FORT BRAGG, N.C. - If a natural disaster were to hit Fort Bragg right now, would your Family be prepared' What about your work or even the rest of the community' Emergencies affect thousands of people every year and our military and civilian organizations respond quickly. But you need to be prepared to protect yourself, your Family and your property.

This September marks the seventh annual National Preparedness Month. NPM, sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council, is a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness on the importance of preparing for emergencies at home, work and the community. According to the Ready Campaign's website, 2010 will be focusing on the "encouragement of Americans to work together to take concrete actions toward emergency preparedness."

In order to create awareness and preparedness within the Army community, Ready Army, which seeks to inform Soldiers, their Families and Army civilians how to prepare for all emergencies, was developed in September 2008. The Ready Army website assists in preparedness in various ways. The website recommends having an emergency kit put together, making a plan for communication to help with the confusion during emergency, and staying informed.

Fort Bragg is committed to ensuring Families are prepared in case of an emergency. There will be displays at the North and South Post Exchanges this week showing items required for your home emergency kits.

Fort Bragg is also hosting a "Get Ready Fort Bragg" artwork and essay contest for elementary and junior high school students. The artwork (for grades 2 to 5) and essay (for grades 6 to 8) should focus on being prepared and is for volunteers only. Students can submit drawings and a 500 word essay that explains their personal experiences on how their Families are prepared for an emergency or what steps they have taken to become prepared. Entries are due at any Fort Bragg school by 1 p.m., on Oct. 1. Entries should have the student's name, age and parents' contact information. Winners will be announced late October. Schools can call the Directorate of Plans, Training, and Mobilization at 396-4125 to pick artwork and essays.

Ready Army's first step in becoming prepared is to put together an emergency kit. A home emergency kit should include water, nonperishable food, formula and diapers for infants, food and supplies for any pets, a manual can opener, flashlight with extra batteries, sanitation supplies, any important documents in watertight packaging, your Family emergency plan, and anything else that may be needed in an emergency.

Creating a Family plan will enable everyone in the Family to cope with the confusion and fear of different types of emergencies. Think about what each Family member is capable of and certain tasks they should be assigned in case of an emergency.

Choose a person to meet or contact if your Family is separated during the emergency. Plan for all types of hazards that could potentially happen in you area and determine how your Family should respond. Don't forget the possibility of all the places your Family may be during the day if the emergency happens during work, school, or activities. Emergencies can happen at any time and sometimes when we least expect it, a Family emergency plan is needed as soon as possible. Remember to review the plan annually for any major changes in the Family's situation.

Emergencies can be very scary, the more prepared you are, the quicker you'll be able to get through the emergency safely.

Remember to stay informed. Emergencies can arise from weather, industrial or transportation accidents, disease epidemic or a terrorist attack. Know what hazards are mostly likely to affect your Family and learn about each one to protect each other. Learn about the emergency plans for Fort Bragg, as well as the surrounding community. Being informed also means knowing first aid and appropriate response measures.

Stay involved with your community by volunteering to be a member of the Community Emergency Response Team for your area. The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations in order to assist residents in your housing area after a disaster (as part of the recovery effect). To learn more about CERT, visit www.citizencorps.gov/cert or attend the Community Information Fair on Sept. 28, at the Fort Bragg Club.

Emergency preparedness is everyone's responsibility. With the support of Fort Bragg and Ready Army providing the needed tools and checklists, Soldiers, their Families and Army civilians will know what to do when an emergency strikes, which will save time, property and, most importantly, lives.

For more information, visit Ready Army's website at www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy, or National Preparedness Month website at www.ready.gov.

Page last updated Thu September 16th, 2010 at 15:05