Experts say make a kit, have plan for hurricane season

| May 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sarah Pacheco
Staff Writer

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Hawaii is a tropical paradise, but it is not immune to the effects of natural disasters.
“We live in an area that is known as the ‘Ring of Fire,’ and there are earthquakes and volcanic activity happening all around us, every day,” said Joe Barker, installation management emergency officer, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
“Living in Hawaii is not like living in the mainland; we cannot just go to the next state over and get help,” Barker continued. “The nearest help to us is 3,000 miles away, and it would take 96 to 140-plus hours for help and supplies to get to the islands by air or boat.”
Hurricane season in the Central Pacific Region runs June 1-Nov. 30; however, Barker reminds that disaster planning should be part of everyday life. The best way for service members, families and civilians to turn awareness into action is by being informed, making a plan, building a kit and getting involved.
“Planning and building a kit should be discussed with the whole family, so everyone understands what to do and when to do it,” said Barker, adding that families should practice their emergency plan at least twice a year, and discuss ways to improve it, too, for different scenarios.
“You don’t know when a disaster is going to strike,” Barker warned. “You need a kit, now. Don’t wait until after to wish you had done it. Make one now.”
Barker also suggested families create more than one kit to store in the car and at work, and to rotate out items that become expired or damaged.
“If you don’t have a kit, you will need to depend on others, and they may not have what you need to get you through the disaster,” Barker said.

What’s a hurricane?
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that has the potential to bring violent thunderstorms, waves and winds exceeding 155 miles per hour. In some situations, these may further result in tornadoes. Power outage and flooding are secondary hazards that even those not situated in the hurricane’s direct path may encounter.
Hurricanes can be catastrophic to coastlines and impact those living several hundred miles inland, making it necessary, in certain situations, to evacuate to a shelter or safe haven.
If you are told to evacuate, Barker said to follow the guidelines given regarding times and routes, take only your emergency kit and other essential items, follow the designated evacuation procedure and expect a high volume of traffic.


Where’s shelter?
USAG-HI has several safe havens in place on Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, Fort Shafter, Tripler Army Medical Center and Helemano Military Reservation. However, if you live off-post, it is advised you report to your area’s nearest public emergency shelter.
All Oahu Army installation emergency safe havens are for short-term use only. You can expect to remain in your assigned safe haven for approximately 12-24 hours, or until the all-clear signal is given.
The safe haven is set up to accommodate your family only during the time the storm is actually on land, so it important that you and your family arrive prepared.
“Even in paradise, disasters happen; the chance is always there,” said Barker. “And we know from recent emergencies that everything shuts down. That’s not the time to gather supplies. If you prepare now, you’re going to have a kit, you’re going to have a plan, and so long as you have power, you can watch the news to stay informed.”
(See next week’s “Hawaii Army Weekly” to learn what to do during the hurricane.)

Emergency Kit Checklist
Safety experts advise all personnel to maintain a basic level of preparedness for all potential hazards, and the No. 1 way to be ready is to have a well-stocked emergency supply kit on hand, 24/7/365.
Assemble one or more emergency kits that include enough supplies that will last for at least three days. Think of items that have multiple uses and are long lasting, such as brightly colored plastic ponchos, which can be used as shelter, clothing or as a location marker.
Keep a kit prepared at home, and consider also having kits stashed in the car, at work and having a portable version ready, in the case you need to evacuate your home.
Store kits in an easily accessible area, such as a cupboard by the door, and make sure everyone in the family knows where the kit is located.
Items necessary for all basic home kits include the following:
•Water, at least 1 gallon, per person, per day (to last for at least three days);
•Food, nonperishable food, to last at least three days (select items that require no preparation, refrigeration or cooking);
•Manual can opener, preferably on a multi-tool;
•Reusable plates, cups, utensils and saucepan;
•First aid kit;
•Prescription medications and medical equipment/care aids;
•N95- of N100-rated dust masks;
•Personal sanitation supplies, such as moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties;
•Hand-crank or battery-operated flashlight, radio and cell phone charger, plus extra batteries;
•All-hazards NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio;
•Cash, in the local currency;
•Local maps and your family emergency plan;
•Your command reporting information; know the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System
•Important documents, including wills, medical and financial power of attorney, property documents and medical instructions; and
•Emergency preparedness handbook.
Additional considerations to have in your personal emergency kit could include the following:
•Infant formula and diapers;
•Pet supplies, including food, water, medication, leash/travel case and documents;
•Matches or flint, in a waterproof container;
•Sleeping bag or other weather-appropriate bedding, for each person;
•Fire extinguisher;
•Paper and pencil; and
•Books, games, puzzles, toys and other activities for children.
Evaluate your kits and their relevance routinely. Throw away and replace any expired or damaged medications, food or water.

Online Resources
To learn what to do before, during and after an emergency, visit the following websites: and click on “Staying Safe” and “Emergency Management.”
If directed to move to a safe haven, visit these sites: or
If you live off post, find evacuation and shelter information in your local telephone book or go online to the Hawaii State Civil Defense website at
To request a free disaster preparedness handbook, created by the Hawaiian Electric Company, call 543-7511 or visit

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Category: News, Safety

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