MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS - 10/2/2012) -- "I was riding on a
bus watching kids walking home from school when the earthquake hit
us," Staff Sgt. Alicia McQuay, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron
emergency management NCO in charge, reminisces. "One minute,
everything's normal, the next minute kids are running around
screaming and I'm wondering, what is going on."
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Michael Adams, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management apprentice, teaches his two daughters how to dial their home number and the emergency number, 911 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 15, 2012. Teaching children what to do during any emergency is part of the preparation process. U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
It was this sort of story that designated September as
the National Preparedness Month, an annual campaign to raise
awareness on importance of disaster awareness. Stories like
this one recounting the March 11, 2011, earthquake caused
the Adams family to take action when they found themselves
on Japanese soil 11 months after the event.
husband and father of two little girls, Airman 1st Class
Michael Adams, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency
management apprentice, made it his duty to have his family
prepared for any natural disaster that may come their way.
Since he worked in the Emergency Management department,
he was already a step ahead of the game.
about the Federal Emergency Management Agency and their
http://www.ready.gov/. He knew that his co-workers were
constantly updating their Emergency Management Facebook
with weather warnings, 'How To' guides and 'Q' s and A' s'.
He even knew the Red Cross provided people with programs and
classes the EM department didn't have the manning to hold.
The challenge for him was making sure his family knew
and understood these things. Adams followed the five easy
steps to get his family as prepared as he was.
Step 1: Know the hazards
Being in the military can mean moving around and
adapting to different environments. However, adapting to the
environment doesn't just mean growing accustomed to the
local culture, but becoming familiar with the potential for
natural disasters in the local area as well.
example, earthquakes are a big thing in Misawa, while in
Wisconsin, they're practically non-existent.
"Educating yourself is the first step to protecting
yourself," said McQuay.
Step 2: Plan for natural disasters
educated, the next step is to apply this knowledge and come
up with a plan to be prepared for any natural disaster.
According to FEMA preparedness pamphlets distributed by the
EM department and the Red Cross, depending on the
circumstances of the situation the most important decision
to make is whether to stay put or evacuate.
common sense and the information provided by these two
organizations, coming up with a plan for both scenarios will
make ensuring everyone's safety probable.
forget, when coming up with a plan, to stay tuned to your
local resources, such as the Commanders Access Channel and
the American Forces Network. During a disaster, they may ask
that you stay in the immediate vicinity or evacuate to a
pre-determined area. Should you need to evacuate, it is
important to be familiar with the local area, said McQuay.
When it comes to pets, speak to the local veterinarian
for local policies during these situations.
Step 3: Prepare for the disaster
By visiting your local EM and Red Cross offices and FEMA
websites, you will find it pretty easy to build a disaster
supply kit and develop an emergency plan.
Step 4: Build an emergency kit
The basic supply kit should consist of:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least
three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic
sheeting and duct tape to make a shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phones and chargers, preferably the ones that take
- Unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications,
infant formula or diapers and important family documents
Step 5: Practice your plan
The last step is to practice your emergency plan. This is
especially important for families with small children. Although
children may listen to their parents' directions during an emergency
situation, they may not actually understand what is being said to
them. This can easily put the child at risk of panicking and not
knowing what to do when the time comes for him or her to act, said
The EM NCO suggests having your child go through
emergency drills and actually walking down stairs and waiting
patiently at the playground for an adult. This way the child has a
better chance of retaining the information.
McQuay. "When a disaster happens it's not going to be when you want
it to happen, but when you least expect it."
with McQuay. That's why, to better protect his wife, two little
girls and the family bunny named Strawberry Shortcake, he's built
two emergency kits.
"I've got one in the house and one in the
car," Adams boasts.
To some people, it may seem a bit much
and unnecessary. But to Adams, nothing is more important than
setting his family up for success and survival.
youngest daughter in his arms and his oldest playing at his feet, he
adds, "Besides, it's a big boost of morale being prepared for
something this unpredictable. With my family taken care of, my wife
and I don't have to carry unnecessary burdens and I can focus on my
By USAF Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
Air Force News Service
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