats and actions can impose on our way of life, it is vital that we go on living our lives to the fullest. By doing this, we, as citizens, can ensure that our nation stands strong in these times of uncertainty. Having a strong counter-terrorist capability is the highest priority for the United States government and the individual state governments. To this end, many security agencies have been upgraded, the Department of Homeland Security formed, and airport and border security strengthened. All levels of emergency services have increased training to combat terrorism and respond to all levels of possible incidents.

This information is intended to provide you with security tips, information on how you can play your part by being alert, not alarmed, and what to do in the event of an emergency.

Please read this information and help our community as a whole in fighting terror.

Everyone Can Play a Part
Be alert, but not alarmed. There are things we can all do to play our part.

Keep Yourself Informed
All levels of government will use the media (television, radio, newspapers, and the internet) to provide information to the public regarding terror threats. Keeping up to date with this information is very important.

Keep an Eye out for Anything Suspicious
The best people to spot something abnormal in a neighborhood or workplace are those who are there every day. As you go about your daily lives, you should be alert for things that could be out of the ordinary or suspicious. Remember - Be alert, not alarmed.
Even some ordinary activities can be suspicious depending on the circumstances. Be observant. If you see something unusual or suspicious in your neighborhood or workplace, use your judgment and common sense.

If it doesn't add up, call up!
Contact your local law enforcement agency and explain what you have observed. Be as descriptive as you can.

Looking out for Costa Mesa
Terrorism is a new threat for almost everyone. Working together to fight crime is not. By simply being alert, using common sense and good judgment, and reporting suspicious activity, Costa Mesa residents have helped fight drugs, thefts, gangs, and other illegal activity.

Terrorists rely on surprise, so we cannot predict every possible situation. However, here are some examples of how public vigilance has prevented terrorist acts:

  • Passengers and crew on a transatlantic flight noticed a man acting strangely and prevented him setting off explosives packed in his shoes. This saved the whole flight. He is now in prison for life.
  • A caretaker and cook arriving for work at a British school noticed an unusual package on the grounds. The police were informed, the school was evacuated, and a terrorist bomb-timed to detonate during school hours-was defused.
  • A farmer observed suspicious activity near his property. He reported it and police found a terrorist weapons cache.
  • Following a bomb blast in London, a citizen recalled seeing a truck dumping material on a wasteland. He reported it, and from the items recovered, fingerprints were lifted that identified the bombers.
There are many other examples. Acting on terrorism is very similar to fighting crime.

Be alert, not alarmed. If it doesn't add up, call up!
If you see an unattended package or bag in a public place, with no apparent reason for being there, here's what to do:
  • Ask if anyone owns it
  • If no one does, do not touch it
  • Alert others to keep away
  • If it is a shopping mall or building, alert security
  • Call the police on 911

Possible Signs of Terrorism

Unusual Videotaping or Photography of Buildings or Other Critical Infrastructure
Videotaping is one of the ways that terrorists gather information about a possible target. A major terrorist plot in Singapore was averted when videotapes of the buildings to be attacked, including embassies, were discovered.

Suspicious Vehicles Near Significant Buildings or in Public Places
Terrorists use vehicles for many purposes, from surveillance to planting bombs (such as in Oklahoma City or Bali). Vehicles may be parked for an unusual length of time, sometimes in no-parking areas. Explosives can be heavy, so cars and vans may sit abnormally low on their suspensions. They may have expired registrations or have false or missing plates. There was one recorded incident where an attack was foiled because a vehicle had front and rear plates that did not match.

Suspicious Accommodation Needs
The way terrorists use, rent, and buy accommodation is often suspicious. One British example involved a rented garage that was used as a bomb factory. A resident became suspicious and reported men coming and going wearing rubber gloves. This led to a number of arrests of terrorists who had already attacked Heathrow Airport.

Unusual Purchases or Possession of Fertilizer or Chemicals
Fertilizer is a widely available product that has been used in many terrorist bombs. The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people. One of the clues in that case was a receipt for two tons of fertilizer.

