SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- For Americans, emergency preparedness must now account for man-made disasters, as well as natural ones.

Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared, and it may make all the difference when seconds count.

Individuals can take simple preparedness steps before an emergency happens, to minimize its impact on themselves and their families.

"This year, natural disasters have tested our response ability across all levels of government," said President Barack Obama, in a recent press release. "This September also marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, which united our country both in our shared grief and in our determination to prevent future generations from experiencing similar devastation.

"Our nation has weathered many hardships, but we have always pulled together as one nation to help our neighbors prepare for, respond to and recover from these extraordinary challenges," he said.

Family and community preparedness planning can enhance community readiness, reduce the impact of disaster and expedite recovery in the aftermath of unpreventable catastrophes.

"Preparedness is a shared responsibility," Obama said. "This requires collaboration at all levels of government, … (and) individuals also play a vital role in securing our country."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's "Ready" campaign focuses on the following important preparedness steps that can assist families with creating emergency plans and preparing for a wide range of natural and man-made disasters:

•Get an emergency supply kit. When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival, including fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Ready.gov provides a list of recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit.

•Make a family emergency plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance for how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in different situations.

•Be informed. There are important differences among potential emergencies that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Learn about potential emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them. Learn about state and local government emergency plans.

•Get involved. Organizations, families and individuals should take time to explore the many ways they can all contribute to creating more prepared and resilient communities.

•Ready Kids. Teach children how to be informed, prepared, plan for and react in emergency situations with tips and tools provided on the Ready website.

"Although we cannot always know when and where a disaster will hit, we can ensure we are ready to respond," Obama said. "Together, we can equip our families and communities to be resilient through times of hardship and to respond to adversity in the same way America always has -- by picking ourselves up and continuing the task of keeping our country strong and safe."

(Information was added from the presidential proclamation about National Preparedness Month.)

--Community preparedness

September marks the eighth annual National Preparedness Month that encourages Soldiers, families and civilians to prepare for emergencies at home, at work and in their communities. Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it takes a whole community.

In January, the secretary of the army established the Army Protection Program that functions as the overarching leadership framework to synchronize, prioritize and coordinate protection policies and resources; expand program oversight; ensure senior leader accountability; and improve risk-based decision-making.

The Army is also working to improve the ability of Army commands to prepare for and respond to an emergency. Within the Emergency Management Modernization Program, commands can effectively exchange emergency information, give mass warning notification and decrease overall emergency response times.

Protecting the lives of Soldiers, families and civilians is of primary importance to the Army, and emergency preparedness is an essential component of protection.

Page last updated Mon September 12th, 2011 at 00:00