Be Ready for severe weather season

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Although some natural disasters can strike at any time, people in many areas need to be particularly aware of severe weather season which brings increased risk of tornadoes, wildfires, thunderstorms with heavy rain, flooding, and damaging winds.

“Knowing what to expect and how to prepare makes any crisis more manageable,” said Mike Connors, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Emergency Management Division chief.

To help military members and families “Be Ready” for various forms of man-made and natural disasters, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center offers its web site and mobile applications for Android and iOS devices.

The platforms cover everything from basic preparedness for disasters and emergencies, to after a disaster assistance and key resources. There’s even a section specifically for kids to help them understand and prepare.

Connors and his team recommend people begin with three simple steps:

Get a kit – Assemble a collection of first aid supplies, food, water, medicines and important papers that can sustain you and your family until the emergency passes.

Make a plan – Since you and your family might not be together when an emergency strikes, plan ahead to improve your chances of keeping in touch, staying safe and quickly reuniting. Your plan should include things like escape routes, family communications, utility shut-off, caring for animals and elderly family members or those with special needs.

Be prepared – Anticipate emergencies most likely to affect you and your family. This will help guide you and help you think through the basics of preparing yourself and your family.

At Tyndall AFB, Florida, severe weather can happen at any time and may include hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms, damaging winds, tornadoes, hail, flooding and flash flooding, said Maurice Spikes, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management Flight chief at Tyndall.

“The public accessible website or mobile app can educate families on local disasters that may impact their area and also help prepare a plan because they may not be together when a disaster hits,” Spikes said. “Knowing how you will make contact or meet up with one another and reconnect if separated can eliminate a lot of worries parents and children may have after an event.”

While an entire installation takes more time, resources and planning to be weather ready than an individual or family, Spikes said the steps are clear-cut for all 1) Educate yourself on the hazards and threats that may impact your area; 2) Build a plan; 3) Have a way to receive and pass along weather warnings (cell phone apps, weather radio, giant voice, etc.); and 4) Practice the plan.

“Being prepared can saves lives before, during and after the threat passes,” he added.

As an example, in Jan. 2019, three months after Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall, an EF-1 tornado with winds of 90 mph touched down on the installation.

“During that time, we had several thousand Airmen assisting in the recovery efforts and living in field conditions on the installation. The tornado sirens were activated and all Airmen living in tents were safely evacuated to pre-determined permanent facilities so no injuries were sustained,” Spikes said. “Planning and educating the populace on what to do during a severe weather event paid off.”