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  Homeland Security Advisory System Breakdown


Let's Stop the violence! 

    See how KEYS can help!!

Understanding the Homeland Security Advisory System: The world has changed since September 11, 2001. We remain a nation at risk to terrorist attacks and will remain at risk for the foreseeable future. At all Threat Conditions, we must remain vigilant, prepared, and ready to deter terrorist attacks. The following Threat Conditions each represent an increasing risk of terrorist attacks. Beneath each Threat Condition are some suggested Protective Measures, recognizing that the heads of Federal departments and agencies are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate agency-specific Protective Measures.

  "Homeland Security Website

At the Department of Homeland Security, throughout the federal government, and at organizations across America we are working hard to strengthen our Nation's security. Whenever possible, we want to stop terrorist attacks before they happen. All Americans should begin a process of learning about potential threats so we are better prepared to react during an attack.

Need help developing a
Crisis Response Plan

The Homeland Security Advisory System will provide a comprehensive and effective means to disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist attacks to Federal, State, and local authorities and to the American people.

 As part of a series of initiatives to improve coordination and communication among all levels of government and the American public in the fight against terrorism, President Bush signed Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3, creating the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). The advisory system will be the foundation for building a comprehensive and effective communications structure for the dissemination of information regarding the risk of terrorist attacks to all levels of government and the American people.

View more information:
White House Press Release
HSAS Security Advisory FAQ's (PDF)

A tool to combat terrorism. Threat Conditions characterize the risk of terrorist attack. Protective Measures are the steps that will be taken by government and the private sector to reduce vulnerabilities. The HSAS establishes five Threat Conditions with associated suggested Protective Measures:

Homeland Security Advisory System

Low Condition

Low risk of terrorist attacks. The following Protective Measures may be applied:

  • Refining and exercising preplanned Protective Measures
  • Ensuring personnel receive training on HSAS, departmental, or agency-specific Protective Measures; and
  • Regularly assessing facilities for vulnerabilities and taking measures to reduce them.

Guarded Condition

General risk of terrorist attack. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied:

  • Checking communications with designated emergency response or command locations;
  • Reviewing and updating emergency response procedures; and
  • Providing the public with necessary information.

Elevated Condition

Significant risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied:

  • Increasing surveillance of critical locations;
  • Coordinating emergency plans with nearby jurisdictions;
  • Assessing further refinement of Protective Measures within the context of the current threat information; and
  • Implementing, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.

High Condition

High risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied:

  • Coordinating necessary security efforts with armed forces or law enforcement agencies;
  • Taking additional precaution at public events;
  • Preparing to work at an alternate site or with a dispersed workforce; and Restricting access to essential personnel only.

Severe Condition

Severe risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied:

  • Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning specially trained teams; Monitoring, redirecting or constraining transportation systems;
  • Closing public and government facilities; and
  • Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs.

For additional information see:


  • State Wide Crisis Response Teams

  • Development of a District Crisis Response Action Plan

  • Obtain a Visitor Badge System

  • Obtaining a Shelter-in-Place Kit

  • Download Free Guide - What Schools can do under a Severe Condition (Red)
    Remember this is a large document and will take time to download based on your connection.  Please give it time.

  • Download Free Handout "Helping Children Cope with a Crisis"

  • Training - Homeland Security Codes and Specific Tasks School Should Enact

  • Download Comprehensive Document (pdf) - Translating Homeland Security Alert Codes into Terms that Schools Can Implement

  • To Learn How "Keys To Safer Schools" Can Help.

  • Learning what to look for - "Early Warning Signs"

  • Request "PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (info)"

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  • Learn about National Reports on Violence

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