FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Be informed. Make a plan. Build a kit. Get involved. These are the four pillars of the Ready Army Program that are in the spotlight this September for National Preparedness Month.

Following those four pillars will help keep Soldiers, civilians, and their families prepared for natural disasters, according to Tina Sandell, operations specialist for emergency management for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

"Of particular interest for Fort Benning, tornados appear from time to time with very little warning. It is very important to be prepared before as well as when they arrive," Sandell said.

"The Fort Benning alert warning system is one way for residents to self-register, to receive alerts and stay informed should severe weather occur."

When making a plan for an emergency, Sandell said, you should establish a safe room in your home and prepare your family members with practice drills. In addition, you should establish a predetermined location as a rally point in case your family members become separated.

Sandell also recommends preparing pre-packed supply kits.

"When you build a kit, you need to make sure that you have [necessities, including] plenty of water, medications, and a first aid kit available in case of injury," Sandell said.

An emergency like a violent storm can be just as frightening and stressful for adults as it is for children, so you should consider including additional kit items that may help distract and calm your family members.

"As part of your kit, include a book or a deck of cards for you to play with while waiting out a storm in your safe room," said Sandell.

The Ready Army Program also promotes the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment System as a way for families and friends to stay informed during or after a natural disaster.

The ADPAAS is an accountability system that contains contact information for family members. The idea is to ensure that, should something happen to them, their personal contact information will be available for reference, from spouse to next of kin.

Though most people will never need to execute their emergency plans, "it is better to have a plan and not need it, then need a plan and not have one," Sandell pointed out.

You can find more information on how to stay informed, make a plan, build a kit, and get involved at http://www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/.