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Preparation key to surviving fall severe weather

Published: October 3, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 3, 2014) -- Fall’s cooler temperatures have hit Fort Rucker, but officials warn the respite from the heat brings the danger of severe weather.

Tornadoes traditionally increase during the spring and fall months, but other dangers like thunderstorms, lightning, flooding, and icing accompany them, according to Willie Worsham, Fort Rucker emergency manager.

“With the transition of the seasons, the polar front jet stream starts pushing further southward and starts pushing frontal systems farther south,” Worsham said. “It creates pretty much the same thing we see in the spring. The fronts will come through, and during the fall the gulf is still open and still has moisture being funneled up into our area, and with the colliding of the two air masses you can get volatile weather out of it – severe thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes.

“The key to successfully navigating Mother Nature’s nastiness is preparedness,” Worsham said.

“Make sure that you have a plan. Go on the Ready Army site – it gives you all kinds of information on what to expect, how to make a kit, how to get prepared for the very things that occur around here – spring and fall severe weather seasons and even hurricane season.

“Army Ready is a good site you can use to help you make a plan,” he added. “There are forms on there, checklists and what actions you should brief your Family on, like designating a rally point if something happens to the Family home.”

The Ready Army website lists the steps you should take to help keep your Family safe during times of emergency.

The first step is to be informed. Many emergencies, like power outages, disease outbreaks and manmade accidents can happen anywhere. But certain disasters are more likely in some places than others.

At Fort Rucker, a blizzard is less likely than a hurricane, so the first information residents should gather is how to prepare for severe weather caused by hurricanes.

Ready Army suggests people should understand the local mass warning systems that officials will use to inform them on weather conditions. At Fort Rucker, the agencies that warn of natural hazards are the National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Part of being informed is knowing how to receive information from these agencies. It is a good idea to have a backup way of receiving information in case a primary system goes down.

Being informed also means people knowing where evacuation points are located in the event they cannot get home or their current location becomes unsafe. Ready Army suggests people also know what circumstances would require evacuation, and when they should shelter in place.

Accountability is a key part of the Army, and in a disaster this does not change. People should know the way they will contact their unit and receive instructions in the event of a disaster.

The next step is to make a plan. Ready Army suggests that people keep their plans practical and tuned to likely disasters that they might face. People should take the information they learned in the first step and talk about what their Family plan is in each different disaster scenario. People should plan how they will react if it is a weekend as opposed to a workday, if their children are at school, or if an evacuation is ordered and sheltering in place is no longer an option.

Building a kit is the next step in Ready Army’s list. A kit is nothing more than the supplies that people and their Families will need over a three-day period. That is the estimated time it might take to clear roads, restore power or have emergency crews reach people.

After a disaster, emergency responders will address critical needs first and might not be able to get to people right away. A disaster kit will allow people to take care of themselves and their Families, freeing up emergency responders to focus on the critically injured and restoring infrastructure.

Ready Army suggests people have multiple kits in different locations, like their car, office and home because they never know where they will be when disaster strikes.

The last step is to get involved. The Army has joined the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency in “America’s PrepareAthon!” This is a nationwide campaign to increase emergency preparedness and community resilience.

Ready Army has many ways for people to join their community in making it a stronger, smarter, and better prepared place to live.

People can find out more at www.rucker.army.mil/readyarmy.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/135284/

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