ARLINGTON, Va. - Being prepared when disaster strikes could be the difference between life and death. Not just a fighting force, the U.S. military applies warfighting skills and assets to help protect the homeland. Service members train and prepare year-round so when hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and even volcanoes erupt; troops are ready to help those in harm's way.

Hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property of all-natural disasters -- bringing powerful winds, dangerous storm surges, inland flooding, and tornadoes, according to the National Hurricane Center.

When a hurricane is on the way, members of the Air Force Reserve's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the "Hurricane Hunters," often fly into the storm to gather and send back data to forecasters on the ground.

On the ground, Army officials say more than 300,000 National Guard troops are trained and ready to assist with hurricane response including evacuations, communications, delivering supplies and maintaining order. Along with its military workforce, the Guard also deploys helicopters, boats and high-water vehicles.

Seven Tips to Be Ready if a Storm is Coming

1-Monitor local radio and TV for updates. The path of the storm could change quickly and unexpectedly.
2-Hunker down and take shelter.
3-Communicate with friends and family.
4-Keep away from windows. Close storm shutters; flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
5-Prepare for power outages. Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting, and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer.
6-Storm surges pose a significant threat to safety and can cut off potential evacuation routes. If you're told to evacuate, don't wait.
7-Avoid driving through flooded areas. Almost half of flash flooding deaths occur in vehicles.

"The National Guard is the nation's first military responder. We are the first to respond and the last to leave."- Army Master Sgt. Michael Houk, National Guard Bureau.