Three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the Federal Emergency Management Agency designated September as National Preparedness Month to encourage Americans to plan for disasters both natural and man-made.
Jay Fangman, emergency management specialist, said he hopes Fort Campbell residents and employees will take time this month to consider disasters that may affect them and devise a plan should the time come to react.
Preparation before a disaster is key to survival, Fangman said.
Prepare and protect
The theme this year for National Preparedness Month is “Prepare and Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”
In the presidential proclamation issued by the White House Aug. 31, President Joseph R. Biden stated now more than ever, Americans should prepare for natural and man-made threats.
“In the past year, our nation has faced both unpredictable and unprecedented challenges … Becoming more disaster-resilient as a country – and more prepared as a people – is essential for our continued strength and security,” the proclamation reads.
People only need to turn on the news to see why disaster preparedness is important – the wildfires in the west, Hurricane Ida and the recent flash flooding in Middle Tennessee are examples, Fangman said.
To adequately prepare for a disaster, Fangman said, Families should discuss potential disasters with their children and formulate a plan.
“In order to protect your Family and your property you need to prepare before a disaster strikes,” he said. “It’s too late if you wait until after the disaster. By then store shelves are cleared of essential items, and when the power goes out good luck finding a generator.”
The scarcity of certain items is a reality many have struggled with since the start of the global pandemic, which included toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and other items that were cleared from stores in a matter of hours.
Aside from stocking important items in preparation for a disaster, Fangman recommends Families also remember to have a plan for when cellphone towers are unavailable, as with what happened Christmas Day 2020 when a bomb exploded near an AT&T network hub in Nashville, knocking out communication in surrounding cities, including Fort Campbell.
“Cellphone service is not always reliable during an emergency, so everyone needs to know what to do beforehand,” he said.
The four pillars of disaster preparedness are:
•Make a plan.
•Make a kit.
Being informed is imperative to preparing both before a disaster and after the fact, Fangman said.
“Part of being informed is to know the threats and hazards that may impact you,” he said. “In the area around Fort Campbell the major natural hazards we face are tornadoes, winter weather – ice storms – and flooding. Some of the less common hazards are earthquake, wildland fires and public health emergencies.”
The second part of being informed is knowing how to access and receive pertinent information during a disaster, Fangman added.
“Fort Campbell has multiple systems we use in an emergency, ALERT!, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, Giant Voice, the Digital Garrison App and official social media,” he said. “Weather radios and weather apps on your cellphone are also good tools.”
Register for ALERT!
ALERT! is the Army’s chosen system for installations to notify their populace in the event of an emergency.
Weather closures, emergency gate closures and anything that is a threat to life and safety are notifications pushed through the ALERT! system.
ALERT! can notify users through multiple means including phone, text message, email, and pop-up messages via networked government computers.
Common access card holders can sign up for ALERT! notifications through the Fort Campbell Intranet homepage. Users can add Family members to their accounts. When the user moves to another installation, they can transfer the account to their new location.
Accounts can be updated by accessing the ALERT! icon in the bottom right area of a CAC-enabled government computer.
Talk to your children
Reacting to an emergency can be frightening for adults even when they’ve rehearsed a response, so it is even more important to ensure children are clear on what the plan is in case of emergency, Fangman said.
“Make a Family emergency plan especially if you have young children, they need to know what to do in an emergency,” he said. “Teach your children where to go if there is a tornado warning, what is the fire escape plan, where the Family rally points are in your neighborhood and outside of the immediate area. Build an emergency kit that can sustain your Family for at least 72 hours. Have an emergency kit in your vehicle for long trips.”
For more tips on how to prepare for disaster, visit https://www.ready.gov/september.