Hurricane Dorian is an example of how important it is to plan for an emergency or disaster situation, according to Tamilene Black, an emergency management specialist with the Installation Emergency Operations Center.
The threat of Dorian ushered in September, which is National Preparedness Month.
Black said it’s important to be informed. Make a plan. Build a kit and get involved to be prepared for any emergency situation. National Preparedness Month is a time to remind everyone the importance of being ready.
“We want to see everyone review established exercises and refine or if needed, develop emergency preparedness plans,” Black said. “It’s important for everyone to have a plan. Have an emergency kit available at home and in your vehicle. Prepare your home, think about everything, including your finances and your pets.”
Black said Soldiers, their family members, as well as the civilian workforce need to know what to do before, during and after an emergency. That includes, understanding how they will be notified about emergencies, evacuation routes, shelter locations, or strategies for sheltering in place.
“It’s important to consider the limitations and any special needs for each family member,” she said. “Make a plan and prepare for multiple scenarios. The family may or may not be together when an emergency happens so plan early and then update those plans with lessons learned after each incident.”
If there are family pets, how will they be cared for and protected? How will you communicate if there is no phone or cellular service available? How will family members get to safe locations with or without transportation are good questions to address in the plan.
Black said people should plan to keep cash, flashlights and batteries on hand in case of an emergency. Take photos of important documents and personal items. In the emergency kit, have enough food, water and medications for at least 72 hours. If you have children, add your toys or games for your children.
“It’s a good idea to have a kit for your home and vehicle,” Black said. “Include whatever you need to survive for at least 72 hours.”
Once the plan is developed and the emergency kit is put together, Black would like to see families practice their plans. She also encourages parents to review their children’s school Emergency Action Plan with teachers.
On Redstone Arsenal, Black said a new mass warning notification system called “Alert!” replaced “AtHoc” earlier this year. If you are assigned a unit identification code on Redstone Arsenal, you are automatically enrolled in the Alert! System. She said each employee should update his or her information on the website, alert.csd.disa.mil. If you have questions about the system, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s national theme established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is “Prepared, Not Scared.” Weekly topics are broken down into Sept. 1-7, which focuses on saving early for disaster costs. Week 2, Sept. 8-14, focuses on making a plan to prepare for disasters. Week 3, Sept. 15-21, the focus will be on teaching youth to prepare for disasters; and the last week, Sept 22-30, the focus is on getting involved in your community’s preparedness.