"Ready Army" column from Fort McPherson garrison commander
Col. Deborah B. Grays, Garrison Commander, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

We like to live on the edge - or maybe we're just in a state of denial. We in the Atlanta area are constantly either affected by or threatened with disasters, yet how many of us are prepared when those disasters touch us'

Sure, today the weather may be calm and the installation Force Protection condition relatively low, but we still are affected by one of the worse droughts in Georgia's history. We remain in what has been a very active hurricane season until the end of November and we can all vividly remember the damage caused when a tornado with winds of more than 130 mph struck downtown Atlanta just six months ago. Those are just a few of the natural disasters we face; add the ever-present possibility of power outages, building collapse, crime and terrorist attack and the variety of dangers add up.

While it's unproductive to become an alarmist, it's naive to do nothing and hope that threats never come your way.

Last week's edition of the Sentinel introduced you to the Ready Army initiative. The Army-wide campaign recognizes the full spectrum of threats that face our Soldiers and families in the 21st century. As we strive to restore balance, increase the readiness of our force and improve the quality of life for our Soldiers and families, Ready Army offers the tools to prepare the centerpiece of our Army for challenging times.

Ready Army is centered on three actions:

>Get a kit. To fully prepare your family for an emergency, get one or more emergency kits that include enough supplies for at least three days. Keep a kit prepared at home and consider also having kits in your car, at work and a portable version in your home ready to take with you. These kits will enable you and your family to respond to an emergency more quickly. Your various emergency kits will be useful whether you have to shelter in place or evacuate.

>Make a plan. One of the most important tools you and your family can have to protect yourselves in possible emergencies is a family emergency plan. It is important that you plan ahead as a family for all types of emergencies and responses. Know where you will meet or who you will contact if your family is separated. Know what emergency services are available in your area and how can you contact them. Everyone in the family should understand what to do, where to go and what to take in the event of an emergency.

>Be informed. Find out what disasters are most likely to happen in your area and the history of their occurrence. Also, stay informed of any specific instructions or information you may need to know regarding those specific disasters.

You'll see more information on this program in the future, but don't wait until the information comes to you. A wealth of information is available on Ready Army's Army Knowledge Online (AKO) site at https://www.us.army.mil/
suite/page/464795. This site provides lists of items to include in your emergency kit, related links, general information about a variety of threats and specific information on how to prepare. Individuals who aren't able to access AKO can get the information at www.ready.gov or www.ready.army.mil.

In addition, if you missed last week's Sentinel newspaper, which had comprehensive coverage of the campaign, you can download and print the newspaper online at www.mcpherson.army.mil/sentinel091908.pdf.

Part of being Army Strong is being ready to face adversity. We train to be prepared for whatever comes our way professionally, but it's just as important to our readiness to have the security of knowing that our families have advantages when the unexpected arises.

If you feel like living on the edge, skip flossing for a day or tear the tag off your mattress, but don't risk the health of you and your family, pets and other loved ones by not being able to respond. If you wait until a disaster is upon you to act, it may be too late. Act now.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16