FORT KNOX, Ky. – The annual campaign designed to remind residents of the need to always be prepared for emergencies is again underway. This year’s theme, “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love,” focuses on the family.
Each September, National Preparedness Month is recognized to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning throughout the year. According to Emergency Management operations specialist David Fusselman, the goal is to increase engagement of community members in preparedness actions at home.
“By teaching your family preparedness, you’re not relying on one person at the house that knows what to do,” said Fusselman. “Whether it’s a medical alert or a fire or other emergency, somebody in the house always knows what to do.”
Each week this month is dedicated to a different focus of preparedness, which is detailed at www.ready.gov. Fusselman explained there’s one good place to start.
“The first step is to have some type of plan,” said Fusselman. “That’s always what I tell people: have some kind of communication plan, some type of plan to get back together should something happen. Have a meeting place.”
Fusselman said while it’s important to plan ahead, it’s also crucial to know just what you need to be planning for. He advised to be proactive and get informed.
“Know what types of disasters can happen,” said Fusselman. “Service members tend to move around a lot, so the disasters that can happen here are not the same ones that could happen somewhere else.”
Fusselman urged military Families arriving to Fort Knox from different duty stations to familiarize themselves with Kentucky’s common weather patterns and apply that knowledge to their preparedness plans.
“We are certainly capable of getting a tornado here even though we’re not in Tornado Alley,” said Fusselman. “We do get straight line winds here and in the winter, you’re probably going to see a lot more ice here than you will see snow. That can be a lot more treacherous than snowfall can be.”
Another aspect Fusselman mentioned is one to consider, particularly when large scale emergencies happen such as major weather events, or even terrorist attacks.
“Don’t forget about your extended family,” said Fusselman. “Think about those who don’t necessarily live where you do but will be worried.”
Fusselman pointed out that true preparedness, however, extends even further.
“It’s not just about disasters,” said Fusselman. “Know what types of crimes are prevalent in your area, make sure you lock your vehicles, and don’t leave things outside to protect them from being stolen.”
While planning is a big part of the message, Fusselman said another key is knowing the different ways to find information, including how to receive notifications of any important occurrences.
“We have a lot of systems on Fort Knox to get information out,” said Fusselman. “One is the tornado sirens, and another is the giant voice. The problem is that they aren’t designed to hear inside your home, especially if the house is noisy when they go off.”
Fusselman said there is a way all people in the area can virtually guarantee they’ll be notified.
“The one thing everybody has on them is their cellphone,” said Fusselman, “but I don’t know your number unless you register for alerts.”
Part of this year’s big push is ALERT registrations. Fusselman encouraged all Fort Knox residents and those affected by the alerts to sign up for the installation’s emergency mass notification system by visiting the alert services website.
Fusselman pointed out the added benefit for service members who sign up for alerts is that when they change duty stations, they can simply log in and switch notifications to come from their new installation. He said all military posts use the same system.
When it comes to preparedness overall, Fusselman expressed one of the top considerations to take into account is to plan accordingly in the event a first responder can’t immediately get there to help.
“The more people that are taking care of themselves during a disaster, [first responders] can focus on where the needs are most urgent,” said Fusselman. “It eliminates the immediate need for support when there are only a finite number of responders available.”