Natural disasters have struck military installations across the world in the last few years. From typhoons in Japan to wildfires in California to the catastrophic flooding currently being experienced in South Carolina, an added dimension to frequent military moves is the possibility of an emergency. Here’s some tips for getting prepared now, just in case!
In addition to the normal challenges of emergency situations, military families often have the additional complication of not being very familiar with the area (especially during the first few months on an assignment) nor having extended family nearby as an option for help. The key to minimizing the impact of natural disasters on your finances and health is to plan!
Build A Kit
Having access to the right supplies can make all the difference in an emergency. It is key to put together an emergency kit and regularly check and freshen the supplies it contains. A basic preparedness kit would include food, water, a first aid kit, a weather radio and any medications family members might need. You might also want to add a change of clothing or at least cover like a poncho and other weather appropriate protection. If you have pets, don’t forget to include supplies for them!
FEMA recommends keeping a kit for your home stored somewhere easily accessible so it can be quickly grabbed if you have to evacuate. Additionally, you should consider smaller kits to keep in your car or other places you may be caught in.
Your Family’s Plan
When you move to a new installation, it’s time to review and revise your family emergency plan. Establishing emergency contacts (like an out of town family member who can be the contact hub if you get separated and can’t reach each other), figuring out where the family should meet if you can’t get to your home for some reason and identifying local resources should all be periodically updated — and reviewed by all. Don’t forget that frequent moves may make it difficult for kids to remember the plan if things get scary. Keep laminated contact cards with both local and stable long distance contact information in their backpacks and let them know where that information is kept! For an emergency plan template, check out ready.gov.
In addition, it is important to research your installations’ policies and procedures regarding natural disasters. What are the likely potential severe weather possibilities and how does your installation warn people?
For example, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri is home to contingents from every service and happens to be in an area with frequent tornado activity. The garrison has developed an extensive early warning system via sirens and a widespread speaker system. To maintain the system, there are weekly tests – which make it simple to identify those who have recently moved to the area when they come outside bewildered by the very loud, disembodied voice echoing all over the Post!
The time get your paperwork in order is before you need it! Whether you rent or own, know exactly what your insurance covers and doesn’t cover in the event of a disaster like widespread flooding. What information will you need to file a claim? Are there any resources immediately available to help your family feel stable immediately after a catastrophe. Consider some kind of cloud based digital storage to keep copies of important documents accessible even in the event of a natural disaster.
Don’t forget, you need to know what you have in order to claim it! A home inventory is an essential piece of your protection plan.
Your mobile phone can serve as a vital tool (and one of your only ones!) when things are going terribly wrong. But, you may have a limited usage in the confusion immediately after a catastrophic event. Here are some ideas for how to best utilize your mobile devices!
- Texting may be your best communication option when lines are super busy. Create a “phone tree” where you arrange with a family member to keep that person updated with your situation and they will update other family members.
- Set up emergency text alerts through your installation, city or state.
- Utilize mobile banking apps – having access to accounts and documentation on your smart phone can save you valuable time.
We want to know:
What is your biggest worry when it comes to emergency preparedness?