The Federal Emergency Management Agency's theme for this year's National Preparedness Month is "Prepared, Not Scared," and it urges Americans to abate fears of unknown disasters by preparing for them.

Officials from Fort Knox's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security said preparing for an emergency is far better than waiting for help to come afterward.

"There are a range of natural and manmade hazards that could affect us leaving us with little or no time to react," said David Fusselman, an emergency management specialist with the Fort Knox Installation Operations Center. "When emergencies occur, there are organizations that respond, but it takes time to mobilize. [Even then,] they focus on the most critical needs first."

Fusselman said a little preparation goes a long way and can bring peace of mind in the midst of a chaotic situation.

"Emergency preparedness is everyone's responsibility, and [people] should get ready to take appropriate action during an emergency," Fusselman said. "Making a family plan [should consider] the types of disasters could affect your area.

Every season can bring different potential hazards. Fusselman said the plan and the kit should be readdressed often.

"Throughout the year, we encourage disaster and emergency planning. September is recognized as National Preparedness Month, but every season can bring different hazards," he said. "The beginning of each season is a good time to review your plan, rearrange your kit and relook [what] you're most likely to see during the season."

The following FEMA website provides a new preparedness theme each week of September: https://ready.gov/september

The themes include: Save Early for Disaster Costs; Make a Plan to Prepare for Disasters; Teach Youth to Prepare for Disasters; and Get Involved in Your Communities Preparedness.

The same government website reports the Federal Reserve's finding that 40% of Americans don't have $400 in savings in case of an emergency.

"Without assistance, most folks will struggle with the finances of a disaster," said Fusselman.

In a recent email from the Fort Knox Installation Operations Center, Rich Spoonamore, operations specialist, reminds people that monetary savings isn't the only financial concern to consider in a disaster; he encouraged residents to collect needed documents that will speed recovery following a disaster.

"Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or emergency," said Spoonamore. "Having access to personal financial, insurance, medical and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Collecting and securing these critical records will [help] ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process with little delay."

Fusselman said an emergency can happen at any time, so it's never too early to start your plan.

"Making a plan is the most routine thing we do. Most people make a basic plan every day before they leave home," Fusselman said. "One of the primary ways I'd suggest people use to get prepared for disasters is to use Ready.gov (https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit) for ideas.

"Being prepared for a disaster eases concerns when they actually occur."