I appreciated the March 16 Emergency Preparedness Guide, but one aspect of our area's planning needs more thought:

The Department of Homeland Security is urging that office buildings be closed in the event of a Code Red threat advisory. Like many Washingtonians, I spend a good part of my day away from my office. What if I am on the street when a Code Red is declared?

Of course I would try to seek shelter, but I would be turned away by building after building in lockdown. People without an office -- construction workers, taxi drivers and the homeless, to name a few -- also would be denied shelter.

This situation would breed panic and chaos. I urge the Department of Homeland Security to rethink its advice to building owners. I also urge building owners to rethink their procedures, if only because most of their front doors are made of glass.




An odd phrase has recently crept into the language: "shelter in place." Every American is familiar with a shorter, punchier expression that has the same meaning: "stay put."

So why is this murky impersonal wording being introduced to displace it? Could it be the same mind-set that prefers "collateral damage" to "death of noncombatants"?


Chevy Chase


Regarding the March 6 Business article "Terror Alerts Instantly -- If You Have the Gadgets":

People can receive alerts simply and inexpensively from the only government-owned and -operated system that exists today: the NOAA/National Weather Service Weather Radio system. This system is being used by local emergency managers in many areas for all types of emergency alerts (not just weather). The weather radio Web site (go to www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr and click on "All Hazards") explains its usefulness in all types of emergencies. Many devices, most of them inexpensive, have weather radio receiver functions, including walkie-talkie-like radios, handheld weather radios, desktop units, clock radios, digital temperature gauges and even a new RCA TV. The best part is the service is free.

The weather radio system is tested regularly and has proved its mettle by saving lives in all sorts of disaster situations. True, it's not sexy, new technology. It just works. Emergency managers don't need to invent a new warning system, they only need to arrange to use the one that the federal government operates today.


Arlington, Tex.

The writer is a vice president of RadioShack Corp.