Disasters don’t plan ahead; you can

National preparedness month

The 31st Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management office and the American Red Cross educate the Aviano Air Base community about disaster preparedness at the Aviano Base Exchange, Sept. 20, 2017, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. September is National Preparedness Month focused on educating people how to be ready and know what to do in case of disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan Brooks)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

During his senior year of high school, he watched images online as people he knew carried children in plastic boxes and rowed themselves through the flooded streets as Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans.

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, disaster preparation is everyone’s mind. September is National Preparedness Month and is hosted by the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron’s Emergency Management office. The theme this year is, “Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.” The 31st CES Emergency Management office is spreading the message to help prepare families for the unexpected and educate everyone in the event of a disaster.

“National Preparedness Month revolves around three concepts,” said Capt. Ryan Amedee, 31st CES, readiness flight commander. “Get a kit. Make a plan. Be prepared.”

A go-kit or disaster-kit, is a bag with essential items which is ready to go at a moment’s notice. It includes: water, non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, medicine, pet supplies, local and U.S. currency, legal documents and anything else that you and your family needs until you reach a safe destination.

In addition to the go-kit, you need to have a plan. Pre-coordinate an evacuation route for your family to meet and have phone numbers that any family member can access, such as your children’s school or spouse’s work.

“The best way to be prepared is to plan ahead of time,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Hill, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge of emergency management plans. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

Finally, be prepared for anything and especially occurrences which are more probable. Tornadoes and earthquakes are a possibility here, but Aviano’s most plausible threats are thunderstorms and flashfloods.

“It only takes six inches of fast-moving water to carry a person away and 12 inches of fast-moving water to move a vehicle,” said Hill. “We advise everyone to turn around and find a different way if you can.”

Most of us will only see a disaster in the movies, but for some people it’s all too real.

“When I was a senior in high school I had to relocate to Houston when my school was under 17 feet of water,” said Amedee. “Most people didn’t have a go-kit, they did not have a plan to evacuate and they weren’t ready at all. That is the reason why this is so close to my heart and why I believe in it so much.”

The 31st CES Emergency Management office is teaming up with the American Red Cross from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday of September at the Base Exchange to answer any questions and to hand out pamphlets to help educate the Aviano community.

For more information to build disaster plans and kits, visit www.beready.af.mil.