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When an Emergency Strikes

When an Emergency Strikes

Plans, Analysis and Integration Office
Fort Campbell, Kentucky

An important part of family safety is having a plan and being prepared in case an emergency strikes. Why? So you can increase your personal sense of security and peace of mind. Preparing just makes sense.

When an emergency strikes, being prepared can save time, property and lives. The first step every family should take is preparing an emergency kit. When assembling the kit, ensure you have essential items necessary to sustain you and your family for three or four days. You may not have time to gather items in the event of an emergency, so stocking items in your kit is a good idea.

Clean water will be the most important item to have on hand. Water is not only important for drinking, but also for preparing foods and for hygiene. Store at least 1 gallon of water for each member of the family, which will give you a three-day supply. Other essential items include:

  • Food (at least a three-day supply) — canned food items, bread/crackers and cereal/breakfast bars. (You may want to consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water in your home.)
  • Items for infants, small children, seniors or disabled persons — formula, diapers, bottles, prescription medications, copies of medical prescriptions, extra eyeglasses and special foods.
  • Kitchen accessories — a manual can opener; mess kits or disposable cups, plates and utensils; utility knife; condiments; aluminum foil and plastic wrap; resealable plastic bags.
  • Battery-powered radio or television, flashlights and extra batteries.
  • A first aid kit — include any non-prescription medications that are regularly used, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotic cream, antacids and a medicine dropper.
  • One complete change of clothing and footwear for each person — include sturdy work shoes or boots, raingear and other items adjusted for the season such as hats and gloves, thermal underwear, sunglasses, dust masks, sunscreen and insect repellant.
  • Blankets or a sleeping bag for each person.
  • Sanitation and hygiene items — toiletries, contact lenses, toilet paper, towelettes, hand sanitizer, liquid detergent, heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and ties, a medium-sized plastic bucket with a tight lid, disinfectant and household chlorine bleach.
  • Other essential items — paper, pencils, needles, thread, a small ABC-type fire extinguisher, whistle, list of important phone numbers, signal flare and masking or duct tape.
  • A map of the area marked with safe places you could go and their telephone numbers.
  • An extra set of keys and personal identification — keys for cars and any properties owned; copies of driver’s licenses, passports and work identification badges.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • A small tent, compass and shovel.

To emphasis the importance of having a plan, I would like to share a personal story. On Sept. 11, 2001, my husband and our family were stationed in Germany. We were spread all over the place, which is something any military family can identify with. My husband worked in one city, two of our children went to school in another and our youngest was with a family childcare provider in yet another. To top it off, I, too, worked in different city.

When our government realized the jets crashing into the Twin Towers was a terrorist attack, the Force Protection Condition, or FPCON, level for everyone was elevated to Delta. No one really knew what was going on. Understandably, there was panic, and the military wanted to take every precaution.

By the time they closed the bases, our two oldest children had arrived home from school, where we lived on the German economy. I immediately left work to pick up our 4-year-old and was told I might not be able to get onto the base. My husband called me to say he had to get his gear, return to work and wasn’t sure when he was going to be able to get back home. He actually ended up being there all night. Since no one knew what was happening, no one really knew what to do either. All I knew was I had to get my children home safely.

When I got to the casern to pick up my youngest, I was told that once I got on I would not be able to leave. I told the gate guard I had to leave since I didn’t live there. I was just picking up my son from daycare and I had to get home to my other two children. Fortunately, he let me go. As the day progressed, however, others weren’t so lucky. Some children were stuck with childcare providers for days since no one was allowed on or off the casern. Families were separated and there was a lot of confusion.

This is just a one example of how something totally unexpected can happen and why you should have a plan to deal with the “what if’s.” Making a plan isn’t complicated; just think of the five W’s — who, what, when, where and why.

  • Who. Gather input from each family member to consider all possibilities. This will make them more likely to remember important steps when an emergency happens. Choose a person (a family member or friend living somewhere else) you can all contact if the need arises.
  • What. Plan for all hazards that could affect your family, considering potential threats and weather patterns in your region. Think through each possible emergency situation and determine how your family should respond.
  • Where. Think about all the places you and your family may be throughout the day, such as home, the office, school and in transit. Establish meeting places and discuss situations when you might use them.
  • When. Because emergencies can happen at any time, make your family’s emergency plan immediately. Update it whenever there are major changes in your family situation, schedule or activities.
  • Why. Emergencies can be scary. By establishing and practicing a family emergency plan, you and your family are more likely to find each other quickly and help one another get through the emergency situation safely and with less worry.

Once you develop your emergency plan, practice it at least twice a year. Practice gathering your emergency kit and important documents, communicating with one another and meeting at a designated location. Afterward, discuss the actions you took and how the plan would change under different emergency scenarios.

For all families, whether they are military or civilian, it is a good to be informed of the emergencies that are likely to occur in your area. Identify the hazards or emergencies that are common and the early warning systems. Familiarize yourself with the area so you will know where to go if you and your family need help or to evacuate. Get to know the emergency plan at your workplace as well as that of the school or activities your children attend. Know what actions they will take and how that will affect you and your family members.

Remember, an emergency can occur at any time, and your family might not be together when it does. Plan what you will do to get in contact with one another as well as how and where you will meet up. Know where you will go in different situations and ensure children know what to do if they can’t get ahold of you. The exact steps you take will depend on the situation, but if you get a kit, make a plan and stay informed, you’ll have peace of mind that you’ve done everything to ensure your family’s safety.

Did You Know?

National Preparedness Month is observed each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The Federal Emergency Management Agency hosts a wealth of safety products, including social media toolkits, articles, posters, videos and much more, at https://www.ready.gov.

  • 3 September 2023
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 155
  • Comments: 0