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Preparedness Month emphasizes planning ahead to deal with disasters

By Robert Goetz | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Sept. 6, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

Every year in September, National Preparedness Month reminds people how critical it is to plan and prepare for emergencies regardless of their magnitude.

            Underscored by the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey on the lives and property of the residents of Houston and other Texas communities, this year’s theme, “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can,” sets the tone for National Preparedness Month.

            At Joint Base San Antonio, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management professionals will spread this message with information booths at three locations: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 5 at the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Exchange, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 12 at the JBSA-Randolph Exchange and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 19 at the JBSA-Lackland Exchange.

            JBSA’s observance of National Preparedness Month will also feature a 5K run/walk at 7 a.m. Sept. 26 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston’s MacArthur Field, preceded by a raffle for a $75 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift card.

            Referencing the month’s theme, Greg Wilson, 502nd CES emergency management technician, said planning ahead is the key to dealing with disasters of all kinds.

            “The focus is on preparedness at work and at home,” he said. “It’s important to have an emergency action plan and make sure everybody at your workplace and in your family knows what action to take. What is my response when this happens?”

            Knowing when and how to evacuate is a key consideration when faced with an emergency.

            “In our area we can have severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods, so evacuation may be necessary,” Wilson said. “Make sure you know where the shelters are in your community. If you have to shelter in place, choose an innermost room in your home.”

            Service members and civilian employees at JBSA and other installations should know where their shelter is located, he added. If not, they can contact an emergency management representative at their workplace.

            Communication is also vital, Wilson said.

            “Communication should be part of the plan because family members may not all be together when something happens,” he said. “Everyone should know the first person to call.”

            Preparedness also has a community component, Wilson said.

            “Know your neighborhood, and know who is most vulnerable during an emergency, such as an elderly or disabled person,” he said. “Someone should be assigned to look after that person.”

            Stocking a kit with first aid supplies, tape, a flashlight and other emergency items, as well as medications and important documents, is another important part of preparedness, Wilson said. With the help of apps, smartphones can be used to store emergency phone contacts, checklists and documents.

            Preparedness will be a focus at JBSA throughout September.

            “Commanders at all levels need to ensure the JBSA Emergency Management Program and the planning associated with it is a priority in September and maintained all year around,” Wilson said.

            JBSA military members and civilians have websites they can access to become better prepared for emergencies, including the Air Force’s www.beready.af.mil, the Army’s www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy and the Navy’s www.ready.navy.mil.

            The armed services’ preparedness campaigns – the Air Force’s “Be Ready,” “Ready Army” and “Ready Navy” – provide military members and civilians with the knowledge they need to enhance their resilience, equip their readiness and increase their security so they will be prepared to deal with any emergency situation.