News: Emergency planning critical
Story by Andrea Stone
FORT CARSON, Colo. First came the fires in Black Forest and Cañon City, then came the floods. When more than a foot of rain fell on Fort Carson Sept. 12, damage was relatively light, compared with other areas around the state. But the recent natural disasters highlight the importance of preparing for emergencies.
“Disaster, whether it be natural or man-made, can strike at any time without warning. Once a disaster strikes, it’s too late to plan,” said Raymond Dunn, plans officer, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
Planning for potential emergencies depends on what threats a region faces.
“Each different geographical area of the United States is susceptible to different threats,” he said. “It’s a good idea to prepare for what your specific area is threatened with. Hurricane, probably not going to be a big threat to Fort Carson.”
There are 14 possible threats to Fort Carson, eight of them significant, he said. The significant threats are extreme heat or cold, severe winter weather, thunderstorm and lightning, tornado, wildland fire, power loss, disgruntled employees or patients and potentially violent situations.
The first steps in emergency preparedness are to set up a plan and put together an emergency kit, Dunn said. Sample emergency plans are available on http://www.ready.army.mil and http://www.ready.gov.
Plans include such things as contact information for Family members, addresses and phone numbers for locations where Family members spend time, insurance information and instructions on how to shut off utilities, if necessary.
Important documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, vehicle registration records and wills should be kept with the plan, in case of evacuation.
“(Families) should put together a plan in case they get separated,” he said. “They should have a plan that addresses what happens if their spouse is out … due to mission requirements.”
An emergency kit should include basic supplies, such as flashlights and batteries, food, water, clothing, medications and pet supplies. A list of suggested items is available on http://www.ready.army.mil and http://www.ready.gov.
“Preparedness not only means for the initial (crisis). It means preparing for possibly longer term,” Dunn said.
Extra supplies of necessary medications are particularly important in the event of a prolonged crisis, he said.
With winter weather around the corner, Families should also put together an emergency kit for their cars with blankets, gloves and hats, flares and other items that can sustain them in the event they’re stranded.
“In the United States … we have no major threat on our borders, so we take it for granted that we’re (safe),” Dunn said. “We do face natural and man-made threats at any given (point) without warning.”
The importance of planning for emergencies is critical for all community members.
“We have to take an active role in keeping (ourselves) and our own Family safe,” he said. “Readiness is everyone’s responsibility, not just emergency managers. It is a community and an individual responsibility as well.”