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Nation Preparedness Month: ‘Prepared, Not Scared’

(FEMA courtesy graphic)

(FEMA courtesy graphic)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

National Preparedness Month, observed every September, is a time for Airmen and their families to plan and prepare for potential natural disasters likely to strike their area.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared this year’s theme as “Prepared, Not Scared.” According to their website they want to “encourage parents, teachers, and caregivers to visit Ready.gov/kids so they can teach our youth what to do when a crisis occurs, and how to take preparedness actions together.”

Historically, tornadoes, thunderstorms and minor floods are the common concerns for Oklahoma. Although major earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes are not likely, Airmen need to be ready for anything.

According to John Lindell, 14th Flying Training Wing occupational safety manager, people should have a plan prior to a disaster striking. The planning needs to include where to meet, what to do and how to communicate. Supplies should be on standby as well.

For supplies, Lindell said every individual needs a gallon of water for each day they think they will be without electricity, as well as food, and tools to start a fire.

“Water, food, shelter in that order,” Lindell said. “Generally, we find ourselves with just tornadic-type activity so we’re only going to get a couple of hours’ worth of warning rather than days or weeks of warning.”

He said tornadoes are a great threat to Columbus, and they come at random times. Although meteorologists can predict when tornadoes may occur, they never know for sure.

Also, it is important to know the difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning.

A tornado watch means the conditions are right for a tornado to happen. A warning is when a tornado has been seen or is about to land. During a warning, there is typically a wailing siren and people should take cover.

If the tornado is near, Airmen should follow their plan.

It is safest to take cover in a sturdy building at the lowest level. While there, Airmen should take cover by getting on the ground and covering their head until the tornado passes.

After it passes, listen to a weather station on the radio for updates. If someone is trapped, it is best they make noise by banging on a pipe or wall, rather than yelling, to avoid breathing in dust.

Phone systems are often down or busy after disasters, and calls will need to be made only for emergencies to preserve battery. Social media is usually the most efficient way to communicate with family members and loved ones.

During cleanup, it is safest to avoid power lines and damaged buildings. People should wear thick shoes, long shirts, as well as pants and work gloves.

People should plan ahead to increase safety of others’ lives and their own. Disasters can happen at any moment and Airmen must be ready at all times. Remember be “Prepared, Not Scared.”

For more information regarding natural disasters, visit www.Ready.gov or www.FEMA.gov.