Although the Atlantic hurricane season has just passed its halfway point, it is never too late to prepare for the effects of a hurricane or any other disaster that could happen. As the Ready Navy campaign continues to engage Sailors and Department of the Navy civilian employees throughout the month of September, it is important to know that everyone has a role in emergency preparedness.
"Ready Navy carries down into the FEMA 'Are you prepared?' and all of the guidance that they have put out to help people make kits and to help them have everything all set," said Deputy Region Emergency Manager Jeff Wilson. "This is the Navy's version for the Sailors to show them what they need to do."
According to the official Ready Navy website, the campaign was created for the Navy community to increase the ability of every person and family on or near Navy installations to meet today's challenges head on and plan and prepare for all types of hazards, ranging from hurricanes and earthquakes to terrorist attacks.
"What we want to do as far as the community is focus on the Navy family, not only the active duty and reserve Navy personnel, but all the contractors and everybody who works on the base being able to know," said Wilson. "In the end, if they are not prepared it hurts just as much, especially with the NDW region being so contractor and government civilian heavy. This has just as much implacability to them as it does to anybody else."
In order to ensure all Navy families are completely prepared for any disaster, Ready Navy uses the slogan "Be Ready Navy! I am. Are you?" to drive home the message that each person is responsible for their own emergency preparedness. Although there are many emergency centers and first responders on and off all installations, the first line of defense happens with the individual.
"Folks need to be able to fend for themselves at least for the short term," said Robert Klebahn, regional program manager for Fleet and Family Support Program. "FEMA says that people need to be prepared to fend for themselves for 72 hours. That is what we teach and hopefully that is what we are helping folks to prepare to do."
According to Klebahn, during a disaster first responders will assess a scene to see where services are needed the most to minimize loss of life and damages. While they are responding to the most critical issues, there are others that might have a delay in the receipt of the services that they need.
"Unfortunately some of the data indicates that not all of our Navy families are prepared as they should be," said Klebahn. "There are as many as 40 percent of our families that are not properly prepared to take care of themselves for that period of time."
Ready Navy specifies that it is the responsibility of all personnel to understand the mass warning notification system at your installation and, when notified, be prepared to evacuate, move to designated safe haven, move to civilian shelter and temporarily sheltering-in-place. These same ideas can be used as a guide when making an emergency plan at home.
An emergency plan should consist of an evacuation plan where a neighborhood and out-of-neighborhood meeting place is established. There should also be an emergency contact list prepared of work, school, home and extended family member's phone numbers and addresses and distributed to each person in the family. For a step by step family emergency plan that can be downloaded, please visit http://www.ready.navy.mil/navycni/groups/public/documents/document/cnicp_a294407.pdf.
"Our Sailors are awesome people and they respond to crisis quite well. I expect that if an incident occurred that they would know what to do or figure it out, and probably would not only help their families but also their neighbors," said Klebahn. "That is something that is really popular and unique to our population but if something does happen, it is so much easier to carry on and carry forward if closer to 100 percent of our families are prepared instead of 60 percent."
Similar to having a family emergency contact list, the Navy uses the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) to provide accountability information to Sailors and their family members. It is used during a disaster to identify where the family is located in relation to a disaster and to identify any needs of families affected by a disaster.
"If a family was displaced or if the family had lost the use of their vehicle or had no money or food then they can indicate that in NFAAS and say, 'this is where I am, this is what I need, I don't have money,'and then the Navy can take action through the Fleet and Family Support Center," said Klebahn.
For tips and guidance in emergency preparedness, please visit http://www.ready.navy.mil/.