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Preparation best disaster defense

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By LYNSIE DICKERSON
Gold Standard Off Duty Editor
lynsie.m.dickerson.ctr@mail.mil
Spring may mean snow and ice storms are no longer issues, but with warm weather come new threats. To increase the Army community’s readiness for severe situations, the Army created the Ready Army campaign.
“Ready Army is a campaign to make people aware of disaster preparedness,” said Dave Fusselman, emergency management operations specialist at the Installation Operation Center.
The four building blocks of the campaign are be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved.
Be informed
A person should know what kind of potential for disaster exists where he or she lives, Fusselman said. When it comes to weather, the biggest threat to this area of Kentucky includes high winds, lightning and hail, said Mark Adams, supervisor meteorological technician at Fort Knox Weather Oper-ations. Tornadoes also occur, although those are not as common, he said.  
Part of being informed is knowing the difference between a watch and a warning.
“A watch means a lot of ingredients are in place to make severe weather,” Adams said. “A watch means it could happen, keep a watch out for it. A warning actually means something is on the radar and is heading for us.”
In the case of severe weather, people should take shelter, Adams said, adding that a good place to stay might be a basement, the lowest point in a house, the best reinforced structure or somewhere away from windows. People should also think about where they would seek shelter if not at home when severe weather hits, he said.
Storms can also be safety hazards to Soldiers training outside.
“We’ve got Soldiers with metal helmets, metal guns and metal tanks out there in the open,” Adams said.
Lightning advisories are issued when lightning is within 20 miles of the reservation, within 10 miles of the reservation, on the reservation and within five miles of the airfield, Adams said, adding that it is important to regard these advisories.
“A lot of times the military mentality is ‘I’m tough, I’m a Soldier, we’ve got to push through a training, go through the tough stuff,’” Adams said. “We’re taught to do that and we’re supposed to be mentally tough and physically tough, but Mother Nature doesn’t care who you are. Whether you’re out mowing your grass at your house or training, lighting’s lightning, and we need to respect it.”
The Fort Knox weather center also issues moderate and severe warnings for local wind speed. Since Soldiers can only jump out of planes when the wind is at certain speeds, it is important for Soldiers to have more accurate information than the National Weather Service might provide for the county in general, Adams said.
When it comes to severe weather, there are many ways people can stay informed.
Although sirens may sound, a person shouldn’t rely solely on the sirens to notify him or her of severe weather, Fusselman said. For weather information, people can watch local television channels and the community access channel, listen to the radio, visit the Fort Knox website, call 624-5653 for weather updates or call 624-KNOX for information about the status of the installation. People can also use smartphone apps to check the weather and receive weather-related notifications.
Anyone with a Common Access Card can access the weather sensor on the airfield, which shows all active warnings, at https://owsjet15.us.af.mil/portal/private/GuestFtKnox/Sensor, Adams said.
Make a plan
Whether a person is a single Soldier living in the barracks or a member of a family living in quarters, he or she should have a plan in case of an emergency, Fusselman said. Since phones—both landlines and cell phones—don’t always work during disasters, it is important for people to know how they will contact friends and family to let them know they’re all right. It is also important to know where to meet in case people get separated, he said.
Make a kit
To further prepare for disasters, people can make an emergency preparedness kit. The kit should contain enough supplies—like food, water, medications and tools—to last at least three days.
“You design (the kit) for what you think you’re going to need in the event that something happens,” Fusselman said. “Everybody’s kit is going to be a little bit different.”
Ready Army recommends items such as water (at least one gallon per person per day for at least three days), nonperishable food, prescription medication, cash, a first aid kit, a radio, a flashlight, batteries and important documents, just to name a few. A full list of items can be found at Ready.Army.mil.
“We ask you to put these kits together, have your own preparedness kit,” Fusselman said. “In the event that there’s a disaster, you can help yourself, which is going to help the first responders, which is going to help everybody else. It lessens your need for immediate response to your own situation, if it’s something that you could literally handle on your own if you had the resources to do it.”
This allows first responders to focus on assisting people who may be in more serious need of help.
Get involved
The Ready Army campaign challenges people to maximize awareness and encourage disaster preparedness in their communities. By volunteering, people can help prepare their communities, build capacity for first responders and increase the resources available in the communities, the Ready Army website states.
Fusselman added that volunteer activities don’t necessarily have to be disaster-related, but just being involved in the community may make it easier to receive information in the case of a disaster.