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What happens when you cough without covering your mouth? Millions of tiny, invisible germs are released into the air and the guy next to you better hope he had his flu shot. That’s how biological agents work too. They’re microscopic germs and/or toxins that can be introduced into the air with the intention of making hundreds of thousands of people sick at one time. They can also damage crops and livestock, hurting the food supply. Some examples of biological agents include smallpox, anthrax and botulism.  

Preparing for a Biological Emergency

  • Make sure your Emergency Supply Kit is ready.
  • Educate yourself about biological agents and how they may affect you.
  • Follow directions from officials about sheltering-in-place or evacuating.
  • Do not stockpile or take antibiotics without a medical prescription. Taking medications that are not prescribed for you can be harmful or lessen their effectiveness later if and when they’re needed.

Shelter-In-Place and Seal-the-Room

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Get your emergency supply kit and turn on your battery-powered radio.
  • Go to an interior room that is above ground level and without windows, if possible. In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
  • If directed by local authorities on the radio, use duct tape to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room. Tape plastic sheeting, such as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, over any windows.
  • Listen to your radio or television for further instructions. Local officials will tell you when you can leave the room in which you are sheltering, or they may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.