Four things to do before a disaster strikes

Natural disasters can happen anywhere, to anyone. That’s why U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart community members are encouraged to take a few simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes and offices, and while traveling. USAG Stuttgart is a member of the 2012 National Preparedness Month Coalition and joins more than 16,000 private and 450 military organizations who have “Pledged to Prepare.” This year marks the ninth anniversary of the annual National Preparedness Month campaign. The theme for this year is, “Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Get Involved.”

Learn your risks and responses

Be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur in the Stuttgart area, and their appropriate responses. Many events can trigger emergency situations with the potential to escalate into disaster. Hazards such as power outages or disease outbreaks can happen anywhere at any time, so you should become familiar with the spectrum of possible dangers and how you will be notified about them. It is also important to give special consideration to hazards likely to affect your local area, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes or severe winter weather. Living abroad presents additional preparedness challenges and sometimes, less familiar hazards like volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

While the potential threats can seem overwhelming, keep in mind that most of what you address in your family emergency plan or put in your emergency kits will be useful, regardless of the hazard. And in many cases, the same protective alternatives apply  — evacuate or shelter-in-place.

Make a family communications plan

Make and practice a family emergency plan. Consider the range of potential emergencies and all the places you and your family might be. Some emergencies require different responses than others, but a family communications procedure will be helpful in any case. Knowing how to keep in touch and find one another will help your family stay safe and cope with the confusion and fear that come when emergencies strike.


Build an emergency supply kit

When disaster strikes, emergency responders address the most critical needs and may not be able to get to an area until it is deemed safe. While they work on behalf of the entire community, it is your responsibility to ensure your family’s well-being during times of crisis. Emergency kits are essential tools for meeting that challenge. To prepare your family for an emergency, get one or more emergency kits that include enough supplies to meet your essential needs for at least three days. Think reusable and multi-use. A metal bowl can do double duty as a cup and saucepan. A brightly colored poncho can be used as water repellent clothing, a marker and two together can create a temporary shelter. Keep a kit at home, and consider having kits in your car and at work. These kits will enable you and your family to respond to an emergency more quickly. Your various emergency kits will be useful in case  you have to evacuate or shelter-in-place. Check with your local officials for any other specific items that should be included in your kit.

Be sure to rotate your items periodically, ensuring nothing is expired when the need comes.

Get involved in preparedness in your community

Getting involved in the preparedness of the community can be accomplished in many ways.  Volunteer to support the community in support of disaster efforts. Start a community preparedness project with friends and neighbors. The whole community can participate in ensuring that their homes, families, and communities are prepared.

For more information, visit these websites:

• Ready Army:

• U.S. Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System:

• American Red Cross:

• Citizen Corps:

• Family Readiness Group:

• Federal Emergency Management Agency:

• Ready Campaign :


A communication plan protects your family

Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Emergency Plan and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends. Keep a copy of the plan in your emergency supply kit or another safe place. Cut out the contact information cards and keep them in a readily accessible place such as a wallet or backpack. Your emergency planning should also address the care of pets, aiding family members with access and functional needs and safely shutting off utilities. Practice your plan at least twice a year and update it according to any issues that arise.

How to build an emergency kit

A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them. You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days. Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages. Each family or individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents.

Recommended supplies to include in a basic kit

– Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation

– Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

– Battery-powered radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both

– Flashlight and extra batteries

– First aid kit

– Whistle to signal for help

– Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant

– Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

– Dust mask or cotton T-shirt, to help filter the air

– Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

– Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

– Can opener for tinned food

Clothing and bedding

If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat.

Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:

– A jacket or coat

– Long pants

– A long-sleeve shirt

– Sturdy shoes

– A hat and gloves

– A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

Additional supplies to consider

– Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or a print-out of the information on

– Rain gear

– Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils

– Cash or traveler’s checks, change

– Paper towels

– Fire extinguisher

– Tent

– Compass

– Matches in a waterproof container

– Signal flare

– Paper, pencil

– Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies

– Disinfectant

– Household chlorine bleach — You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

– Medicine dropper

– Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.