Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week a Time to Prepare for Remainder of Year

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign helps residents prepare for a variety of natural disasters

Georgia has already experienced its first taste of severe weather in 2011 – a snowstorm that affected 70 percent of the state. With that in our collective memory, the governor and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security encourage all Georgians to participate in this year’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, Feb. 7-11, by turning to the state’s Ready Georgia campaign.

“Take time now to prepare for the extreme weather the rest of the year can bring,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Tornadoes, storms and floods can devastate our communities, but devastation can be minimized if we’re prepared.”

The week’s activities begin with Family Preparedness Day on Feb. 7, when all Georgia households are encouraged to program their NOAA Weather Radios and create Ready Profiles at to get a customized checklist of emergency supplies and a tailored family communications plan.

On Wednesday, when tornado safety is emphasized, a statewide tornado drill will be issued by the National Weather Service. Severe Weather Awareness Week’s specific observations are:

Monday, Feb. 7 – Family Preparedness/NOAA Weather Radio Day
Tuesday, Feb. 8 – Thunderstorm Safety
Wednesday, Feb. 9 – Tornado Safety and Statewide Tornado Drill (issued by NWS)
Thursday, Feb. 10 – Lightning Safety
Friday, Feb. 11 – Flood Safety (alternate tornado drill date)

"By preparing for one emergency, you are actually arming yourself against many types of disasters," continued English. “Our goal is for all residents to be their own first responders and to be able to help others in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.”

During severe weather, emergency workers might need at least 72 hours to open roadways and restore utilities. When Georgians are prepared to survive independently, the potential for tragic outcomes is greatly reduced. GEMA offers this information from its Ready Georgia campaign:

Prepare for Severe Weather:

Make a Ready kit of emergency supplies for your home, car and office. Most of the recommended items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life.

- Water: at least three gallons per person for drinking and sanitation
- Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
- Battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Face mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Local maps
- Specific items for children, family members’ special needs or pets
- Cash or travelers checks
- Important documents in a waterproof container
- Blankets and warm clothes

Plan for Severe Weather:

- Be sure every family member knows important phone numbers for schools, offices, home and emergency services.
- Identify an out-of town contact. It might be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call in town, so an out-of-town contact is in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Identify a meeting place near your home where family members can meet if separated during severe weather.
- Identify a meeting place away from your home where family members can meet if your neighborhood in not accessible.
- Map out evacuation routes in case you are ordered to evacuate, and always keep at least a fourth of a tank of gas in your car.
- Know your insurance policies and whether your home is in a flood zone.

Stay Informed about Severe Weather:

- Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond.
- Learn your community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify severe weather, such as advisories, watches and warnings.
- Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, television and the Internet to stay informed of severe weather conditions.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Ready Georgia is also giving residents the chance to win their very own Ready kit and NOAA Weather Radio, a $100 value. Starting Feb. 7, visit Ready Georgia’s Facebook page and click on the “Contests” tab. Then, enter the contest by simply submitting a severe weather photo and a step you have taken to prepare.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or visit or

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