First, let me say that I am no expert in surviving bombings. The information I am providing came from research, and discussions with people who work with bombs. To be honest, I do not want to be an expert in bombs!
When looking at explosives, there are two major factors. Are they intended to only blow up, or are they intended to cause as much physical damage to people at the same time? Some explosives, especially those placed or worn, have metal attached to them. This shrapnel will usually be in the form of nuts, bolts, and nails, but almost anything may be used. The reason some bombers attach metal to explosive devices is to cause more damage to people. As the bomb explodes, it sends these metal projectiles flying at a high rate of speed, causing more damage, even beyond the initial blast zone. This is one reason why a thick heavy object might be a good place to hide (if you can’t escape).
In order to survive an explosive device, there are some specific strategies that may increase your ability to survive. First, do your best to not panic. In most bombing incidents, you are the only one who can take the needed action to survive. Panicking will only cause you to make a mistake, possibly a fatal mistake. If there is time and opportunity, you can:
- Create distance between you and the explosive
- Lay flat on the ground as far as you can from the explosive.
Most explosives are designed to blow up or out. Very few explosives will take a downward angle, unless they are specifically designed to. While the explosive force will typically go up, shrapnel and debris from the explosion will be heavier, and they may head towards the floor. If you do lie on the ground, try to find a heavy item to hide under, or behind. This could include, church pews, desks, and behind vehicles (except in the case of a vehicle explosive).
If you are near the bomb and it hasn’t exploded, you could crawl away from the bomb under pews. This would provide you protection, and it would help to create distance between you and the bomber. If your church has chairs instead of pews, you may want to determine (before an incident) if they are substantial enough to prevent shrapnel and bullets from coming through, or would they add to the shrapnel that could harm you.
If the bomb is noticed, but has not yet exploded, you should begin taking short shallow breaths (some even say to pant). Research has shown that blast over-pressure is the primary cause of deaths in an explosion, especially in confined spaces (indoors). Air moving at supersonic speed can rupture lungs if they are full of air. As might be expected, the most severe damage is done in close proximity to the blast, and the damage and over-pressure injuries diminish as the distance increases.
A list of areas to stay away from include:
- Lightweight furniture
- Electrical equipment (especially hanging lights or fans)
- Gas operated equipment (such as stoves and furnaces)
- Anything that might move or fly easily
It is also important to realize that you shouldn’t use elevators or wheel chair lifts if there is an explosive threat. The explosion may disable them, or worse yet, it may cause them to fail completely.
Should there be an explosion and you survive, you should exit the building immediately. Don’t look for others, don’t look for any of your belongings, just get clear of the area. As you exit the bombed area, be aware of electrical lines and treat all of them as if they are energized. Also, avoid walls that may be unstable, and avoid any falling debris (as it is possible).
As I close this information on bombings, I should note that in most instances, it is highly unlikely that your church will suffer an attack using explosives (at this point and time). It is still important that you work to identify strategies that may help you to be better prepared for an explosive device brought to your church. It is important to remember that if there actually were an explosives attack on your church, there is no guarantee that the information provided will save you. I will say the information I have provided should, at the very least, increase your chances of survival.
Tomorrow, we will hear from one of the actors who was in our instructional video (my lovely wife). She will share her thoughts and experience while we were filming the video. On Thursday, we will be discussing what will happen, and how you should react, when the police arrive. Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you safe, … Mark