Health & Safety

July 6, 2012

Be ready: emergency management gets personal

by Capt. John T. Stamm
Air Force Reserve Command public affairs

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.  — In the Air Force, we are used to participating in safety drills designed to teach us emergency survival skills and techniques.

That training started in grade school with fire and tornado drills that provided a nice diversion from class work and matured to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives training in Air Force. Being ready for the worst is nothing new.

However, how many Airmen take that training to the next level and devote time to running drills at home with their families? The answer is probably too few. That’s why the Air Force launched its “Be Ready” campaign.

According to the campaign’s website, everyone should have a plan. Disasters come in many forms – explosions, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and others.

Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and the losses that accompany these disasters. Individuals, families and communities should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a natural disaster. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare makes any crisis more manageable.

The program recommends the following three steps to increase individual disaster readiness:

Build a kit — Assemble a collection of first aid supplies, food, water, medicines and important papers to sustain family and pets until the emergency passes.

Make a plan — Everyone in the family may not be together when an emergency strikes. Decide how to contact each other, where to go and what to do in an emergency. Write down where the family spends the most time, such as work and school, and any site-specific emergency plans that family members need to know. The plan should include escape routes, a utility shut-off checklist, insurance and vital records and other safety guides.

Be prepared — Anticipate emergencies most likely to occur and be ready for the unexpected, such as a tornado in New England.

“The goal of this program is to reduce individual’s vulnerability to hazards that may affect them, their family members, or the installation where they work and live,” said Tom Morris, Air Force Reserve Command emergency management program manager.
The website has several links to important information including basic preparedness, key resources, disaster and emergency definitions and what to do after a disaster.

It also has a section geared specifically for children titled “Be Ready Kids.” This section provides games, puzzles and other activities that educate while entertaining. There are resources for children 4-7 and 8-12.

Master Sgt. Melissa Broussard, AFRC Headquarters Force Management superintendent, implements the program in her home. She said it has been a great learning experience for her daughter.

“She is the one who keeps the plan up to date,” Broussard said. “I think she may be a future emergency management instructor.”
For more information on how to prepare family and home for emergencies and disasters, visit the Air Force Be Ready website, or check with the installation Civil Engineer Readiness and Emergency Management office. Posters, coloring pages and other displays may be available in community areas here such as the base exchange, commissary and fitness center.

(Stamm is assigned to the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio)

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