Being prepared is everyone's duty. As HURREX/Citadel Gale 2012 takes place this week and next, it is imperative that everyone knows what they can do to be ready for destructive weather such as hurricanes.
Over the last two centuries, tropical cyclones have claimed the lives of approximately 1.9 million people. The United States have had its own costly reminders of the strength of hurricanes, notably in 2005 with the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina, which killed nearly two-thousand and caused 108 billion dollars worth of damage, the costliest in American history.
"The main priority for Sailors is keeping themselves and their families safe," said Jeffrey Wilson, Naval Support Activity Washington's (NSAW) Emergency Manager. "Being informed and prepared for an emergency can reduce injuries and deaths during an incident."
Although the destructive power of a hurricane can be tremendous, there is still plenty one can do to mitigate it and ensure their family's safety. According to the U.S. government's website Ready.gov, one should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
An emergency kit is simply all of the basic items that one would need during a disaster. Supplies collected should last at least three days, as although disaster relief would be working to help those affected, it takes time. Food, water, a weather radio, flashlight and a first aid kit are just some of the recommended items.
NDW, and the Navy as a whole, considers the safety of its Sailors and their families to be the highest possible priority, especially during violent weather. Therefore, there is a large emphasis in all Navy commands on security and accountability before, during, and after destructive weather. The Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) is a key part of this accountability. The Navy uses the NFAAS to account for Sailors and Navy families, as well as to identify disaster-related needs of Navy families. Sailors and their families should ensure their information is up to date in NFAAS. (NFAAS Website https://navyfamily.navy.mil)
"Accountability is another important part [of disaster preparedness], making sure information is kept updated on NFAAS, and reporting in when directed lets commands quickly determine if all of their personnel are safe or what assistance they require," said Wilson.
Being prepared is especially important for a armed force like the Navy. As Sailors are required to be ready at a moment's notice to respond to threats around the world, hurricanes and more specifically not being prepared for hurricanes could impact combat efficiency and operational readiness.
"Not being prepared could lead to additional injuries and deaths, as well as damage to installations and facilities that wouldn't have occurred otherwise," said Wilson. "By leaning forward and taking appropriate measures before a storm, risk can be reduced, lives saved and damage avoided. The less clean-up and damages that occur, the quicker the Navy can get back to operations and focus on combat readiness."
As HURREX/Citadel Gale takes place this week, it is important to revisit one's own personal methods of readiness. Although the exercise is there to make sure the Navy is ready as a whole for hurricanes, it's each individual Sailor and their families' responsibility to make sure that they are ready too.
The Naval Safety Center has information on preparing for destructive weather which can be found at http://www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen/Documents/media/safetips/f-m/hurricane.doc
More information on Navy Family Emergency Preparedness can also be found at http://www.cnic.navy.mil/ CNIC_HQ_Site/WhatWeDo/FamilyLine/FamilyPreparedness/index.htm.
Information on how to form an emergency kit and make other preparations for hurricanes can be found at http:// www.ready.gov/hurricanes.