The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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In an emergency, get under the table

New York City has published a guide to how to cope in an emergency, advising its workers to hide under their desks in the event of a building collapse.

The 16-page document, entitled Ready New York, is described as “an informational resource for what to do in an emergency” and tells New Yorkers “what to have in your head, your hand, your home”.

It has been drawn up by the office of emergency management and the office of mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in true Baden-Powell style, urges readers to “Be prepared!”

Under a section headed Weather Disasters, citizens are offered tips to stay cool. The first is that they should “stay out of the sun”.

Elsewhere, pet owners are advised to “include provisions for their pet in a household disaster plan”, including assembling a pet survival kit with what are euphemistically described as “plastic bags for pick-up”.

In the light of September 11, it is the Thoughts on Terrorism section that is likely to attract the most interest. Having decreed that “if you can’t get out of (a collapsing) building, get under a sturdy table or desk”, the booklet moves on to suspicious mail.

It says: “A parcel or letter may be considered suspicious when it has more than one of the following (nine) characteristics”.

These include “handwritten or poorly typed address, addressed to someone no longer with your organisation or not addressed to a specific person”.

Recipients of bomb threats are advised to “ask the caller as many of the following questions as possible: When is the bomb going to explode' Where is it right now'

“What does it look like' What kind of bomb is it' Where are you calling from' Why did you place the bomb'”

Should you survive that phone call, the guide recognises that, your mental health may suffer. It advises: “Talk about your feelings with family, friends and neighbours. They are good medicine.”

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