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VICENZA, Italy -- This year is the 17th year for National Preparedness Month, a month-long campaign that takes place every September to promote emergency awareness and preparedness. It is designed to strengthen a citizen’s ability to prepare for, mitigate, prevent, respond to and recover from any natural or man-made disaster.

One can never fully predict when a disaster will strike, but we can individually and collectively ensure we are prepared to respond accordingly. This year’s NPM focuses on planning, with the theme: “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

It is a good time to review the Army’s four preparedness tenets: be informed, make a plan, build a kit, and get involved. Being prepared means having a plan. Whether you are at home, at work or on-the-go, it's important to create a plan in case of an emergency.

Planning ahead will ensure that you and your family will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.

For your home, think ahead and have a family emergency plan. A simple plan can be found at https://www.ready.gov/september.

If you’re at work or school, ensure you and your family members know the best way to contact one another if you are separated during a disaster.

The Veneto region, and especially Vicenza, is no stranger to severe weather. Floods, earthquakes, damaging hail and high windstorms can happen with little to no warning.

When an emergency strikes, knowing what to do before, during and after may make all the difference when seconds count.

Are you looking to create a basic disaster kit? Look no further than your Post Exchange and Commissary. Items for a basic emergency supply kit can easily be found at these two locations.

Individually we can make a difference by getting involved in our community.

Join the America’s Preparation! Campaign. All families and individuals are encouraged to join and can do so by visiting the Ready Army website at www.ready.army.mil and pledging to prepare.

The U.S. Army Garrison Italy Emergency Management office will have displays at the Exchanges and commissaries to provide community members with easy tips on how to prepare for disasters. Are you ready to make a difference for yourself, your family and your community? Make the pledge and be Army ready!