Public Health Emergencies

Bioterrorism Attack

A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These agents are typically found in nature, but it is possible that they could be changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into the environment. Biological agents can be spread through the air, water, or food.

Chemical Emergency

A chemical emergency involves the release of a chemical that could harm people’s health.

Natural Disasters

1. Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the United States. Most floods develop slowly; however, flash floods can occur, destructively sweeping away most things in its path with a rush of water.

Know Your Local Warning System for Flooding

Flood watch – flooding is possible.
Flash Flood Watch – Flash flooding is possible; prepare to move to high ground.
Flooding – Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; be prepared to evacuate if advised.

2. Tornados result in extremely high winds and risk people being struck by flying and falling objects. After a tornado, the wreckage left behind poses additional injury risks.

Know Your Local Warning System for Tornados

A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, for example, during a severe thunderstorm.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar.

3. Winter Weather temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected

4. Wildfires cause smoke of a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

Pandemic Influenza

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza (flu) A virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population and spreads easily from person-to-person. A pandemic is determined by spread of disease, not necessarily severity of disease.


Radiation is a form of energy that is naturally present all around us. The amount of radiation from natural or man-made sources to which people are exposed is usually small, however a radiation emergency (such as a nuclear power plant accident or a terrorist event) could expose people to small or large doses of radiation, depending on the severity of the incident.