KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Hurricane season officially starts today. Are you ready?
As children are being released from school and parents are getting busy with summer plans, don’t forget about being prepared for the hurricane storm season.
The 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron wants to remind people that planning and preparing in advance of a hurricane can make a difference in how you cope during and after the storm.
“Just as we keep the WC-130J Super Hercules prepared and maintained for storm missions,” said Senior Master Sgt. Myra Trippe, 403rd AMXS assistant superintendent. “We also have tool kits and equipment already prepared and stocked, ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
Trippe recommends that people in storm areas should be prepared in the event a storm comes by having kits ready and following local guidelines and preparedness tips.
Some preparedness tips include:
Know your hurricane evacuation area. Should you be required to evacuate, make an emergency plan that everyone in your family knows and understands. If someone in your household has a disability, be aware of any additional help that you may need.
Stock emergency supplies. These supplies should include enough for your entire household for at least three days, from medications, disinfectants, face coverings, pet supplies and keep them in a go bag or trunk.
Recognize warning and alerts. Receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service and from your local community.
Review and gather important documents. Make sure you have copies of your insurance policies, personal documents, such as identification cards, social security card, medical and any other important paperwork. Keep a copy on a password protected digital space also, in the event you cannot access your paper copies.
Prepare your home. This can include boarding windows, readying hurricane shutters, cleaning drains, gutters and yard. Store any outside furniture to prevent items from becoming airborne debris. Make sure you charge electronics in case of power outages and have a backup power ready.
“Making sure my family prepared is important because sometimes we get less than 12 hour notice that we are moving the aircraft for a storm mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Stafford, 403rd AMXS flight chief. ”Having them prepared makes it easier when we have to leave on our missions.”
While everyone at home is preparing for a storm, the maintainers of 403rd AMXS are hard at work keeping the aircraft ready to go, so that when the call comes in to fly into the eye of the storm, the mission gets done.
Having the aircraft ready to go is important is an integral part of the data collecting mission. The data collected is then compiled and transmitted to the NHC to assist with the storm warnings and forecast models.
“We ask that people pay attention to these forecasts and heed the evacuation orders of the local government officials,” said Trippe.
Once the storm reaches land, the maintainers ensure the aircraft are ready to go, in the event the storm goes back out to sea or another storm forms and they have to start again.
It is when the storm makes landfall that people need to be extra careful, so here are some tips of surviving during and after the storm.
Know whether you have to evacuate or can stay home.
If evacuated. Know the local evacuation routes, emergency shelter locations and don’t forget to let someone know your plans. Don’t return to the area until the local authorities deem it is safe to return.
If you stay. Remember to stay in an area above the local floodplain, stay indoors away from glass doors and windows. Stay in a windowless room on the lowest level that is not likely to flood. Also never use a generator or gas powered equipment, to include tools, grill, camp stove or charcoal burning devices inside your house, they should only be used outside.
Post-disaster clean up. Keep yourself safe by not wading in floodwaters, which can contain debris like broken glass, metal, sewage, gasoline, oil, downed power lines and dead animals. Avoid entering any building without an inspection and do not use electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are in water.
Always wear the appropriate protection equipment, to include gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and facemasks. If your house has any water damage from a storm remember to air out the house by opening all doors and windows, move porous materials such as mattresses, couches, chairs out of the house, tear out any flooring, drywall, insulation, and electrical outlets. Also clean out any remaining debris and mud.
Stay healthy. Remember to throw out any food, including canned items that were not maintained at the proper temperature or have been exposed to floodwaters. When in doubt, throw it out. Avoid drinking tap water until you know it is safe, and clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
Ms. Amy Lee, 403rd Mission Support Group emergency manager, said, “You can find information on preparedness and tips at https://www.fema.gov/ and https://www.ready.gov/.”