By Kisha Johnson, Robins Public Affairs / Published August 31, 2020

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, GA —

The 778th Emergency Services Squadron at Robins Air Force Base is encouraging the community to heed the warning of this year’s National Preparedness Month theme: Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.

The Coronavirus pandemic serves as an example to everyone about the importance of being prepared in the event of an emergency or crisis.

“Look at the way so many people panicked over toilet paper during the spring with COVID-19,” said MSgt. David Rodriguez, superintendent of the 778th Civil Engineer Squadron.  “It was ridiculous.”

“National preparedness month is a call to action for every American to think about where they are in terms of their individual or family preparedness,” said Rodriguez. “It is important to make a plan and put together a kit.”

The awareness month was created in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On that day, the nation was caught off guard when al-Qaeda members hijacked four U.S. commercial airplanes and crashed them into each tower of New York City’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon building in Washington and a field in Shanksville, Pa.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency established National Preparedness Month three years after 9/11 to put emphasis on preparing for the unexpected,” said Randy Ray, operations manager, 778th CES. “For Robins Air Force Base and our area we have threats from thunderstorms, which people do not take serious. People think that type of weather happens a lot that it is no big deal, but those storms kill people and leave folks in inconvenient situations.”

Another reason FEMA selected September for promoting preparedness is because this month is the most active period of the hurricane season. Hurricanes are notorious for creating torrential rains, which can produce flooding along with tornadoes.

In July 1994, Tropical Storm Alberto brought severe flooding to Robins and left thousands of homes in Middle Georgia without water or power for several weeks.

Because such weather can happen quickly, people need to be prepared, Rodriguez said.

“You want to put together a kit where you can stay in your house at a minimum of three days and that is basic-entry level preparedness,” said Rodriguez. “Know your area. Whether it is an earthquake or tornado-prone area, think about how long you could be cut off from supplies and decide if you have enough food and medicine to take care of yourself and all of your family.

Rodriguez said a basic emergency kit should include non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, flashlights, matches and candles.

Rodriguez also suggested visiting the Base Exchange or any retail camping section of a store for supplies to create your emergency kit.

“Sure you can get by with a can of beans in your cupboard, but there is so much better stuff to eat these days,” he said. “They have freeze dried survival packs with delicious meals that all you add is boiling water and some of them have expiration dates in 2040”.

Even though time is of the essence, emergency officials say do not feel pressured to create your survival kit in one day. Instead, build it up over time by getting the basics first and then adding other must have items that are pertinent for your family.

Ray said families should also have a relative or friend who lives in another state to serve as a “check-in person”.

“When an emergency hits, people will grab their cell phones and try to call local numbers and those local cell towers will be overloaded and you won’t be able to reach family members,” said Ray. “So, to get around that, have every person in the emergency area call the “check-in person” and let them know where you are, if you are okay or if you need help. People don’t think about things like that. But, it’s simple to do. Just put the plan into action.”

For more detailed ideas on how to prepare for a disaster or what to include in an emergency kit visit the Ready.gov link http://ready.gov