A Lifestyle That Does Not Add Up
While planning an attack, terrorists may lead lives that appear unusual or suspicious. The 9/11 terrorists are classic examples-learning to fly but not wanting to learn how to land. The leader of that group also paid cash for many large purchases such as flight training, accommodation, vehicles, and air tickets.

False or Multiple Identities
Terrorists often use false or stolen documents, including passports and driver licenses. They can also have several identities and may give conflicting details to those with whom they come into contact. One example was an alert bank employee who noticed a series of unusual transactions and identified an account that had been opened in a false name. This was reported to authorities, who uncovered links to a terrorist group.

Heightened Security
Security has been substantially increased at places such as airports, sporting and public events. It can seem to be an inconvenience, but it is important to remember that these measures are in place to protect us.

  • Be patient with lines and delays at security checks
  • Allow extra time for journeys, especially when flying
  • Don't leave bags or packages unattended
What to Do in an Emergency
Knowing what to do in an emergency makes it easier to keep yourself and those around you safe.

General Advice
  • In an emergency, try to remain calm and reassure others.
  • Check for injuries. Attend to your own injuries first so you are then able to help others.
  • Ensure that your family members and neighbors are safe, especially children, the elderly, or those who live alone.
  • Watch your television or listen to the radio for information.
  • Follow the advice of emergency service workers.
  • If it is dark, look for damage using a flashlight. Do not light a match-there could be gas in the air.
  • If you smell gas, turn off the valve and move everyone away from the building.
  • Use a landline to call essential contacts, as cell phone networks may be clogged.
  • Keep your pets inside and keep them safe.
Bomb Explosion
  • Protect yourself from falling debris.
  • If in a damaged structure, move to an open space or protected area as quickly and safely as possible. Don't panic.
  • Do not form or join a crowd-there may be other bombs in the area.
  • Stay away from tall buildings, glass windows, and parked vehicles.
  • Follow the advice of emergency service workers.
  • Contact the police immediately if you observe suspicious behavior before or after the explosion.
Suspicious Package
  • Do not open it.
  • Leave it alone and immediately clear the area.
  • Once away from the package, call 911.
  • Wait in a safe place until emergency service workers arrive and follow their instructions.
  • Stay low to the floor, as smoke and heat rises.
  • Use the emergency exit to get out of the building-do not use the elevator.
  • Check doors before opening them. If they feel hot, there may be fire on the other side.
Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Incident
  • Local emergency services have trained in responding to a chemical, biological, or radiological incident. The likelihood of this type of attack is low based on current intelligence.
  • Stockpiles of antibiotics, vaccines, anti-viral drugs, and chemical antidotes are in place.
  • In a chemical, biological, or radiological incident, the most important thing to remember is to minimize your exposure, then watch your television or listen to the radio and wait for emergency services instructions.
  • It is not possible to give specific instructions for all chemical, biological, or radiological incidents, as what to do will depend on the agent that has been released.
  • If there is a public alert about an incident, authorities may tell you to stay inside, close all doors and windows and turn off air conditioners. Alternatively, you may be told to evacuate the area. Follow the advice of emergency services and always evacuate in the direction they indicate.
Be Prepared: Steps to Take Now
A few commonsense measures are outlined below. You may wish to put them in place.
  • Develop an emergency plan. Decide who in your household will do what in an emergency and make sure everyone knows his or her role, for example, who will check on elderly neighbors or pick up the children from school.
  • Ask someone to be your key contact. Choose an out-of-town friend or relative who is prepared to be a point of contact if the members of your household are separated in an emergency. Make sure everyone, including your key contact, has a full list of your contact details.
  • Find out about your local emergency services. Record the numbers of your local police, fire, and city services, together with gas and electricity suppliers. Check on the best route to the closest emergency room/hospital/doctor.
  • Agree on a meeting place. Decide where your group will meet if an incident prevents you from going home.
  • Know your home. In some emergencies, you may have to turn off your electricity, water, and/or gas. Write down where the main switches and valves are and other information about your home. Pin this on the fridge or in an accessible place.
  • Assemble an emergency kit. Prepare an emergency kit and keep it where you can find it easily. It should include a flashlight, disposable latex gloves, first aid kit, radio with fresh batteries, and copies of personal documents.
Essential First Aid

