“Terrorism forces us to make a choice. We can be afraid. Or we can be ready.” Those powerful words by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge introduce a new government booklet about terrorism preparedness, entitled Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now.

With almost daily media reports of potential attacks against U.S. targets by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the publication advises that now, more than ever, organizations, their security operations and all Americans should be ready and prepared.

The booklet, drafted by the Department of Homeland Security, offers some sound basic suggestions that organizations and individuals should consider implementing. Written in a rather frank, matter-of-fact tone, the guide states that terrorists are working to obtain biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological weapons, and that the possibility of another attack on the U.S. is very real. It also says that with a little planning and common sense, organizations, their security operations and individuals can be better prepared for the unexpected.

With our current security threat level at Elevated (Yellow), it is a good time to review some of the ideas expressed in the 12-page booklet.

Emergency supplies. Just like having a working smoke detector or intrusion sensor or detector, keeping emergency supply kits properly stocked and available can provide valuable tools in the event of an emergency. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to survive on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

Emergency planning. Plan in advance what you and your organization will do in an emergency. Every organization should have multiple emergency plans. When developing such plans for various circumstances, remember to tailor policies to both the perspective of the total organization as well as that of the security operation.

Specific terrorist threats. It is important to remember that there are significant differences among potential terrorist threats – such as a biological threat, a chemical threat, a nuclear blast, or a so-called “dirty bomb” – that will influence your actions and decisions. By learning about these specific threats, you are, in effect, preparing yourself to react in an emergency.

In all cases, remain calm. Keep yourself under control and encourage your staff and employees to remain calm as well. Be prepared to adapt this information to your specific security and business circumstances, and make every effort to follow instructions received from first responder authorities. Above all, stay composed, be patient and think before you act.

Booklet Details Available

This is, of course, a very brief review of some of the ideas suggested in the booklet. For more information and details on these topics, or to receive a free copy of this booklet for yourself, visit www.ready.gov or call (800) BE-READY.

It is important to realize that, in the months after September 11, many companies hired additional security officers and brought in equipment to protect their employees, facilities and assets from outside terror threats.

There has been a similar gearing up of government and military contractors and their research and development efforts.

Today strategies have changed.

More companies are involved in planning and technologies to provide better communications and crisis management based on situations created by natural and man-made disasters. Specifically, many colleges and universities now offer degree work on disaster recovery. The bottom line is that organizations realize that, while some procedures and equipment may aim at preventing terror attacks, spending will prove more useful in better handling situations after crisis incidents and disasters, no matter the cause.

Of course Homeland Security has a threat level alert mission, but it is also working to provide more information to businesses, local government agencies and citizens on after-incident activities.