Be Ready to Weather the Storm

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Reanna Hartgrove
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing

The 916th Air Refueling Wing is in the midst of hurricane season and it is important to make sure our personnel and their loved ones are well informed when it comes to their safety.

As reservists, it is imperative to pay attention to the resources in the immediate area, as well as at the local base. Thankfully, Emergency management along with 916th ARW Safety work to put out resources and campaigns to keep personnel informed about all the potential hazards.

The Be Ready Campaign is a resource put out by the Air Force Emergency Management Program which focuses on how to be prepared for every type of hazard. According to the campaign, there are three simple steps you can take in order to prepare for many hazards, including hurricanes and other weather-related emergencies.

“It’s good to have something similar to the military concept of a 72-hour bag with the basics of what you would need if you did have to evacuate,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Merrill, 916 ARW Readiness and Emergency Management specialist. “You should absolutely have a go-bag (72-hour bag) because you never know when you might need it.”

According to Merrill, it is important your go-bag or kit contain items such as a change of clothes (warm clothes, closed-toe protective shoes and gloves), basic toiletries, first aid supplies, medications, non-perishable foods and documents including identification, health insurance cards and contact numbers for insurance companies. A kit provides basic supplies for survival needed until help arrives in case of getting stranded or having to shelter in place for an extended period of time.

The next step in staying ready is to make a plan. The Be Ready Campaign explains having a plan helps ensure you and your loved ones are safe, remain in touch, and are able to quickly reunite if disaster strikes while you are apart.

“The most important part is to know what your plan is,” said Merrill. “Talk through and review it so that you will be able to execute that plan.”

A plan can outline escape routes, meeting locations, how you will maintain contact with loved ones, and what specifically to do in each type of emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages plans to be practiced with your family and loved ones at least once a year, or when information from a previous plan changes.

The final step in the campaign is to be prepared. This looks like anticipating emergencies most likely to affect your area, such as wildfires or weather-related events, and acting accordingly.

As weather related watches and warnings begin to occur ahead of a significant weather related event, it is good practice to secure outdoor items by either moving them inside, or anchoring them in place outside. Depending on the type of weather expected, it is advised to board windows to prevent debris from breaking them. Lastly, to keep food at a safe temperature, adjusting the thermostat in the refrigerator is recommended when power outages are possible. Refrain from opening the door to extend the life of your food.

Different actions may need to be taken depending on where you are on the hurricane timeline. FEMA explains the importance of knowing the terms used to describe changing hurricane conditions and being prepared to take appropriate action. They also dive more deeply into what actions are appropriate at what times on their website.

“The most important thing is to look at your resources and read through them,” said Merrill. “It is important to know where to look for information whether it is available through social media or being issued by the military, state, or federal government.”

FEMA suggests signing up for local alerts and warnings and to monitor local weather reports. 916th ARW Emergency Management and Safety continue to release resources through squadron representatives and 916th ARW social media in order to aid in proper preparation. In addition to the Be Ready Campaign, Merrill and other emergency management personnel are resources for anyone who may want to call with questions or concerns.

“Families, reservists, commanders, anyone that's got a question,” stated the four-year emergency management specialist. “I am at my desk 24/7 and I put my number in the signature line of my email so I’ll take calls from anybody,”

For more information, FEMA has resources on their website and mobile app to help you prepare prior to an emergency, as well as find a shelter closest to you if necessary. Also provides a method to help you create your family's plan. For local plans, check with city, county, and state websites for ways to be ready.