22 September 2016
September is National Preparedness Month Do You Have a Plan?
Col. Bob O’Brien, USAG Fort Detrick Commander

If you watch the news you have seen so many recent headlines about natural disasters; floods in Louisiana and locally in Ellicott City, tornados ripping through the Midwest and even earthquakes causing destruction in Oklahoma and Italy. Communities and lives will never be the same as a result of these events, and the level of disaster should cause you to stop and ask yourself if you are prepared if a disaster hits.

September is National Preparedness Month, and I believe this is a perfect time to sit down with the family to examine your current emergency plans, or come up with one if you don’t have it, should an emergency arise. I encourage everyone to consider the tips below and take action on at least one item.

As we have seen, storms or earthquakes can hit without warning, and there’s a good chance your family may not be together. Knowing this, it’s important to make a plan on how your family will communicate with one another.

A good idea would be to create a pocket phone list for everyone in the family that includes work and mobile numbers, email, social media contact information. Consider including the numbers for local medical facilities, doctors, service providers and, if you have children, for their school. This is a great tool for everyone in the family to carry in their backpack, purse or wallet. You can also have a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.

For your home, sit down as a family and decide on an emergency meeting place. Talk about where a safe, familiar place your family can go for protection or to reunite. Think about places like a neighbor’s house, the library, place of worship or the home of a friend.

Just like we plan and train in the military and the government, it is useful to plan and practice emergency drills with your family. Nothing can prepare you for the shock of a devastating storm or earthquake, but practicing evacuation drills and going over what to do will help alleviate panic and ensure everyone is operating from the same plan.

I encourage you to go to www.Ready.gov, which has tools, tips and information to assist in making sure you are equipped to deal with an emergency.
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