REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Robberies. Active shooter situations. Credit card thefts. Car accidents.

Each is a disaster that can cause physical, emotional and financial ruin for its victims. But the long-lasting effects of such disasters can be minimized when potential victims prepare themselves in advance of possible emergencies.

September is National Preparedness Month. It's a call to action for families and communities to prepare now for emergencies that can affect them where they live, work, play and visit.

"It started as a grass roots campaign following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to encourage Americans to be prepared for the next disaster, to be self-reliant in times of emergencies," said Alfreda Alexander, Emergency Management coordinator for the Aviation and Missile Command, G-3, Operations.

National Preparedness Month is a national program observed annually by presidential proclamation, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and supported by the Department of the Army. The Army Materiel Command directed AMCOM's participation in the campaign.

The theme for this year's National Preparedness Month is "Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today."

"Our goal is to educate and empower people to be prepared for the next disaster, whether that be a terrorist attack, severe weather, a biological disaster or any kind of hazard," Alexander said. "We will deliver preparedness information to our employees via emails and social media encouraging them to practice preparedness wherever they are."

Practicing preparedness means different things depending on the environment.

At home, where people have the most control, there are several things they can do to be prepared, such as having flashlights in the home, putting together an emergency packet of supplies and storing it in a safe, dry place; and developing a family emergency plan.

At work, employees should be familiar with exits and emergency locations at the work site, practice accountability reporting and keep emergency gear such as a flashlight and a first aid kit.

Out in the community, people can practice preparedness by being aware of their surroundings at all times, connecting with neighbors and others in the community who may need aid or who may be able to provide aid, and staying informed about local weather developments and emergency situations.

"You should consider the range of possibilities for hazards that are specific to your unique situation," Alexander said.

Emergency plans for home, work, and while visiting and traveling should consider all types of situations, including tornadoes, house fires, accidents and health emergencies.

"Make sure to practice your plan. Go through drills at home and at work. Know what everyone's roles are and how to get in touch with each other. Be familiar with safe areas and places where you can come back together in case you do get separated," Alexander said.

Although there is no way to know when disaster will strike, people can be prepared to manage disaster.

"The best thing we can do in the face of potential disasters is to be prepared," Alexander said. "Preparation lessens the anxiety if something does happen and it can sustain you through the disaster. None of us can have control of what disaster may strike. None of us can forecast what will happen. But we can prepare ourselves and our families for when disaster comes our way."