Ready Army: Preparedness is a year-round effort
October 9, 2008
Many events can trigger emergency situations with the potential to escalate into disaster. Hazards such as power outages or disease outbreaks can happen anywhere at any time.
Soldiers of all Army components, civilians and their Family members should become familiar with the spectrum of possible dangers and learn how they will be notified about them.
It is also important to give special consideration to local hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes or severe winter weather.
Living abroad presents additional preparedness challenges and sometimes less familiar hazards like volcanic eruption and tsunamis.
While the potential threats can seem overwhelming, keep in mind that most of what should be contained in Family emergency plans or put in emergency kits will be useful regardless of the hazard.
Preparedness is a year-round effort that everyone can be a part of by remembering and acting on the three keys to being a Ready Army: Get a kit, Make a plan and Be informed.
Get a kit
Assemble a collection of first aid supplies, food, water, medicines and important papers to sustain the Family until a crisis passes. Consider the unique needs of the Family and pets, and then assemble emergency supply kits in the home, car and workplace. Emergency kits are an essential tool for meeting that challenge.
To prepare the 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 having kits in the car and at work. These kits will enable the Family unit to respond to an emergency more quickly. The various emergency kits will be useful whether evacuating or sheltering-in-place.
Suggested basic items to consider for a home emergency kit:
Water-at least one gallon per person per day for at least three days;
Food-nonperishable food for at least three days
Formula and diapers for infants
Food, water, other supplies and documents for pets
Manual can opener
Flashlight, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration battery-powered weather radio, battery-powered cell phone charger and extra batteries
First aid kit with dust masks, antiseptic and prescription medications
Sanitation supplies such as moist towelettes, disinfectant, toilet paper and garbage bags
Important documents-personal, financial and insurance
Family emergency plan, local maps and your command reporting information
Additional items can be essential for those serving abroad:
Birth abroad certificate for children born overseas
Cash in local currency
Card with local translations of basic terms
Electrical current converter
Many other items could prove helpful:
Any tools needed to turn off utilities
Matches in a waterproof container
Paper plates, paper cups, plastic utensils, paper towels
Coats and rain gear
Sleeping bags or other bedding
Weather-appropriate change of clothes for each person
Books, games, puzzles, toys and other activities for children
Make a plan
Make and practice a Family emergency plan. Consider the range of potential emergencies and all the places the Family members might be. Family members may not be together when an emergency strikes. Planning ahead for various emergencies will improve the chances of keeping in touch, staying safe and quickly reuniting.
Some emergencies require different responses than others, but a Family communications procedure will be helpful in any case. Knowing how to keep in touch and find one another will help the Family stay safe and cope with the confusion and fear that come when emergencies strike.
Emergencies can arise from weather and other natural hazards, industrial and transportation accidents, disease epidemic and terrorist acts. Anticipate the emergencies most likely to affect the Family and learn about related procedures including the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System. Being informed also means knowing first aid and appropriate response measures. Knowing what to do can make all the difference when seconds count.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What does shelter-in-place mean'
A: Sheltering-in-place means to take temporary protection in a structure or vehicle that is not certified, insured or staffed for emergency conditions. Installation procedures designate which office or party will order personnel to shelter-in-place and for how long the order is in effect.
Preparing to shelter-in-place involves having an emergency kit, being able to turn off heating and ventilation systems quickly and identifying potential interior spaces for sheltering-in-place. Notification of an emergency may be through a voice announcing system, announcements through cellular phones or e-mail, or an Emergency Alert System broadcast over radio or television.
Q: What is a Family Emergency Plan' How do I make one'
A: Your Family also should have a plan for who you will call and where you will go if there is an emergency. When creating a Family emergency plan, consider the range of potential emergencies and all the places you and your Family might be. Talk to your children about what will happen if they are in school at the time of the emergency, and make sure they understand where you intend to be.
Army Families, in particular, need to know what they do if an emergency occurs when their Soldier is deployed. In case you can't reach each other directly by phone or e-mail, have an out-of-state friend or relative you can both contact to leave word that you're okay, and learn the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System to ensure you are ready to report your status. Soldiers downrange need the peace of mind that their Family is safe so they can focus on their mission at hand.
Discuss your plan with the Family and set up practice evacuations or shelter-in-place drills to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency.
Q: I have pets. How can I prepare for them in an emergency'
A: When you and your Family consider plans and provisions for emergencies, be sure to take your pets and other animals into account. Creatures that rely on us in the best of times can't help themselves when disaster strikes. Good advance planning could prevent tragedy, worry and the risks you or others might take to affect a rescue.
Know in advance how you will handle your pets if you need to evacuate. Also, your emergency supply kit should also contain provisions for pets, including food and water, a strong leash, a carrier and veterinary records. Make sure your pets' identification tags are up to date and secured on their collars, and consider micro-chipping your pets. If you have advance warning of an emergency, add a tag with your evacuation information.
For more information on Ready Army and emergency preparedness, visit the Ready Army Web site at http://www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/ra_about.htm.