Expert offers advice on how to stay safe after Brussels attack

Published: Mar. 22, 2016 at 6:12 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 1, 2016 at 7:15 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As the death toll climbs and images of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Brussels circulate, many people are asking what they can do at home to be more vigilant and stay safe.

Images show a hectic scene in Brussels after two explosions in the airport. Innocent travelers are among the dead.

"I can understand why Americans would be fearful of an attack like this and worry about the potential of something like this happening in Virginia," said Dr. Stephen Long, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Richmond.

Long has been watching Tuesday's terrorist attacks unfold. He says right now, Americans are not the number-one target.

"The threat is real, and perhaps as Americans, we need to be even more mindful, because we are an appealing target whenever we go abroad, especially when we go to less secure societies or developing societies – an American is going to stand out," explains Long.

He says there are some common sense things you can do to keep you and your family safe.

"Be aware of your surroundings, just as I hope you would be in any major city," said Long. "Be aware of who's walking nearby to you."

Long says the national campaign "See Something, Say Something" is also a good reminder. If you see standing luggage, don't approach it yourself, get police. And, if something does happen:

"Fight the urge or instinct to stare, because that means you stand still and it makes you an easy target," said Long. "Move. And if you hear something odd, starting moving."

Homeland Security says there is no credible threat that an attack similar to Brussels could happen in the U.S.

Virginia State Police also say there is "no specific, credible intelligence of any plot to conduct similar attacks here in Virginia or the United States."

"Vigilance is essential in detecting and deterring suspicious activity of all kinds within our communities," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "The Virginia State Police is always committed to working closely with our local, state and federal public safety partners in protecting those living, working and visiting our Commonwealth. But, we can't do it alone. Therefore, we are simply reminding our citizens to maintain a level of awareness and report any suspicious activity you might find alarming or of concern."

Meanwhile, Long says while Americans need to be aware when they're traveling, they shouldn't be fearful. He and his family are set to travel to Europe in the near future. He says they won't be canceling those plan.

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