NEWS | May 30, 2014

Prepare for the unexpected

By Kevin Robinson DeCA public affairs specialist

May 20, 2013, Moore, Okla., home to 50,000 people on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, was struck by an F5 scale tornado, with winds in excess of 200 mph. Fourteen years earlier, Moore had also been the destination of an epic F5 tornado May 3, 1999, this one going down in history clocking winds of 318 mph - highest ever recorded.

Natural and manmade disasters can strike anywhere at any time. And with the start of the U.S. Atlantic hurricane season June 1, the Defense Commissary Agency is reminding its patrons that they can save money by visiting their local commissary for the items they need in their survival package.

"You should always be prepared for power outages, disruption of water or the possibility of an evacuation connected with a natural storm or manmade crisis," said Randy Chandler, DeCA's director of sales. "We want our patrons to know that the commissary has partnered with its industry suppliers to offer savings for their emergency supplies."

Since April 1, an assortment of items has been reduced in price as part of DeCA's severe weather preparedness promotional package that runs until Oct. 31. The package includes the following items: beef jerky and other assorted meat snacks, soup and chili mixes, canned goods, powdered milk, cereals, batteries, airtight bags, weather-ready flashlights, tape (all-weather, heavy duty shipper and duct), first-aid kits, lighters, matches, lanterns, candles, hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. Specific promotional items may vary from store to store.

This preparedness emphasis parallels the peak activity for both tornadoes and hurricanes in the United States. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, covering the North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Tornado season runs from April to July.

In 2013, there were 261 weather-related disasters worldwide according to the Climate Central website, www.climatecentral.org, of which 41 events each resulted in more than $1 billion in damage. The No. 1 weather event was flooding.

On May 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a less-active season with a 70 percent chance for about eight to 13 named storms, three to six of which could become hurricanes; and one to two are expected to be major hurricanes. However, the NOAA's predictions cannot pinpoint a hurricane's potential landfall - if at all - weeks or months in advance, according to their website: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2014/20140522_hurricaneoutlook_atlantic.html.

"Unfortunately, disasters rarely come with an exact schedule of when and where they will occur," Chandler said. "So, it's prudent to be prepared for any emergency."

Preparedness officials suggest having a disaster supply kit that includes the following items:
· Water - at least one gallon daily, per person (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
· Nonperishable foods - canned meats, fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, raisins, cereal, crackers, cookies, energy bars, granola, peanut butter, and foods for infants and the elderly (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)
· Paper goods - writing paper, paper plates, paper towels and toilet paper
· Cooking items - pots, pans, baking sheet, cooking utensils, charcoal, a grill and a manual can opener
· First-aid kit - including bandages, medicines and prescription drugs
· Cleaning materials - bleach, sanitizing spray, and hand and laundry soap
· Specialty foods - diet and low-calorie foods and drinks
· Toiletries - personal hygiene items and moisture wipes
· Pet care items - food, water, muzzle, leash, carrier, medications, medical records, and identification and immunization tags
· Lighting accessories - flashlight, batteries, candles and matches
· Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
· Duct tape, scissors
· Multipurpose tool
· Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies)
· Cell phone with chargers
· Family and emergency contact information
· Extra cash
· Emergency blanket
· Maps of the area
· Blankets or sleeping bags

For more information about preparing for emergencies, visit the following websites: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php; the Centers for Disease Control, http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/supplies.asp; the Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.