JBPHH Emergency management asks: Are you ready yet?

Dan DuBois

JBPHH Emergency Manager

On the evening of March 10, many of us were riveted to our televisions watching the drama unfold in Japan as tsunami waves picked up cars and ships like so many toys, crushed homes, took many lives, and caused an untold amount of damage.

Then the sirens went off here in Hawaii. Cell phone service failed as many people overloaded circuits with non-emergency calls, and traffic was tied up as people scrambled to purchase supplies and fill their cars up with gas. This gave chaotic testimony to the lack of preparedness of many members of our community.

The JBPHH Emergency Operation Center was inundated with phone calls from people seeking emergency information. Some of the questions were: “Was the base evacuating? Where do we go? What do we do?”

As part of the lessons learned from this event, JBPHH Emergency Management (EM) is embarking on an education campaign to help the JBPHH community to be better prepared for emergencies. JBPHH EM will be providing information through multiple venues to help the JBPHH population be better prepared. So let’s start with the basics. There are three things you need to know: “Be informed,” “have a plan” and “make a kit.” Be informed

What are the local hazards, where do you get emergency information, where can you shelter? To help you gather this information, JBPHH EM is hosting a series of open house meetings around the joint base in May. The meetings are from 6 to 7 p.m. on May 9, 10, 12, 16 and 18 at various locations. (See the info box on page A4.) Navy and Air Force housing residents are encouraged to register for one of the meetings in advance at: http://www.eventandexerci se.com/homepage.php?even tid=92

During the presentations, information will be presented on: local hazards and mitigation strategies, preparing a family emergency plan and building an emergency kit. The presentations will also address the differences between tsunami evacuation zones and hurricane flood zones, evacuation zones and routes off the joint base, where to get emergency public information specific to the joint base during an emergency, and finally, Safe Haven and shelter procedures.

Preparedness materials from FEMA’s “Are You Ready?” campaign and the new JBPHH Quick Series guides on Emergency Preparedness will be given to attendees.

In the meantime, those who need emergency information should call the Joint Base Straight Talk Line at (808) 421-4000 or visit the Joint Base Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com /JointBasePearlHarborHic kam.

Have a plan

Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for a disaster. Remember, we are on an island 2,500 plus miles from the mainland where everything comes in by ship. FEMA recommends planning for three days, but because of our island location, it is recommended that you plan for seven days.

Using materials that you received from one of the open houses or downloaded from www.ready.gov, explain to children the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes and other likely disasters. The site www.ready.gov has activity books for children of all ages and you can use those books to help your children to plan. Plan to share responsibilities and work together.

Find the safest place in your home to shelter-in-place. This would be an interior room with no windows. A storage place under the stairs makes a good hurricane shelter.

Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Where will you go? Where is the closest shelter and what do you bring? Check out at least two available routes to take to get there. Have family rally points and pick at least two places to meet. Suggestions are right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, or outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

Your plan should also cover what to do when your children are out of your home or at school. Talk to their teachers regarding what is the school policy in an emergency. What happens if the school is locked down? Finding out the answers to these questions in advance will help you keep calm in a stressful situation.

(Watch the May 13 edition for Ho`okele for the third step, make a kit, and emergency phone numbers and websites everyone should know. The May 27 edition of Ho`okele will feature a special hurricane pullout section.)

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Category: News