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When disaster strikes be prepared

  • Published
  • By Col. Nancy Brooks
  • 349th Mission Support Group commander
It's been heartbreaking to watch the news over the past several months. The devastation of the communities hit by tornadoes is fierce and complete. They are coming together as a community and freely expressing their gratitude over being safe, alive and having their families intact. There are very few, if any, areas of our large country not subject to some sort of natural disaster threat. We live in an earthquake rich area at Travis Air Force Base. Much like the tornadoes, they can strike any minute and be minor or devastating. As we practice for the Operation Readiness Inspections we spend our time updating our checklists, clarifying our roles and responsibilities and double checking our essential gear. But what about our homes and our families? When was the last time you ran a disaster preparedness exercise for your home?

It's easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and feel as if there's always time to get things done; like building a disaster preparedness kit for your home or developing a plan for your family. These things slide to the back burner in the midst of school projects, sports activities and work deadlines. However, now is the time to be prepared. Try taking a lazy day out of a weekend or one day from an upcoming spring vacation or a rainy day at home to develop a plan. Get the whole family involved in making a plan, gathering the appropriate information and building a kit.

It feels overwhelming but there are great resources available to get started. Try these websites to start:,, All of these sites have checklists, plans to consider and a list of supplies to gather. One should have in their home a few essential items such as: a communications plan in the event of a disaster to include a meeting point, a disaster kit to include water and food and essential health, insurance and financial documents. This is a simple list but a way to get started.

If you don't want to build a survival kit yourself, check with local stores in the area or online for ready-made kits. Also essential is disaster proofing your home in the event of an earthquake to ensure safety. These websites can help in inspecting your home, identifying hazards and securing specific areas like gas lines and heavy furniture.

Just like the OREs, it's important to practice the plan made. If you have young children, practicing a plan can help to ease fears they may have over disasters. As we all know, practice makes perfect. You may find that you don't have essential medication in your kit or that the meeting point isn't easy to get to or secure. Actually walking through the during and after phases of a disaster will help to hone your plan.

We are all primed in a state of readiness and most of us have been deployed many times. Imagine how it would feel if a large earthquake hit while you were deployed? Wouldn't you want to have the peace of mind knowing that your family was just as prepared at home as you were to deploy?