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Help the country; protect yourself

Issue: "Weapons of mass hysteria," March 15, 2003

RED ON NERVE AGENTS Your best protection is fresh air and staying calm. Listed below are the symptoms for nerve agent poisoning: Sudden headache, dimness of vision (someone you're looking at will have pinpointed pupils), runny nose, excessive saliva or drooling, difficulty breathing, tightness in chest, nausea, stomach cramps, twitching of exposed skin where a liquid just got on you. If you are in public and you start experiencing these symptoms, first ask yourself, did anything out of the ordinary just happen, a loud pop, did someone spray something on the crowd? Are other people getting sick too? Is there an odor of new mown hay, green corn, something fruity, or camphor where it shouldn't be? If the answer is yes, then calmly (if you panic you breathe faster and inhale more air/poison) leave the area and head upwind or outside. Fresh air is the best "right-now antidote." RED ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS These are the only weapons of mass destruction on earth. The effects of a nuclear bomb are heat, blast, EMP, and radiation. If you see a bright flash of light like the sun, where the sun isn't, fall to the ground! The heat will be over in a second. Then there will be two blast waves, one outgoing, and one on its way back. Don't stand up to see what happened after the first wave; anything that's going to happen will have happened in two full minutes. These will be low-yield devices and will not level whole cities. If you live through the heat, blast, and initial burst of radiation, you'll probably live for a very, very long time. Radiation will not create 50-foot-tall women or giant ants and grasshoppers the size of tanks. These will be at the most 1-kiloton bombs; that's the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT. Your defense is, as always, not to panic. Basic hygiene and normal preparation are your friends. All canned or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation poisoning will not affect plants, so fruits and vegetables are OK if there's no dust on 'em (rinse 'em off if there is). If you don't have running water and you need to collect rainwater or use water from wherever, just let it sit for 30 minutes and skim off the water gently from the top. The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle and the remaining water can be used for the toilet, which will still work if you have a bucket of water to pour in the tank. RED ON RIDING OUT THE STORM Overall preparation for any terrorist attack is the same as you'd take for a big storm. If you want a gas mask, fine, go get one. I know this stuff and I'm not getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with one either (how's that for confidence?). We have a week's worth of cash, several days' worth of canned goods and plenty of soap and water. We don't leave stuff out to attract bugs or rodents so we don't have them. These people can't conceive a nation this big with this many resources. These weapons are made to cause panic, terror, and to demoralize. If we don't run around like sheep they won't use this stuff after they find out it's no fun. The government is going nuts over this stuff because they have to protect every inch of America. You've only got to protect yourself, and by doing that, you help the country. c Red Thomas's entire "Real Deal" report is posted at www.worldmag.com

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