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Homeland Security Threat Advisory Level

elevated terror threat elevated terror threat

An Elevated Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Threat Conditions, all Kentucky state departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

  • Increasing surveillance of critical locations;
  • Coordinating emergency plans as appropriate with nearby jurisdictions;
  • Assessing whether the precise characteristics of the threat require the further refinement of preplanned Protective Measures; and
  • Implementing, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.

Homeland Security Advisory System Explained

The Homeland Security Advisory System is a means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to federal, state, and local authorities and to the American people.

The Homeland Security Advisory System features five Threat Conditions, each identified by a description and corresponding color. From lowest to highest, the levels and colors are:

Terror Chart Terror Chart

The higher the Threat Condition, the greater the risk of a terrorist attack. Risk includes both the probability of an attack occurring and its potential gravity. Threat Conditions are assigned by the Attorney General in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

Threats involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and emergency actions

This portion of the website is intended to provide general information to assist in efforts to recognize potential WMD-related threats or incidents.

The information is not all encompassing, and its applicability should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with local conditions, policies, and procedures.

Chemical, biological, and radiological material can be dispersed in the air we breath, the water we drink, or on surfaces we physically contact. Dispersion methods could include placing an open container in a heavily used area, using conventional (garden)/commercial spray devices, or detonating an improvised explosive device to disseminate chemical, biological or radiological material.

Chemical incidents are characterized by the rapid onset of medical symptoms (minutes to hours) and easily observed signatures (colored residue, dead foliage, pungent order, and dead insect and animal life). In the case of a biological or radiological incident, the onset of symptoms requires days to weeks and there are typically few characteristic signatures.

In all cases, being alert to the following could assist law enforcement and emergency responders in evaluating potential threats.


  • Unusual packages or containers, especially those found in unlikely or sensitive locations, such as near HVAC or air intake systems.
  • Unusual powders or liquids/droplets/mists/clouds, especially those found near air intake/HVAC systems.
  • Indications of tampering in targeted areas/equipment (i.e., locked ventilation/HVAC systems; stocks of food; water supply).
  • Reports of suspicious person(s) or activities, especially those involving sensitive locations within or around a building.
  • Surveillance of targeted areas, including but not limited to hotels, entertainment venues, subway systems, aircraft; water sources, office buildings, apartment buildings. 
  • Theft of chemical products/equipment.
  • Dead animals/birds, fish, or insects. 
  • Unexplained/unusual odors. Smells may range from fruity/flowery to sharp/pungent, garlic/horseradish-like, bitter almonds, peach kernels, and new mown grass/hay. 
  • Unusual/unscheduled spraying or discovery of spray devices or bottles.


  • Maintain a heightened sense of awareness. Place an increased emphasis on the security of immediate surroundings. 
  • Conduct periodic inspections of building facilities and HVAC systems for potential indicators/irregularities.
  • Review emergency operations and evacuation plans/procedures for all locations/organizations to ensure that plans are up to date.
  • Promptly report suspicious activities to appropriate law enforcement authorities.


  • Maintain a safe distance/evacuate area (if outside move to upwind location; if inside keep outside doors/windows closed).
  • Call your local 911 (law enforcement and public safety personnel) after reaching safe area.
  • Do not handle or disturb suspicious objects.
  • Remove possibly contaminated external clothing (including hats, shoes, gloves).
  • Follow emergency operations plans/instructions from emergency response personnel.

Counter-Terrorism Links

Kentucky Homeland Security
The Office of Homeland Security - White House
Kentucky Division of Emergency Management
FirstGov - America Responds to Terrorism
KY Department of Public Health - Anthrax Information
CDC - Anthrax Information
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Agriculture Efforts in Agri-Terrorism