KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) recognizes September as National Preparedness Month, using this time to encourage all Tennesseans to get prepared for disasters or emergencies.

“National Preparedness Month is a time to renew our commitment to emergency preparedness in homes, businesses, and communities across the Volunteer State,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Whether facing flooding, severe storms, or winter weather, it is vital that Tennesseans remain prepared for any disaster.”

National Preparedness Month is observed each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The theme for this year’s campaign is, “A Lasting Legacy: The life you’ve built is worth protecting. Prepare for disasters to create a lasting legacy for you and your family.”

“Across Tennessee, we have seen communities band together to support their neighbors in the aftermath of disasters,” said Patrick Sheehan, Director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. “I encourage all Tennesseans to take time to learn what hazards they are most likely to face, discuss them with their families and share their plan to minimize the impact of emergencies.” Sheehan added that by staying prepared it’s easier to mitigate the lasting and damaging effects of disasters.

He said it’s important to practice those plans, whether it be evacuating or sheltering in place, with all members of the family, no matter what age.

“Anything that drives us out of the home we practice that and we’re probably due to practice that again because my youngest is only four,” he said. “She’s a lot more capable and has her own opinions and so we’re going to have to go through practicing her with her so she knows why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Sheehan also spoke about staying prepared financially, saying he knows Americans statistically do not have an emergency fund saved at this time.

“We just can look at Florida right now that is starting to have their very first evacuation orders,” said Sheehan, pointing to the evacuations as Hurricane Ian gets closer to making landfall. “Having some financial resources set aside for those unexpected events or storms can really got a long way in helping you keep your family safe.”

Throughout September, TEMA will promote emergency preparedness topics including how to build an emergency kit, creating a plan, and staying informed about risks in your area.

More information on emergency plans and preparedness can be found here.