As the COVID-19 pandemic has so clearly shown the world, disaster can strike at any time. Preparation and proper planning are key components to ensuring individuals and their families make it through an emergency situation safely.
Whether hurricanes, floods, earthquakes or blizzards, all Americans live in areas susceptible to some sort of natural disaster or emergency. In an effort to promote family and community disaster planning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designates each September as National Preparedness Month.
This year’s campaign theme is “Disasters Won’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” Each week throughout the month of September, the organization focuses on a different area of disaster planning.
Week 1 highlights the importance of having a plan that allows communication with family and friends before, during and after a disaster. Week 2 explains how to assemble a supply kit of basic household items individuals may need after an emergency. Week 3 dives deeper into the different aspects of disaster preparation, while Week 4 aims to teach children the value of preparedness. More information on the weekly themes is available at Ready.gov/september.
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center efforts are part of a larger Headquarters, Department of the Army strategy to use National Preparedness Month to increase awareness of hazards that impact the nation and Army community worldwide. The goal is to improve capabilities Armywide to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from all hazards and threat incidents.
"As the slogan says, disasters won't wait," said USACRC Command Sgt. Maj. William L. Gardner II. "All the Army's locations are susceptible to some kind of emergency, especially hurricanes, tornadoes and snowstorms. That's why we want all our Soldiers, family members and Army civilians to make their plans and be prepared for any contingency, not just in September, but year-round."
Tracey Russell, a safety specialist with the USACRC’s Directorate of Assessments and Prevention, Ground Division, said knowing the disaster risks relevant to your community and installation will help when creating a disaster plan.
“It’s extremely important for Soldiers to assess the risks associated with the geographical area where they live,” Russell said. “Here at Fort Rucker we have an increased risk of storms like hurricanes and tornadoes, while Fort Drum is susceptible to severe winter storms. There is no one-size-fits-all disaster plan.”
Workplaces should also rehearse emergency action plans to remind employees where to go, what to do and what to take in the event of a hazardous incident.
The COVID-19 pandemic can make planning and preparing for disasters even more stressful than normal. Army leadership recommends all personnel review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regarding planning for natural disasters during the pandemic, which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/covid-19/disasters_severe_weather_and_covid-19.html.
Army community members are also encouraged to register for their installation’s mass warning and notification system, which will allow them to receive alerts and updates for security incidents, weather, natural disasters, base closures and other events.
To learn more about National Preparedness Month, visit Ready.gov.