Preparing for life’s unexpected moments means readiness when disaster strikes.“You’ll never know when a disaster will occur,” Fred Corbin, the emergency manager for Fort Hood’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said. “The Winter Weather Storm that impacted the Central Texas community in February 2021 is a prime example.”
September is National Preparedness Month, recognized around the country to help promote family and community disaster response and planning. At Fort Hood, Corbin said Soldiers and families should begin by discussing their emergency plan and making an emergency kit. The 2021 theme, “Prepare to Protect,” has been broken into weekly themes to focus on one specific topic each week, which will make it easier to create emergency preparedness kits.
Week one is “Make a Plan,” which Corbin said involved talking to your family and figuring out everyone’s needs, including any pets. He also recommended people take into consideration any dietary or medical needs.
“When making that plan, there are some things you need to take into consideration,” Corbin told Soldiers attending his Ready Army briefing on Aug. 17 at Howze Auditorium. “If you’re not home, and your loved ones are in the house, do they know what to do? Do they know where to go?”
One of the big things to consider is how to protect vital information, such as birth certificates, marriage license and passports. While some choose to protect those items in a safe, he said others keep those sensitive items in a freezer, to protect them in case of a fire. When making a plan, people should also consider emergency contacts and evacuation routes.
“Rehearse your plan with your family members,” he added. “It does no good if you know the plan, but nobody else knows about it.”
Week two is “Build a Kit.” While many people think one kit is sufficient, Corbin reminded people that disasters do not just occur at home, they can occur anywhere. People should have an emergency kit at home, work and vehicle.
“Someone may ask, why would I have one at my job? If you were here for one of the active shooter events, we were stuck in the building until 2200 (10 p.m.) at night,” Corbin told the Soldiers. “If I’m a person on medication and I was expecting to leave work at 4:30 p.m. and I don’t have any more medication, I might be in trouble.”
Basic emergency kits should include bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, whistle, manual can opener, maps, garbage bags, plastic sheeting, duct tape, AM/FM radio with backup batteries and blankets. From there, Corbin said the kit should include items unique for the family. Families with infants should include diapers, wipes and formula. Families with daily prescription needs or other medical needs should include any medicine or dietary food items specific for their needs. Families with pets should include food, water, bowls and medications for the family pet.
Corbin encouraged people to include enough food to last everyone in the family at least 72 hours, and check expiration dates on food and medication and rotate those items out at least every six months.
“Make sure you keep your home kit is in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. For your work kit, be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a grab-and-go case,” Corbin explained. “Have an emergency vehicle kit in case you are stranded. Keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car, along with additional automobile items such as jumper cables, ice scraper, blanket, map, flares/reflective triangle and cell phone charger.”
The week three theme is “Prepare for Disaster,” which Corbin said includes man-made and natural disasters. He said man-made hazards consist of active shooters, cyber, bombing and chemical threat, to name a few.
Natural disasters change depending on where people live. People along the Gulf coast need to prepare for hurricanes, while people in northern United States often need to prepare for snow. Natural disasters common for Central Texas include wildfires, floods, tornadoes, droughts and severe weather.
“Across different areas, the weather and terrain is different. One of the things of being informed is knowing your environment,” Corbin added. “We are a military that’s all about preparedness. Before we deploy anywhere, we prepare; before we do anything, we prepare.”
In the event of an emergency on Fort Hood, individuals will be notified of an incident via the installation-wide Mass Warning Notification System. Fort Hood has 27 giant towers that will send out messages in the case of an emergency.