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Statewide tornado drill and GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign help Georgians prepare


Special to the Journal


(ATLANTA) Governor Nathan Deal, in cooperation with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and Georgia’s local emergency management agencies will proclaim the week of Feb. 6-10, 2012, as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia. Georgians should take time throughout the week to prepare for unexpected events, practice emergency response procedures for all types of severe weather, and learn more about those threats.

Last year started off with a snow and ice storm that paralyzed the northern third of the state for several days. In April, Georgia was pummeled by 15 tornadoes that killed 15 people and injured 143 across the state. The most powerful twister to hit Georgia was an EF-4 storm that struck Catoosa County, killing eight and injuring at least 30.

“Although government is here to help, response to fallen trees, downed communication systems or flooded roads may prevent emergency crews from reaching you quickly,” says Governor Deal. “However, by taking a few simple steps, you could become your own first responder.”

The week’s activities will kick-off with Family Preparedness Day on Feb. 6, when every household is encouraged to get a NOAA Weather Radio and program it for their county. On Wednesday, when tornado safety is emphasized, a statewide tornado drill will be issued by NWS. The week’s specific observations are:

Monday, Feb. 6 – Family Preparedness and NOAA Weather Radio

Tuesday, Feb. 7 Thunderstorm Safety

Wednesday, Feb. 8 Tornado Safety and Statewide Tornado Drill (issued by NWS)

Thursday, Feb. 9 Lightning Safety

Friday, Feb. 10 Flood Safety (alternate drill date)

To help Georgians prepare for severe weather, GEMA’s Ready Georgia – a statewide emergency preparedness campaign – offers tools that residents can use to create an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Ready Georgia’s interactive website, www.ready.ga.gov, provides detailed information on Georgia-specific emergency preparedness and allows users to create a personal profile and receive a customized checklist and family communications plan. Employers can use the Ready Your Business guide to create custom contingency plans, and children can visit the ReadyKids page for age-appropriate information, videos and games. For preparedness on the go, families can also download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app to learn how to prepare for emergencies, create family communications plans and more.

“The benefit of being self-sufficient for three days or longer is that you can survive circumstances that might otherwise end tragically,” says GEMA/Homeland Security Director Charley English. “Our research shows that Georgians who take the time to educate themselves on possible threats are twice as likely to be prepared.”

GEMA offers this information from its Ready Georgia campaign:

Prepare for Severe Weather:

Make your own Ready kit of emergency supplies. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life.

-        Water: at least three gallons per person per day 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 half a tank of gas in your car.

-        Know your insurance policies and visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn 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. For more information, visit these websites: www.ready.ga.gov, www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc, www.gema.ga.gov.

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