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Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

Image of Start by creating a basic disaster emergency kit and create a plan to get back together as a family in the event of a disaster. . Airmen at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi assisted the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron with filling more than 2500 sand bags. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Wildfires have burned more than 3 million acres of land in the U.S. already this year — an area bigger than Connecticut.

An array of disasters – like massive wildfires, hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, and mud slides – now seem to be everyday risks.

So, how to prepare for an evacuation affecting your family and pets? Or even losing your home?

Start by creating a basic disaster emergency kit and create a plan to get back together as a family in the event of a disaster. Watching this disaster preparedness video can help you create your kit.

“The most important things you should have is the basic life-saving equipment”, said Christopher Springer, head of emergency management at, Naval Medical Center San Diego.

That means flashlights, radios, and batteries to support that equipment. “Then look at your actual household to think about your family members who have special needs or special medications, then build each emergency preparedness kit for your home and your family,” Springer said.

TRICARE also has information on what to do before, during, and after a disaster, and your benefits during a disaster.

Your Pets

For your pets, the Army Public Health Center recommends gathering an emergency kit with a two-week supply of pet food, water, and any medications. Make sure you have copies of pets’ vaccination and medical records as well.

Some emergency shelters require crates for pets, and some only accept service animals. It's a good idea to identify pet-friendly housing options outside of the evacuation area.

Make sure your pet's ID tags include your current contact information. You also may want to ask your veterinarian about getting your pet microchipped in case you’re separated during an emergency.

Hurricanes and Lessons Learned

In the eastern U.S., people are more likely to see hurricanes, flooding, and tornados. This year, the government predicts an above average hurricane season with up to 21 storms, and the year has already seen many deadly tornadoes.

For the staff of Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in 2018, the impact of hurricanes became all too real, when Hurricane Michael devastated the base in October 2018. Many base personnel and families lived in the surrounding community, which had to rebuild following the hurricane.

“One of the biggest lessons we learned after the Tyndall was destroyed by was to understand what your insurance plan says,” said Robert Genova, the Emergency Management Operations support manager at Tyndall.

“Once the storm has passed, what are you authorized to do, such as having a contractor put tarp on your roof, and will your insurance pay for that?” he advised. “You need to understand what kind of limitations you have on your insurance.”

Preparedness Toolkits

Every military service has a guide and thorough preparedness toolkit localized to the installation and outside-of-base housing. New service members or PCS’ed families get initial information on the local hazards during their orientation briefings.

For example, the Air Force’s Be Ready guide is an authoritative and highly thorough reference source for all types of natural, man-made, technological and terrorism-related disasters.

The guide helps military families prepare for those events and runs the gamut from basic preparation to exactly how to deal with most any type of disaster.

The toolkits and catalogs go from awareness posters, information tear sheets, table tents, to hazard vignette short videos. There are also kids’ awareness campaign materials that include activity books and tear sheets focused on the threats or hazards for each installation.

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Prepare Early: Getting Emergency Prescription Refills

 This graphic highlights how to obtain emergency prescription refills in the event of a natural disaster.

TRICARE will authorize emergency prescription refills.

Prepare Early Don't Forget Your Pets

 Image of dog and cat with text "Don't forget your dogs and cats"

Be Ready. Prepare Early. Don't forget your pets.

Prepare Early: Disaster Referral Waiver

 Image describing what a Primary Care Manager Referral waiver is, and when you can obtain a blanket referral waiver during a disaster

What is a PCM Referral Waiver? If you have TRICARE Prime, your Primary Care Manager (PCM) provides most of your care. If you see a TRICARE-authorized specialty provider without a referral, you have to pay Point-of-Service (POS) charges.

Prepare Early: Nurse Line (Condensed)

 The MHS Nurse Advice line is available 24/7 by phone, web chat and video chat to all TRICARE beneficiaries in the U.S. and U.S. Territories, and countries with established military hospitals and clinics. This condensed NAL infographic incudes the website

The MHS Nurse Advice line is available 24/7 by phone, web chat and video chat to all TRICARE beneficiaries in the U.S. and U.S. Territories, and countries with established military hospitals and clinics. This condensed NAL infographic incudes the website

Prepare Early: Protect Paperwork and Important Documents

  Image of passport, will, with text "Protect Paperwork and Important Documents"

Be Ready. Prepare Early, protect paperwork and important documents.

Prepare Early: Essential Resources

 This graphic highlights emergency resources people can use before emergencies to be disaster ready.

Plan. Prepare. Protect. Natural Disaster Resource Guide.

Prepare Early: Readiness Kit

 This graphic lists and depicts items that should be in your Disaster-Readiness Kit

Plan. Prepare. Protect. Natural Resource Guide, Readiness Kit.

Prepare Early: Email Sign-Up

 This graphic urges people to sign up for email alerts from TRICARE in the event of a disaster

Be Ready. Prepare Early. Sign-up for email alerts from TRICARE.

Prepare Early: Consider Special Needs

Famiiy with son in wheelchair with text "Consider Special Needs"

Be Ready. Prepare Early. Consider Special Needs.

Out for a Bike Ride? Remember These Safety Tips

A safety officer overlooks bike riders on a street

Bike riding is a popular form of transportation, physical activity, and fun, but doing it safely is key.

Air Quality Awareness in a Haze

Article Around MHS
Hazy sunset view at Puget Sound

Due to raging wildfires scorching thousands of acres from British Columbia to northern California, there’s been a murky layer which has settled over the entire area, which has even closed highways and mountain passes in Washington State.

Taking the stings out of summer fun

Beekeeper in protective gear holds framework with bees and honey..

What you should know and do about bee, wasp, and hornet stings

Avoid summertime food poisoning with these easy tips

Someone cooking on a grill

Food safety in the summer is just as important as sunscreen

Summer Water Safety Means: Know your Limitations

Military personnel participating in a swim call

Know your swimming rules and dangers

Soldiers Not Immune to Damage of Sun's Rays

Article Around MHS
Soldiers not immune to damage of sun’s rays

Some soldiers have a greater risk for developing skin cancer than others. For July’s UV Safety Awareness month, soldiers should be aware of their risks and how to reduce their chances of skin cancer.

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Last Updated: July 07, 2022
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