Key Steps
If someone is injured, these steps will help keep everyone at the scene as safe as possible until professional help arrives.
  • Make sure the situation is safe (e.g., keep clear of power lines, gas, smoke, and fire).
  • If the person is not breathing, remove any blockage to the airway. If you or any bystander has the necessary skills, commence CPR.
  • Attend to severe bleeding or shock, and then care for injuries to muscles, bones, and joints.
  • Monitor the injured person's condition while waiting for professional assistance to arrive.
  • Help the person rest in the most comfortable position and give reassurance.
  • Cover the wound with a dressing or clean cloth and place direct pressure on it.
  • Encourage the person to lie down if necessary.
  • Raise the injured part above the level of the heart, but take great care if you suspect a broken bone.
  • Cover the dressing with a bandage to hold it in place.
  • If the bleeding does not stop, apply additional dressings, pads, and bandages on top of existing ones.
  • Cool the burn with plenty of clean, cold water (except for burns that are charred, whitish, or deep).
  • Do not break blisters.
  • Gently remove rings, watches, belts, or tight clothing.
  • Cover burned areas with dry, clean, non-stick dressings or cloth.
  • Treat for shock as required.
  • Keep the victim from getting either cold or overheated.
  • Raise legs about 12 inches if you don't suspect broken bones.
  • Do not give food or drink.
Injuries to Muscles, Bones, and Joints
  • Rest the injured part. Avoid movements that cause pain.
  • Immobilize the injured part before moving the victim or giving additional care.
  • Apply ice or a cold pack to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Raise the injured area to slow the flow of blood and reduce swelling.
Exposure to Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Agents
  • Exposure to any of these agents could lead to an unexplained outbreak of illness.
  • Immobilize the injured part before moving the victim or giving additional care.
  • If gas or poison is released, as in the 1995 Tokyo subway terrorist attack, this can cause rapid collapse or otherwise unexplained loss of consciousness. If you see such symptoms, evacuate the area immediately, call 911 and follow the advice of emergency services.
  • Symptoms of exposure to other agents are unlikely to be of such rapid onset, but if in doubt, call 911 and follow the instructions given.
  • Decontamination may be needed before medical care can be given.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Costa Mesa a potential terrorist target?

Every town, city, state, and free nation is a potential terrorist target. We all have been on heightened alert since the events of 9/11. Security and intelligence agencies constantly monitor all available information and work to prevent future terrorist attacks.

How long will the United States be on heightened alert?

    It is likely we will live with increased security for the foreseeable future. Terrorism has changed the world and we may never return to the relaxed levels most of us grew up with.

    What is being done to protect our community?

      National security and law enforcement agencies are being further trained and brought to new levels of preparedness. The Department of Homeland Security is coming online and coordinating many prevention measures. Emergency services are being equipped and trained to respond in a highly efficient manner should an event occur.

      How will I be kept informed?

        In an emergency situation, television, radio, internet, and the media will be used to inform the public about what is happening. Everyone should try to be aware of current events and read the newspapers and watch the news programs for further information. Being aware is a great preparative move.

        Should I stay away from shopping malls, sporting events, or even change my vacation plans?

          There is absolutely no reason for us to stay away from public places or change our normal routines. Just allow extra time if traveling or entering a sporting event. It is essential that we continue our way of life and not allow terrorists to dominate our lives. That is what they want. If an actual threat is discovered, the public will be informed in a timely and appropriate manner.

          Our Community and Its Diversity
          We live in a decent, democratic, peaceful society. It is going to stay that way! Our community embraces people, religions, and languages from throughout the world. Now more than ever it is important that we all respect our different backgrounds and beliefs. Terrorism affects us all and no community or religion should be made a scapegoat for the actions of extremists. If you see harassment or discrimination, do not turn your back. It is the responsibility of us all to prevent it.

          Be alert, not alarmed. If it doesn't add up, call up!

          Important Contacts

          Costa Mesa Police Department
          99 Fair Drive
          Costa Mesa, CA 92626
          (714) 754-5252

          Costa Mesa Fire Department
          77 Fair Drive
          P.O. Box 1200
          Costa Mesa, CA 92628
          (714) 549-1111

          Department of Homeland Security