Officials encourage local residents to ‘learn how’ to prepare for a disaster

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During this year’s National Preparedness Month, Fort Knox officials are encouraging residents, employees and families of Fort Knox to “learn how” and “prepare now” for a disaster.

This year’s theme is Disasters Happen—Prepare Now—Learn How.

“We stress preparedness all the time, but on a national level, it’s that one month out of the year where emergency managers, emergency management coordinators, regional and state agencies stress to communities and individuals the importance of being prepared in the event of a disaster,” said David Fusselman, operations specialist at Fort Knox Emergency Management.

There are five different messages that officials will focus on each week — make and practice your plan; learn lifesaving skills; check your coverage; save for an emergency; and the day of action scheduled for Sept. 15.

Fusselman said there is one easy first step the Fort Knox community can take now that get them on the right track; sign up for emergency notifications.

‘The mass notification systems are only as good as the information we receive,” said Fusselman. “If I have one person signed up in the mass notification system, I can only reach one person. If I can get 10,000 names in there, I can reach out and touch 10,000 people.

“Ten thousand people can then reach out and talk to others. So, the bigger the initial number is, the bigger the secondary effect numbers will be.”

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and many other organizations use a notification system called AtHoc. The system allows users to register smartphone numbers, email addresses and work phone numbers to ensure the greatest chance of receiving alerts.

Fusselman said he didn’t think the registration numbers were bad. In fact, he said at last count, they had approximately 9,000-plus registered on the AtHoc system, with numbers continuing to rise over the past four months.

Fusselman said spike in registrations has at least something to do with the garrison preparedness assessment in July and August.

Currently, the system doesn’t allow those who are not on the Fort Knox domain to register for AtHoc. Therefore, there are a number of retirees, veterans and family members who are not authorized to get the alerts.

Fusselman said there is another way to get registered for alerts, however.

“It’s all those eaches that are not on the Knox domain that have to have their organizations contact me so I can do it through a roster. It has to be done manually. It’s a lot more difficult, it’s not as easy as it is for garrison personnel.”

National emergency officials at ready.gov offer some lifesaving tips on their website.

“Take time to learn lifesaving skills — such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornados. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency,” states the website. “Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.”

The site provides tools for better preparing for disasters, including toolkits, apps and games for youths to play that reinforce preparedness.

Fusselman said September tends to be a slow month compared to other months. Because of this, officials encourage communities to take advantage of the lull to prepare for disasters before they strike.

“I don’t think there’s a complacency issue here. It’s more about making people aware,” said Fusselman. “We have such a diverse community here, from young Soldiers to older retirees. Older folks tend to think more about [disasters] because they may have more likely experienced one. Whereas, younger people may have never witnessed a disaster. Not everybody was around during 9/11.”

When it comes to preparing for disasters, however, Fusselman said military communities tend to understand better how to accomplish the mission.

For more information on preparing for disasters, go to https://www.ready.gov/september. n