Planning, rehearsing before emergencies can preserve property, health, life

In this Army News Service file photo from 2012, a wildfire burns through a forest in Larimer County, Colorado. Whether for a large-scale disaster such as a wildfire or flood or for a smaller-scale disaster such as a sudden family medical emergency, making and rehearsing a plan can mitigate problems when an emergency happens. (Army News Service photo by Sgt. Jess Geffre, Army National Guard)

By Fort Benning Emergency Management

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 5, 2017) – Disaster strikes; in the ensuing minutes, the time it takes for someone to decide what to do next may mean the difference between loss and catastrophic loss.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sponsors September as National Preparedness Month, and one of the focuses of the month is planning ahead.

“An emergency situation is a time to react and not to figure things out,” said Tina Sandell, operations specialist with Fort Benning Emergency Management. “Taking steps to prepare beforehand saves needed time that you don’t have when a crisis strikes.”

Sandell’s first recommendation is to stay apprised of emergency situations. The best way to do so at Fort Benning is through AtHoc, an emergency notification system the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning use to reach out to individual users through phone, text, email, or government computer desktop alerts.

Soldiers, civilians, and their families at the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning can register on the AtHoc system to receive alerts specific to Fort Benning. Those with access to a government computer can sign up by clicking the purple AtHoc icon on their taskbar. Those without access that have yet to register may do so by visiting

Once registered with AtHoc, the next step is to think through some basic questions:

  • What emergencies are possible for the location (tornado, flood, fire, or something else)?
  • Is the plan intended for an individual or a family?
  • Does the individual or any family member require special items (medication, diapers or formula)?

Then, the next thing to think through is what some emergency items are likely to be needed. This could include the following: first aid kit, flashlight, spare batteries, all-weather emergency radio, non-perishable food, and bottled water. These and a list of other items can be found at

The list should include both general necessities and all those needs that are particular for those involved in the plan such as lifesaving medication and diapers and baby food for infants, and all those needs that are particular type of emergency such as portable phone chargers for power outages and more. These items should then be available for quick, easy access.

Planning is only part of preparedness. Rehearsal is another major component.

“The most important thing after making a plan is to practice and rehearse the plan with your family to make sure everyone knows where to go for shelter in their home and what their role in the plan is,” said Sandell. “We have plans in the Army; exercising and rehearsing them is critical to ensure everything is in place when a real event occurs.”

Running a practice drill periodically will help ensure resolution of many difficulties and help eliminate mishaps before they happen or before they compound during an actual event.

For more on emergency preparedness or September as National Preparedness Month, visit FEMA’s Ready campaign’s site at

Here is the generalized emergency kit list from the Ready Army campaign (

Suggested basic items to consider for a home emergency kit:
Water—at least one gallon per person per day for at least three days
Food—nonperishable food for at least three days, consider items that do not require cooking and will maintain freshness for several months such as energy bars, freeze dried foods and dehydrated foods
Formula and diapers for any infants
Food, water, other supplies and documents for any pets
Manual can opener
Flashlight, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) battery-powered weather radio, battery-powered cellphone charger and extra batteries or hand crank powered devices
First aid kit and prescription medications
Sanitation supplies such as moist towelettes, disinfectant and garbage bags
Important documents in watertight packaging—personal, financial and insurance—store copies in a separate location (safety deposit box, relatives, or trusted friend)
Your family emergency plan, local maps and your command reporting information
5-Gallon bucket with plastic bags for use as a portable toilet
Cash in small denominations
Additional items can be essential for those stationed abroad:
Birth abroad certificate for children born overseas
Cash in local currency
Card with local translations of basic terms
Electrical current converter
Know the Army Information Hotline number for assistance 1-800-833-6622
Many other items could prove helpful:
Fire extinguisher
Any tools needed to turn off utilities
Matches in a waterproof container
Metal or plastic bowl
Coats and rain gear
Sleeping bags or other bedding
A weather-appropriate change of clothes for each person
Books, games, puzzles, toys and other activities for children
Batteries and cell phone chargers


  • Excellent ideas here. I am in Germany. My wife is still in the FT Stewart area and GOV whats the Deal says she has to evacuate starting tomorrow morning. Yet, GEMA, FSGA, no one seems to be giving a list of places one can go (EVAC Centers) if there is no family/friends in a position to help. There is more information out there on where I can get help with my evacuated horse, than find a hot and a cot. What I would like to know is, can the CG of FT Benning open the post as an evac center, so people can make a plan with a destination, rather than just getting on an evac route until the gas runs out ? Thank-you 1SG(R) T.L.Folsom

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