Screen shot by Emily Mihalik

Malanya Westmoreland, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall emergency management specialist, discusses emergency preparedness during the Sept. 17 JBM-HH town hall.

Make a plan; prepare for emergencies

As September ends, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community should remember this month is National Preparedness Month.

Making a plan is vital for a family because not everyone may be together if disasters strikes, so it’s important to know which types of disasters could affect the area, according to www.ready.gov.

“Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated,” according to the site. “Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.”

Step 1: Individuals can put a plan together by discussing the questions below with their family, friends or household to start their emergency plan.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?
  5. Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit?
  6. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and update my emergency plans due to Coronavirus.
    • Get masks (for everyone over 2 years old), disinfectants and check my sheltering plan.

Step 2:  Consider specific needs in the household.

As families prepare for their plans, tailor the plans and supplies to the family’s specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss the needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets or specific needs like operating medical equipment. Families should create their own personal network for specific areas where they need assistance. Families should keep in mind some these factors when developing their plan:

  • Different ages of members within the household
  • Responsibilities for assisting others
  • Locations frequented
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
  • Languages spoken
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals
  • Households with school-aged children

Step 3: Fill out a Family emergency plan

Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to create one for the family. To download a plan, visit www.ready.gov.

Step 4: Practice the plan with the family/household

According to www.ready.gov, after an emergency, individuals may need to survive on their own for several days. Being prepared means individuals should have their own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that a household may need in the event of an emergency.

A Family should make sure the emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find and any one of them could save a life.

To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items that should be easy to carry in containers such as plastic bins or a duffle bag.

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food (at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Since spring of 2020, the CDC has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu, according to www.ready.gov.

Consider adding the following items to the emergency supply kit based on individual needs:

  • Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  • Prescription medications
  • Nonprescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for the family pet
  • Cash or traveler's checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

After assembling the kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  • Replace expired items as needed.
  • A family should re-think their needs every year and update their kit, as their family’s needs change.

Since disasters don’t occur at the most convenient time, individuals should prepare supplies for home, work and cars. When a Family is home, each Family member should be aware of the location of the kit. If a Family member is at work, he or she should be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. The work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case. Individuals should also keep an emergency kit inside of their vehicle if they are stranded.

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.gov.

Compiled by Catrina Francis

Pentagram Editor