Life is full of moments – both the expected and unexpected, which is why it is important to prepare for whatever life throws your way.
September is National Preparedness Month, a month recognized to promote family and community disaster response and planning. As Fort Hood’s chief of force protection, Dan Spencer said the first thing people should do is create an emergency preparedness plan.
“When we’re making our plan, we’re considering our families. We’re considering what to do with our pets,” Spencer said. “We’re considering our own survival – what we’re gonna do, what we’re gonna eat and what we’re gonna drink.”
Spencer recommends everyone test their plan by turning the lights out in their homes and seeing what everyone does. He said most people try to find a light source, such as a candle or flashlight, but they need to make sure they have a way to light the source. A candle is not going to be useful if there isn’t a lighter or matches and a flashlight is not going to be useful without working batteries.
“If you can’t see anything, that in itself can be terrifying. Make sure you always have a flashlight,” Spencer said. “Once you make a plan, you want to build a kit.”
Fred Corbin, the emergency management specialist for Fort Hood’s Directorate of Training, Mobilization and Security, said every basic emergency kit should include bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle (to signal for help), manual can opener, local maps, garbage bags, plastic sheeting, duct tape, pliers, screwdrivers, AM/FM radio with battery backup, blankets and items unique to one’s specific family (prescriptions, diapers, infant formula and important family documents). Home kits should include enough supplies for each person for at least three days.
“Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles,” Corbin suggested.
Corbin recommended people keep their emergency kit in a designated place at home. At work, he said a person should be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. A work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, all stored in a grab and go case. A vehicle kit should be everything needed in case a person is stranded. Besides the items previously mentioned, a vehicle kit should also include jumper cables, ice scraper, blanket, maps, flares, reflective triangles and a cell phone charger.
“Think about what you need if you have family and pets,” Spencer said. “What do you need to survive a minimum of seven days?”
People are directly affected by both natural and man-made hazards. Natural hazards that could potentially affect Central Texas include wildfires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, drought and severe weather, among others. Man-made hazards could possibly include cyber threats, bombings, active shooters and chemical threats, among others.
In the event of a threat on Fort Hood, Spencer said people can rest assure knowing someone is always monitoring the installation. He said Fort Hood is unique in that it has both and Emergency Operations Center and an Installation Operations Center, which monitors suspicious activity and alerts the community.
One of the ways they notify those living and working on the installations is through AtHoc, an emergency mass-notification system, which will alert people via phone call, text or email in the event of an emergency situation, including extreme weather conditions. People can sign up for AtHoc by calling Fred Corbin, emergency management specialist for Fort Hood’s Directorate of Training, Mobilization and Security, at 254-553-2782.
Those without AtHoc will be notified via the Fort Hood website, https://home.army.mil/hood/index.php, or by listening to the “giant voice.” Fort Hood’s mass warning system consists of 27 giant voice towers, which will notify the installation in the event of an emergency, along with public address systems located inside buildings. Spencer said the notification may not always initially identify the threat, but will let people know if the installation is on lockdown, if there’s a tornado in the area or any other emergency situation.
For more information regarding an emergency preparedness kit, visit the Ready Army website at https://ready.army.mil or through the Federal Emergency Management Agency website at https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
In the event of an emergency, all Army-affiliated personnel need to report their status to their command at the first available opportunity. Corbin said if internet connectivity is available, check in online with the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System, https://adpaas.army.mil, and report the status of the entire family. For those without internet connectivity, reporting can be done by calling the ADPAAS hotline at 1-800-833-6622 or through Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647.