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National Preparedness Month: Tornadoes biggest threat to Columbus AFB

U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb.

U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb.

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- National Preparedness Month is drawing to a close. However, this does not mean preparations need to end. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and many more disasters can and still occur at any given moment.
This is the purpose behind National Preparedness Month message, “Disasters don’t plan ahead, you can.”

Preparation comes in three simple steps: identifying the most common disasters, creating an emergency kit and creating a plan.

Tornadoes are a major threat for families living on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, and surrounding communities. In Mississippi during 2016, there were 44 tornadoes reported, killing one person and injuring two more.

Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning is extremely important. A tornado watch is when there is a possibility for a tornado and a tornado warning is the actual sighting or indication of a tornado in the area. Knowing these terms and receiving the updates can assist with taking shelter when necessary.

This is not the only way to prepare for a tornado; it is essential for families to have an emergency kit in the same area that they are sheltering.

An emergency kit is key to preparing for a disaster and ensures that the supplies needed in worse case situations are available. An emergency kit should include at the absolute minimum a gallon of water and non-perishable food per person per day; can opener, batteries and flashlights; sanitation supplies, cash, and first aid kit. This will ensure that if a family was trapped under debris that they have the supplies needed to stay alive until first responders can reach them.

Families may also need to include personal medications and items for pets. An emergency supply kit needs to be tailored to every family and has to be easily accessible. After making a kit they also need to make a plan for disasters that may happen.

Every family needs to have a plan for disasters. When making a plan try to not get too specific. This will make sure that the same plan for a fire can also be used for a tornado with only minor changes. The plan should include a primary and secondary place to meet, a way to communicate if separated, and make sure that specific family needs are considered. The places to meet should be familiar and known to each family member.

Communication needs to take into consideration that there may not be any cellular service. Specific needs for families may determine how to communicate and where to meet. Lastly the most important part of making a plan is to practice the plan. As the old saying goes, “practice make perfect.”

Following these simple steps will not only help ensure an individual’s safety but the safety of their families, first responders, and volunteers. Being prepared for a disaster is everyone’s duty to their family and community. Remember, “Disasters don’t plan ahead, you can.”

(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.)