Soldiers, Families should prepare for winter weather, have a plan
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Story by: Calun Reece
1ST INF. DIV. POST
As the winter season approaches, preparing for potentially severe weather is important, said Chris Hallenbeck, Emergency Management Office specialist, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
Military Families and Soldiers who transferred to Fort Riley last year experienced an unusually mild winter, Hallenbeck said, adding that mild winters are not normal in this area.
To help prepare for severe weather, the following are some helpful tips to prepare the home, vehicle and Families for severe winter weather:
PREPARE AND WINTERIZE HOMES
• Use caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows.
• Install insulated storm doors.
• Cover windows with plastic from the inside.
• Cut away tree branches that may fall on a home or electric wires during an ice storm.
• Service heating systems and clean out chimneys.
• Insulate exposed water pipes and consider allowing faucets to drip during times of extreme cold conditions.
• Know where and how to shut the main water valve to the home in case of pipe bursts.
• Post a Family communications plan somewhere easily accessible to all Family members.
• Have a weather radio programmed.
• Have a home emergency kit.
PREPARE AND WINTERIZE VEHICLES
• Check or have a mechanic inspect the following items of the car:
- Anti-freeze levels – ensure levels are sufficient not to freeze.
- Battery – clean connector terminals.
- Exhaust System – check for leaks or crimped pipes.
- Heater and defroster – ensure they're working properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for visibility and serviceability.
- Windshield wipers and washer fluid – repair worn wiper blades and always keep washer fluid tank full.
- Tire tread and type – check for adequate tread. All weather radial tires are usually adequate for most winter driving conditions.
• Always have at least a half a tank of gas.
• Have an emergency car kit.
PREPARE FAMILIES WITH TIPS FROM READY ARMY
• Make a kit – Assemble a collection of First Aid supplies, food, water, medicine, pet supplies and important papers. Consider any unique needs of Family members.
• Make a plan – Plan for various emergencies known in the surrounding region. Also plan for the possibility of Family members not being together during an emergency. Develop a Family communications plan.
• Be informed – Be familiar with hazards in the area. Anticipate the emergencies most likely to affect Family members. Have a weather radio in the house. Be familiar with the installations emergency notification systems, including AtHoc, the Giant Voice System and Ready Army media products.
Fort Riley provides an AtHoc text messaging system to help warn residents about severe weather. The AtHoc system allows participants to receive instant weather alerts via cell phone free of charge.
Additionally, surrounding counties offer a similar system for residents called Immediate Response Information System. The IRIS emergency notification system is free as well. Residents can go to the county websites for more information.
Other ways to stay informed for severe winter weather include local radio stations, weather alert radio, Riley TV, the Fort Riley Advisories web page and local TV stations.
"The more you know about what to do in an emergency, the more confident and secure you will feel in your ability to manage through a disaster," Hallenbeck said.
To learn more about preparing for severe weather, visit the Ready Army program www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/. Fort Riley residents interested in receiving the AtHoc text messaging can call DPTMS Emergency Management at 785-239-6395.
Last Updated: 05/29/2013 9:56 AM