‘Disasters don’t plan ahead, you can’

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The month of September is National Preparedness Month, established by Presidential Directive to promote awareness and to remind people that planning for natural disasters is everyone’s responsibility.
Severe weather, heavy rains and earthquakes will always pose a threat to our safety, and therefore it is never a matter of whether a disaster will strike, but simply when. However, accomplishing a small amount of pre-planning, not only can people ensure they protect themselves and their loved ones when disaster strikes, but they can also be a critical component of helping responders and their community recover.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Air Force Be Ready have several guidelines for standard disaster preparedness. Regardless of the type of disaster being prepared for –flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake –many of these basic steps remain the same: build a kit, have a plan and be prepared.
A kit should have basic supplies, such as food, water and first-aid supplies; these supplies should be sufficient to last each family member several days without resupply. Ensure this includes items for pets as well – they’re part of the family after all.
In addition, when planning for a disaster, avoid getting too specific. The unique circumstances and situation of each disaster may vary, but every plan should include a way to get in contact with family members, a primary and backup meeting place in case of separation, and what supplies to take in case evacuation is needed. It is not the end of the world – pack light, and leave the furniture at home.
The last step of being prepared is practice and situational awareness. Check supplies every few months to ensure food-stuffs have not spoiled, and periodically practice the plan so family members can execute it from memory – an important step, as checklists may not be available, and knowing what to do in an emergency can reduce and manage panic. Lastly, keep up to date on local conditions, and engage with the local community on being prepared. Remember, when disaster strikes, it affects everyone, and we’re all in this together.
(Editor’s note: Information used in this story can also be found at www.Ready.gov and www.beready.af.mil, also visit these sites for more tips on how you can prepare you and your family for disasters.)