News: Hurricane preparedness: Keeping an emergency from becoming a disaster
Story by Senior Airman Susan Davis
WASHINGTON - If a hurricane is on its way, it’s coming—ready or not. Preparing in advance could keep an emergency from becoming a disaster for you and your family. When an emergency strikes, knowing what to do can save time, property and lives.
Last year, Hurricane Irene proved to be one of the costliest hurricanes on record for the Northeastern United States, racking up an estimated $7 billion in damages.
The Aug. 28, 2011 dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in D.C. even had to be postponed due to the forecasted hurricane. Thousands of sandbags were filled and placed in flood-prone areas on JBAB and in the District.
In the event of an evacuation for a natural disaster with warning, such as a hurricane, fewer than half of U.S. residents are completely or mostly prepared with the things they will need, and about 45 percent of parents do not know the location to which their child would be evacuated as part of their school’s disaster plan.
Put together an emergency kit with essential supplies for survival. A basic emergency supply kit should include at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation purposes; minimum three-day supply of non-perishable food items; a battery-powered radio and a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both; a flashlight with extra batteries and a first aid kit. For a more extensive list of supplies to keep in an emergency kit, log on to www.fema.gov.
"Create a household disaster plan if you don't have one already,” said Darryl M. Hart, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Office of Emergency Management. “Plan for family members to meet at a place away from your residence in case you are separated. Choose an out-of-town contact for everyone to call to say they are safe. Talk to household members and be sure everyone understands the plan and knows where to meet and who to call if you are separated.”
Prepare multiple emergency plans for a variety of disaster situations; know what to do, where to go, who to call, etc. Discuss your emergency plan with everyone in your family, and practice your emergency plan and update it every six months.
“Also, do not rely on being able to use your cordless telephone because it requires electricity to operate,” said Hart. “At least one telephone in your home should be a regular touch tone device.”
Be informed; know what emergency situations are most likely to affect you and your family, learn your local emergency warning system, and educate yourself and your family on the different ways to prepare for a disaster.
Hart also suggested making a record of personal property. Take photographs or videotapes of belongings and store these documents in a safe place.
Here are some steps to prepare for a hurricane from www.fema.gov:
• Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with about 5/8-inch-thick marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
• Install straps of additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
• Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed.
• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and down spouts.
• Determine how and where to secure your boat (if you have one).
• Consider building a safe room.
Finally, if the order to evacuate comes down, heed the warning—refusing to evacuate puts emergency workers in danger.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, log on to www.fema.gov, or call your local emergency management office.