Gov. Nathan Deal has proclaimed Feb. 4-8 as Severe Weather Awareness Week to encourage Georgians to better prepare for disasters.
Throughout the week, residents are asked to set aside a few minutes each day to get ready for unexpected events, practice emergency response procedures for all types of severe weather, and learn more about threats.
Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security, said preparation is key to minimize injuries and deaths and property damage.
“In recent years, Georgia has experienced record flooding, tornadoes and wildfires,” English said in a Jan. 29 statement. “Urbanization and population growth increase the potential for these storms to impact more people and structures, so I encourage our citizens to become more aware of severe weather safety measures and to participate in the various awareness programs during Severe Weather Awareness Week.”
As part of the observation, GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign is urging people statewide to take some simple steps toward preparedness each day.
-- Feb. 4 is Family Preparedness Day. Identify a family reconnection place and purchase a lifesaving NOAA Weather Radio.
-- Feb. 5 is Thunderstorm Safety. Check your patio or yard to make sure there is nothing that could blow away during a storm. Remove dead or rotting branches from your trees to prevent storm damage.
-- Feb. 6 is Tornado Safety and Statewide Tornado Drill (issued by the National Weather Service). Identify a safe place in your home where you could take shelter during a tornado.
-- Feb. 7 is Lightning Safety. Learn the 30/30 rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
-- Feb. 8 is Flood Safety (alternate drill date). Make copies of important documents, seal them in a watertight container/bag, and add them to your Ready kit.
English said the state is susceptible to almost every type of natural disaster.
“Being prepared is the best defense against the unexpected, so Georgians should use this opportunity to take simple, but potentially lifesaving emergency preparedness steps,” he said. “Tornadoes, storms and floods can devastate communities, but the damage can be minimized if we’re prepared.”
The GEMA chief emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency.
“During severe weather, it could take emergency workers 72 hours or more to reach certain areas in order to open roadways and restore utilities,” English said. “By learning to be self-sufficient for three days or more, Georgians can survive circumstances that might otherwise be tragic.”
Ready Georgia offers tools that residents can use to create an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats.
An interactive Web site – 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 also can download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app.
Georgians have experienced their share of severe weather in recent years, with storms causing substantial damage, injury and even death. Statistics reveal weather-related events have killed at least 352 people in Georgia, including two in 2012, and injured countless others.
For more information, contact the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-724-7899 or visit www.co.dekalb.ga.us or www.ready.ga.gov.