The city of Killeen is observing National Preparedness Month in September.
National Preparedness Month was founded by FEMA in 2004 and encourages the public to consider its preparedness plan to address unexpected disasters — man-made or natural.
“FEMA chose September for two main reasons. First it is when the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, are highlighted to the nation to stress the importance of being prepared. Second, it is the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season,” said Killeen Emergency Management Coordinator Peter Perez.
The community should know that a “disaster” can present itself in many forms. The city of Killeen defines a disaster as any event that overwhelms local resources. Disasters can include terrorism, hurricanes, floods and more, but also includes events like sports or special celebrations that cause the draining of local resources though increased traffic, crowds, emergency vehicle rerouting, etc.
The city currently prepares for disasters by requiring all staff, especially those that will respond to disasters, to receive emergency-response training guided by FEMA. Periodic training and testing of plans are also conducted at the local and regional level.
“We have developed plans to prepare for and respond to disasters. We have created regional partnerships and mutual aid agreements that can enhance local resources. Regional planning allows for the interfacing of key personnel before a disaster, and builds up our local capabilities by ensuring that more agencies are able to cohesively respond to disaster,” said Perez.
For those living in Killeen, disasters are broadcasted through the city of Killeen’s website, Facebook and Twitter, and the CodeRed mobile alert system . Disasters are also announced through Spectrum cable channel 10 and the sounding of emergency sirens. In more localized events, door-to-door notification might be used.
Preparedness plans should include you, family, and pets, with consideration of medical conditions and financial resources. Perez says that preparedness can be accomplished through the following 5 simple tasks.
Make a Plan. Answer the following: how will you communicate with family if you are separated from them? How will you all get back together if you can no longer go home? What if your cell phone or cell signal does not work?
Start an emergency kit. FEMA suggests that kits contain enough supplies to last 72 hours (3 days). Form kits that will provide supplies to use in case there is loss of communication, medical assistance or police.
Be Informed. Know where to get trusted information in various formats. Follow the City’s social media and sign-up for Emergency Notifications via CodeRED by accessing: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BFB7CC4C6C0A .
Know your neighbors. Our community is far more resilient when it is a community that knows and helps each other.
Educate yourself. Attend year-round training programs that community members can take to be better educated about preparedness.
These training programs are often free of charge and run by Salvation Army, Red Cross and CenTex DART, and others.
“It is important to know that though September is National Preparedness Month, preparedness is a 365, 24/7 action that must be taken to make individuals, families, businesses and our communities more resilient to stresses in life,” Perez said.
Visit ready.gov to learn more about disaster management and how to build a successful preparedness plan.