FORT RILEY, KS – Spring weather in Kansas can be extreme and unpredictable. To help people prepare, Fort Riley’s Emergency Management Office spearheads their Severe Spring Weather Awareness campaign every year following the four main tenants of the Ready Army program: Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, and Get Involved.
The third in a series of five, this article will cover elements of the second Ready Army tenant, Make a Plan.
Make a Plan
To make a plan, individuals should consider the range of potential emergencies and all the places they and their family members might be when an emergency strikes.
“The first step in making a plan is to know what type of emergency or disasters might affect you and your family,” said Chris Hallenbeck, Fort Riley Emergency Management coordinator. “Other things to consider are how you will communicate with each other if separated, what specific or special needs your family has, and what the plan is for your pets, if you have them. Using the Ready Army Family Emergency Plan template is a great place to start.”
Different types of emergencies may require different responses than others, but having a standardized family communications procedure will be helpful in any emergency scenario. Knowing how to keep in touch and find one another will help the whole family stay safe and cope with the confusion and fear that come when emergencies strike.
“Think about contingencies for your whole family and how you can respond if your family isn’t located together. What about if the kids are at school and you are at work?”
To ensure the emergency plan has been thought through thoroughly, ready.army.mil encourages people to remember to consider the 5 Ws:
Who: Gather input from all members of your family to consider all possibilities and make them more likely to remember important steps when an emergency happens. Choose a contact person, a family member or friend living somewhere else whom you can all contact in the case of an event.
What: Plan for all hazards that could affect your family, considering potential hazards and weather patterns in your region. Think through each possible emergency situation, and determine how your family should respond.
When: Because emergencies can happen at any time, make your family emergency plan immediately. Review the plan annually and whenever there are major changes in your family situation, schedule or activities.
Where: Think about all the places you and your family may be throughout the day, such as home, office, school and in transit. Establish meeting places and discuss situations to use them.
Why: Emergencies are unpredictable and scary. By establishing and practicing a family emergency plan, you and your family are more likely to find each other quickly and help one another get through the emergency situation safely and with less worry.
Practice the Plan
Ready Army points out that making an emergency plan is just the first step: the second step is to practice the plan at least twice a year.
Describe a hypothetical event to family members and have them walk through the family emergency plan. Practice gathering your emergency kit and important documents, communicating with one another and meeting at a designated place. Afterwards, discuss the actions you took and how the plan would change in a different type of emergency.
“If our family members, our service members, our workforce, all are looking at being prepared during severe weather season, then that takes a lot of stress off the first responders,” said Hallenbeck. “It also takes stress off those individuals because they are prepared, they’ve thought through it, they’ve taken the measures. When individuals are prepared, it enhances the overall mission readiness for the installation.”
When it comes to severe spring weather, having a plan in place can mean the difference between life and death for you or your loved ones. Ensure your family is informed on potential dangers by visiting https://home.army.mil/riley/index.php/about/dir-staff/DPTMS/ready-army for more information and by following the four Ready Army tenants for preparedness.
Next week’s article, Build a Kit, Part 4, will discuss how you can build a kit to help you weather any Kansas storm.