WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. - Preparing families and communities for disasters and emergency planning is critical for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsored National Preparedness Month. Annually in September, the agency campaigns to get emergency action information to the public.

The theme this year is, Prepared Not, Scared.

The severe weather September brings, coupled with the anniversary of one of the most significant terrorist disasters, makes this time of the year ideal in reminding people to prepare for the unexpected.

"At WSMR, we should be preparing for the disasters, natural and man-made, that are local to us," said McDonald Jacob, installation emergency manager at White Sands Missile Range. "For example, wildfires, this is one of the disasters that can be caused based on our location and the environmental factors of the area we live in."

Wildfires are just one of the disasters that can impact the installation. Other natural disasters include high winds, flooding, ice, and snow. An emergency can be personal as well, such as a pipe bursting causing a flood in your house, and making it inhabitable. There are also man-made disasters, including foreign and domestic terrorism.

"Terrorism is always in the back of our minds," said Jacob. "Active shooter incidents are almost a daily occurrence across the country these days, which is why we are having an active shooter scenario in October for our full scale exercise as part of our annual exercise evaluation program."

Despite the type of disaster, all of them have one thing in common; they are unpredictable. This is why people should take the lessons and information learned in September and apply them all yearlong.

WSMR follows four basic Army tenants for emergency preparedness and encourages everyone to make an emergency plan, build an emergency kit, stay informed, and get involved with your community.

"Make sure you have an emergency kit. You should have supplies for at least 72 hours," said Jacob. "It's good to have it last longer because you can be out of your home for a longer period of time."

The basics to include in an emergency kit is food, water, medications, a communication source, and supplies for young children or pets as needed.

The reality is for some disasters; people may not get emergency relief within 72 hours, meaning that kit may have to sustain a family for longer than expected.

For downloadable publications and training on preparedness, please visit the related links.