FORT KNOX, Ky. — The Coronavirus 2019 pandemic led to a national disaster declaration in March. It has also led to a heightened understanding of the importance of preparedness, say officials at Fort Knox.“A disaster is only a disaster to you and me if it affects us. Until you’re affected, it’s not really a disaster,” said Dave Fusselman, Emergency Management specialist, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Knox. “The pandemic has heightened that because it affects the entire country, or in this case, the whole world.”Throughout the month of September, Fusselman and others are taking advantage of that heightened awareness to remind people that “disasters don’t wait, make your plan today.”Emphasizing the 2020 National Preparedness Month slogan, Fusselman said 2020 has been one for the record books in terms of disasters — from hurricane names nearing the end of the alphabet along the East Coast to raging forest fires along the West Coast and flooding throughout the nation, Americans have received real-world tests in preparing for catastrophes.“Thinking back to the toilet paper fiasco, this pandemic has probably highlighted the importance of being prepared should something happen,” said Fusselman.Ready.gov, the flagship website for National Preparedness Month, offers people a cornucopia of information to prepare for upcoming disasters. Along with the information, preparedness experts use each week in September to focus on an issue.The site offers tons of advice on what to do:Week 1: Make a Plan. (https://www.ready.gov/plan)Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the coronavirus.“Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area,” states the website. “Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.Week 2: Build A Kit. (https://www.ready.gov/kit)Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home. Don't forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Update your kits and supplies based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.“After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days,” states the website. “Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.”Week 3: Prepare for Disasters. (https://www.ready.gov/be-informed)Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family. Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert.Week 4: Teach Youth about Preparedness. (https://www.ready.gov/kids)Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved.“Disasters happen everywhere, and every member of the family can prepare,” states the website. “Preparedness for the future starts today.”Fusselman said thoughtful preparedness is key to weathering any storm.“I was around during the fuel shortage crisis,” said Fusselman. “Those are things people don’t typically think about until it actually happens; then it’s, ‘Well, where do I find these items?’ when all the stores are closed.“Who keeps 9 gallons of water around their house on any given day, but it’s something important to have around during a disaster.”_________________________________________________Editor’s Note: For more information on how to prepare for disasters, visit the Ready.gov website at https://www.ready.gov/. FEMA has a disaster tracking app for mobile devices at https://www.fema.gov/about/news-multimedia/app or on Google Play and the Apple App Store.