JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
September is National Preparedness Month and Joint Base San Antonio emergency officials are emphasizing to active-duty members, military families and civilians the importance of being prepared and ready for an emergency or disaster.
Bad weather – including flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes – fires, accidents involving hazardous materials and an active shooter are some of the natural disasters and emergencies that can possibly occur at or near JBSA.
To prepare for an emergency or disaster, families should put a plan in place that includes the contact numbers of who to call, such as family members or friends, what to do during an emergency or disaster, where to meet if they have to leave their home and an emergency supply kit, said Gregory Wilson, JBSA Office of Emergency Management technician.
Wilson said putting together an emergency plan should include all members of the family.
“If you have kids, include them, let them be part of the plan and let it be their plan,” Wilson said. “Because when it comes time and it’s a scary situation, they’re going to want to implement their plan. They are not as scared, they are prepared and they know what to do because they helped write the plan.”
An emergency kit can contain supplies such as AM/FM radio, or if the power is off, a hand-cranked radio, flashlight, water, blankets, spare batteries and a car charger for a cell phone. Before being used in an emergency, people should check to make sure the supplies they have are working.
Wilson said a family plan should be put together to handle and respond to all types of emergencies and disasters.
“Every plan has to be flexible,” he said.
For severe weather, such as a tornado, an emergency plan should include the use of a shelter-in-place in the home located in the innermost room in the house on the first floor and has no outside walls or windows. Typically, this room is a bathroom.
During a hazardous material situation, Wilson said the emergency plan should include a shelter-in-place in the home where family members can go to and instructions to close and lock all exterior doors and windows, vents, fireplace dampers and turn off air conditioner units, furnaces and ventilation systems. Also, before an accident involving hazardous materials occurs, determine the best evacuation routes to use and the fastest ways to get to those routes.
When flooding occurs, Wilson said families should adhere to warnings if their home is in danger of flooding and move to higher ground. A person should never walk in water more than six inches deep and motorists should never drive on a roadway in which they can’t see the center line, as two feet of water can sweep a vehicle off the road.
In all emergencies and natural disasters, individuals and families should listen to local TV and radio for warnings and instructions. A National Weather Service app gives users weather warnings and can be downloaded to smart phones.
Wilson said important documents should be protected and placed in containers and be accessible in an emergency, so that family members can quickly grab them. He said families who need to evacuate their homes should bring several forms of identification including driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Security and other forms of identification.
To prepare for a fire in the home, family members need to adhere to the National Fire Protection Association’s EDITH, or Exit Drills In The House, slogan, said Mark Ledford, JBSA Fire Emergency Services fire chief.
By following EDITH, Ledford said family members will know what exit ways to use to get out of the house when a fire occurs. Also, a family member who spots a fire should sound the alarm to alert other family members to get out.
After getting out of the house, Ledford said family members should meet at a spot – such as a tree, driveway or neighbor’s home – to make sure everyone is out of the house and is safe.
Ledford warns never to go back in a burning home as people could become trapped or overcome by smoke inhalation. Once people are out of the house, call 9-1-1.
Each year families should change their batteries on and test their smoke detectors, Ledford said.
Ledford said people shouldn’t focus on getting items out of the house during a fire.
“The most important thing is to get out of the home,” he said.
Preparing for an active-shooter is another emergency JBSA members should prepare for, according to an information pamphlet provided by Senior Master Sgt. Russel Raymundo, 902nd Security Forces Squadron
Individuals who are in immediate danger in an active-shooter situation have options that include:
- Escaping from the scene, leaving personal items behind, and putting their hands up so security forces members don’t mistake them for the shooter.
- Hiding and barricading themselves in a place clear of fire and silencing their cell phones. Lock doors and windows and turn off lights to make the area appear unoccupied. Call security forces when it is safe to do so.
- If individuals find themselves in danger, take action to take down the shooter.
Raymundo said if JBSA members see suspicious activity, they should call security forces.
“All personnel are encouraged to report suspicious activity,” he said. “See something, say something.”
National Preparedness Month is a reminder that all Americans must take action throughout the year to prepare for the types of emergencies that could happen and affect them at home, work and places they visit.
For information on emergency preparation and how to craft an emergency plan for the family, visit http://www.ready.gov.