FORT KNOX, Ky. — This time of year is especially prone to disasters, and disaster can strike at any time.
September is designated as National Preparedness Month to encourage people to think about what they can do to mitigate the potential after-effects of those crises.
“There are a finite number of first responders on and off the installation, so when a disaster occurs, those teams have a limited number of personnel,” said Fort Knox Emergency Operations specialist David Fusselman. “If we can do the little things like making a kit to sustain ourselves for 72 hours or have a good plan in place to stem the tide of emergencies and are informed on applicable regional disasters, it tends to help those first responders, receivers, organizations get to those most in need first.”
Fusselman stressed that by encouraging people to be prepared, we allow those emergency response teams to provide better quality service.
Another layer of preparedness is found in this year’s theme: is “Preparing for Older Adults.” According to Fusselman, it reminds people that there are certain groups who may be at higher risk when disaster strikes.
According to Ready.gov, it’s important to look out for those “living alone, are low-income, have a disability, or live in rural areas.”
It is also important that older adults understand all resources available to them, said Fusselman, including a strong support network, and that they tailor plans to meet additional complications due to disabilities or serious medical conditions, or potential technological communication gaps.
Emergency preparedness officials recognize that Kentucky is not going to experience the same natural disasters as locations like Florida or North Dakota. Because of this, Fusselman said it is crucial to build an emergency plan and prioritize potential needs based on the individual’s surroundings. The first step to being prepared is to keep informed on what is happening at the local level.
“A disaster is often defined as something that overwhelms a community and its resources, so it is important to help our neighbors, friends and family, in addition to ourselves,” said Fusselman. “Let’s not forget about our extended family and the animals we take care of. We tend to forget about them in our planning processes.”
Tools such as emergency kits, communication plans and shelter plans are all great ways to stay ahead of the curve. Ready.army.mil and ready.gov are helpful resources to find out more on how to build those tools and how to craft them based on specific needs.
“Just like life insurance companies advertise,” Fusselman said, “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
“People often think they’re not planners, but we make plans all the time…we drive to work, plan what we’re going to do after work, plan what we are going to make for dinner,” Fusselman concluded. “While it may not be written down, the planning process is normal and a part of our everyday lives, so we just need to tap into that.”