Richmond, Va. –
During the summer months, Defense Logistics Agency, Installation Operations Richmond has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promote awareness of heat and drought conditions, as well as flooding, on the installation and surrounding areas through the Ready Campaign.
With the onset of higher daily temperatures, heat-related illnesses are on the tops of minds among Virginians, including personnel working at and living near Defense Supply Center Richmond. During just one week in August 2016, the Virginia Department of Health recorded a total of 154 emergency room and urgent care visits as a result of heat exposure. The most affected were men and individuals 50 to 59 years old.
William Bullock, installation emergency manager with Security and Emergency Services, DLA Installation Operations Richmond, said last year the installation saw three heat-related emergencies. “One was an Army individual, a runner, who overheated during a physical fitness test; one was a warehouse worker; and the third was a firefighter who was performing a structural exercise,” said Bullock.
With the aid of an app developed by FEMA, installation personnel will work to educate employees and service members on ways to prevent heat-related illnesses, as well as prepare and respond to damage from drought and flooding.
The efforts are underscored by the Ready Campaign, a public service campaign that educates the nation’s residents, including natural and manmade disasters.
The mobile FEMA App offers disaster safety tips, interactive lists for building and storing emergency kits, meeting location information and additional disaster-specific information and guidance. The free app is available for download on Apple and Android mobile devices.
In addition to the FEMA resources, Bullock’s office publishes a weekly weather report and condition predictions, which are distributed to DLA Installation Operations Richmond division chiefs and to the Aviation Logistics Operations Center. “Additionally, if needed, we can send out messages through the Mass Notification System,” he said.
When flood conditions seem likely, Bullock said the Installation Management Division will pre-stage sandbags for entryways and low-lying areas that are prone to flooding and pooling of water. “In 2004, a portion of fencing was damaged or lost in the southeast corner of the base as a result of Hurricane Gaston,” Bullock said.
Since then, during heavy storms the installation police patrol the perimeter to gauge road accessibility, and any weakening of the fencing is addressed by the Installation Management Division and Physical Security Offices.
The Red Cross, FEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have provided tips for prepping and responding to extreme heat, drought and flooding. Below are a few key points to remember.
Extreme Heat (Graphic courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Extreme or excessive heat is described as temperatures 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for a region during summer months; heat waves occur during prolonged periods of extreme heat.
1. Stay hydrated. Drink even if you don’t feel thirsty.
2. Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, light-colored clothing.
3. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day.
4. Use a buddy system when working outdoors in extreme heat.
5. Check on neighbors, friends and family who are elderly or extremely young, have compromised immune systems or limited mobility.
6. Provide pets with shelter/shade and plenty of water. Bring them indoors during the hottest part of the day if possible, in a well-ventilated area or room.
7. Check the contents of your emergency kit to ensure you have all the necessary supplies in case of a heat-related power outage.
Drought is a period of excessive dryness lasting long enough or being intense enough to affect agriculture, communities and wildlife habitats. The impacts of drought can be immediately noticeable, such as wildfires and loss of vegetation, or less noticeable, such as an increase in airborne particles that cause breathing problems and partial shutdowns of facilities that rely on water for cooling.
To stay updated, use the Drought Monitor maps to see if your area is affected. Communities can help mitigate the impact of drought in several ways:
1. Limit outdoor water use during the hottest times of the day, or alternate days for outdoor water use.
2. Conserve water use in the home or office. Don’t leave water running while washing hands, brushing teeth or washing dishes.
3. Use heat-tolerant plants in residential and commercial landscaping.
4. Avoid the use of flame or fire near dry vegetation, and avoid the use of spark- or flame-producing machinery when working near dry vegetation.
5. Check pipes for leaks and replace insulation that’s dry or cracked.
Flooding (Graphic courtesy of Virginia Department of Emergency Management)
Flooding doesn’t have to be several feet deep; a flood can be only a few inches of water. Floods are an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Coastal areas of land are more prone to flooding during hurricane season—July to November—while inland areas are at greater risk during spring and heavy summer rains.
You can prepare for the possibility of flooding, and minimize risk, by taking these steps.
1. Know evacuation routes and relocation centers in case you must evacuate ahead of flooding.
2. Prepare an emergency kit.
3. Elevate critical utilities such as electrical panels, appliances and heating systems, and waterproof structures that are built partially or entirely below ground.
4. Anchor outdoor fuel tanks, and move vehicles and outdoor machinery to higher ground.
5. Seal important documents in waterproof containers and move to a higher level in your home or office, or store at a flood-resistant facility.