Man-Made Hazards Information

Man-Made Hazards are events that are caused by humans and occur in or close to human settlements. The events leading up to a man-made hazard may be the result of deliberate or negligent human actions, but their impact can be equally as devastating.

Explore each section below to learn about how to prepare for specific hazardous events.


An “active shooter” is an individual who is engaged in shooting or attempting to shoot or kill people in a confined and populated area. 

Active shooter situations are all different.  Most shooters use firearms and have no particular planned approach to their selection of victims.  Common motives include anger, revenge, ideology and untreated mental illness.

Because active shooter situations often are over within 10-15 minutes – many times before law enforcement arrives on the scene – people must be prepared both mentally and physically to react.

During an Active Shooter Event:

  • Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life.
    • Run: Escape quickly and quietly.  Leave your belongings.  Call 9-1-1 when safe.
    • Hide: If you can’t safely escape, hide.  Block entry to your hiding place. Turn off lights, lock the door, hide behind a large item, silence cell phones, stay quiet.  Call 9-1-1 when it is safe.  If you can’t talk, leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what is happening.
    • Fight: As an absolute last resort, act aggressively.  Throw items, improvise weapons, yell.  Commit to your actions.
  • Follow police instructions.

Additional Resources:


During a chemical emergency, a hazardous amount of a chemical is released into the environment. Accidents can happen underground, on railroad tracks or highways, and at manufacturing plants. These accidents sometimes result in a fire or explosion, but many times you cannot see or smell anything unusual.

Things To Remember:

  • Chemicals are everywhere.
  • The most common chemical accidents occur in our own homes and can be prevented. The best ways to avoid chemical accidents at home are to read and follow the directions for use, storage and disposal of the product.
    • Don’t mix products, especially household cleaning products.

During a Hazmat Event:

  • In life-threatening emergencies, call the Poison Control Center, EMS, 911 or the operator immediately.
    • If you witness (or smell) a hazardous materials release, call 911.
  • If you are told to stay inside, close all windows and vents and turn off all fans, heating or cooling systems. Take family members and pets to a safe room, and listen to emergency broadcast stations for instructions.
    • If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • If you find someone who appears to have been injured from chemical exposure, make sure you are not in danger before administering first aid.
  • Stay away from the incident site to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • If you are caught outside during an incident, stay upstream, uphill and upwind. Gases and mists are generally heavier than air and hazardous materials can be quickly transported by water and wind. In general, try to go at least one-half mile (10 city blocks) from the danger area.; however, for many incidents you will need to go much farther.
  • If you are in a motor vehicle, stop and find shelter in a permanent building if possible. If you must remain in your vehicle, keep the windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.

Stay Informed:

  • In the event of a major chemical emergency, you will be notified by the authorities.
  • Listen carefully to radio or television emergency alert stations and strictly follow instructions: your life could depend on it.

After a Hazmat Event:

  • When authorities advise people in your area to leave their shelters, open all doors and windows and turn on the air conditioning and ventilation systems. These measures will flush out any chemicals that infiltrated the building.
  • Be aware that a person or item that has been exposed to a hazardous chemical might be contaminated and could contaminate other people or items. Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities.


A pandemic is a global disease outbreak.  

If a pandemic occurs, it is likely to be a prolonged and widespread outbreak that could require temporary changes in many areas of society, such as schools, work, transportation and other public services. An informed and prepared public can take appropriate actions to decrease their risk during a pandemic.

Be Prepared:

  • Talk with your local public health officials and health care providers, who can supply information about the signs and symptoms of a specific disease outbreak and recommend prevention and control actions.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Practice good health habits, including eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and getting sufficient rest. In addition, take common-sense steps to stop the spread of germs including frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes and staying away from others as much as possible when you are sick.

Stay Informed:

  • Monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet for information about the pandemic and safety precautions.


Although you cannot see or smell radiation, it can be detected using instruments specifically designed for that purpose.  Nuclear power stations are designed and built to prevent release of radiation.  Should a nuclear incident occur, state health officials would monitor levels and advise the public about protective actions that may be needed.

There are four increasing levels of emergency warnings at nuclear power stations:

  • Notification of Unusual Event: Lowest classification–a minor problem has been identified; no release of radioactive matter is expected; and there is no danger to the public.  No special precautions are needed.
  • Alert: A minor incident has occurred.  Small amounts of radioactive matter could be released inside the station.  There is no danger to the public, and no special precautions are needed.
  • Site Area Emergency: A more serious incident has occurred, and it is possible that a small amount of radioactive matter could be released into the area immediately surrounding the station.  Find a local radio or TV station that is broadcasting emergency information and listen for instructions.
  • General Emergency: This is the most serious type of event.  Radioactive matter could be released outside the station site.  Sirens will sound.  A General Emergency is the only event that might require you to take specific steps to protect yourself and your family. Find a local radio or TV station that is broadcasting emergency information and listen for instructions.  Be prepared to follow instructions promptly.

Be Prepared:

  • Make a plan
    • Although a serious radiological accident is unlikely, it is wise to be prepared.  Knowing what to do and where to go in an emergency is the best way to protect yourself and your family. Make an emergency plan for your family.
  • Get a kit
    • Have supplies on hand to last at least three days for each family member.  Store these supplies in easy to carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or plastic storage containers. Learn how to make an emergency kit.

During a Radiological Emergency:

  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Take your emergency supply kit with you.
    • Know your evacuation route and final destination before you leave.
    • Secure your home the best you can and leave.
  • If you are told to stay where you are, go inside and stay inside until emergency officials say it is safe to leave.
    • Close all windows, doors, vents and fireplace dampers.
    • Turn off all devices that draw in outside air, such as air conditioners, heat pumps and fans.
    • Listen to local radio and television stations that are broadcasting emergency information and follow instructions from emergency officials.

Stay Informed:

  • An Integrated Public Alert and
    Warning System (IPAWS) notifies citizens of events through radio, television and
    cellphone. No signup is necessary, as this communication is similar to traditional
    Amber and Severe Weather alerts, which require no prior registry. Click here for
    more information.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations that are broadcasting emergency information.  Follow instructions given by emergency officials.
  • The Emergency Planning Information Calendar distributed to residents and businesses within 10 miles of North Anna or Surry power stations contains more specific information about preparing for radiological emergencies. The information also can be found in the beginning of the yellow pages section of area phone directories.

Additional Resources:


Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom.

Terrorists bypass established institutions (such as courts), using violence against citizens to force changes in society and force governments to change policies toward their cause.

Terrorists might use weapons of mass destruction, which include toxic or poisonous chemicals, disease organisms, dangerous radiation, explosive incendiary or poison gas bombs, grenades, rockets or missiles, mines or similar devices. Terrorists also use traditional weapons such as automatic guns or grenades in armed attacks on targets.

Depending on the severity and type of the attack, many things could happen in your community:

  • There could be many casualties.
  • There could be significant damage to buildings and the community’s infrastructure.
  • Health and mental health resources in the affected communities could be strained to the limits, might be even overwhelmed.
  • There could be heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels due to the event’s criminal nature.
  • An area might have to be evacuated.
  • Workplaces and schools might be closed, and there might be restrictions on domestic and international travel.
  • Cleanup might take months.
  • Public fear could continue for a prolonged period.

Please report all potential terrorist activity to the Virginia Terrorism Hotline: 1-877-4VA-TIPS or 1-877-482-8477