WASHINGTON, September 1, 2015 — Tomorrow marks the start of National Preparedness Month, and while preparedness calls for year-round attention, it is a good opportunity to remind Defense Department personnel and their families to be prepared at all times to respond quickly to disasters and emergencies, the acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security said.
The scope of national security readiness includes being prepared for any type of crisis in the workplace and at home, Tom Atkin said in a recent interview with DoD News.
National Preparedness Month culminates Sept. 30 with America’s Preparathon! Day, which Atkin described as a “day of action” for the DoD workforce and families to exercise their emergency plans. This year’s national preparation theme is, “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”
Mission Readiness is Key
“Preparedness is the shared responsibility of our entire nation,” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work noted in an Aug. 21 DoD-wide memorandum.
“Preparing individuals, families, components and installations for disasters and emergencies — from flooding to an active shooter — ensures the strength of our workforce and our ability to continue to safeguard U.S. security,” Work said in the memo.
The deputy defense secretary noted that national preparedness campaigns provide a “recurring opportunity” to take action before a crisis, “which contributes to fostering a culture of preparedness and to strengthening our resilience.”
What DoD Personnel Can Do
DoD’s preparedness campaign encourages personnel and families to participate this month in three key ways:
— Take action: Know your hazards, create an emergency communications plan and build an emergency kit;
— Be counted: Have your organization complete the DoD survey at defense.gov/prepare, and register your action at ready.gov/prepare; and
— Spread the word: Tell others about your actions and encourage them to take part.
DoD will also emphasize crisis and disaster awareness, emergency communication planning and developing family plans for these hazard themes throughout the month:
— Sept. 1 to 5: Floods;
— Sept. 6 to 12: Wildfires;
— Sept. 13 to 19: Hurricanes;
— Sept. 20 to 26: Power outages; and
— Sept. 27 to 30: Lead up to Sept. 30 America’s Preparathon! Day.
Staying Prepared at Work
In the work environment, employees must be aware of evacuation routes, shelters, and have a ready-to-go kit, Atkin said, adding that personnel can plan for emergencies with supervisors and co-workers.
And when DoD personnel are assured their families are prepared at home for a crisis, it adds to mission readiness, he said.
Staying Prepared at Home
Families should prepare by keeping a kit with 72 hours’ worth of food, water, medications and up-to-date essentials, such as flashlight batteries, he said, adding that the kit should be kept in an easy-to-access place.
Supplies and necessities should be ready to go in a moment’s notice for each family member and every pet at home, Atkin advised.
“The reality is in a natural disaster, families will have to care for themselves the first 72 hours,” he said.
Other details to consider are having gas in the car, Atkin added.
Making advance plans for pet care is part of family preparedness, to keep them safe and secure, with plenty of food, water and medications as needed, he said.
Family preparedness planning should also include communicating with relatives, friends and the service member’s chain of command, Atkin said.
“Preparedness has a much broader scope,” than preparing for those in the same household, he said. “And know what they’re doing, too.”