The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is encouraging everyone to get ready now for these potentially disastrous storms.
Charley English, GEMA/Homeland Security director, said the storms are dangerously unpredictable.
“It’s critical to know in advance what to do and where to take shelter,” English said. “These storms may come with little warning, so the best way to keep yourself and your family safe is to prepare now instead of waiting until disaster strikes.”
In January, tornadoes struck Adairsville and Gordon County, flattening homes and businesses, flipping vehicles, and causing one fatality. Despite the damage, weather experts say it could have been worse. Tornado warnings helped many residents seek shelter in time, likely preventing more casualties.
GEMA points to the massive twister that struck Joplin, Mo., in May 2011, destroying one-third of the city and leaving more than 160 deaths in its wake. Many fatalities were among people who remained inside mobile homes and others who were caught driving when the storm swept through.
The National Weather Service says tornadoes are some of nature’s most violent storms. In Georgia, they are the No. 1 severe weather killer, appearing with little warning and generating wind speeds that can exceed 250 mph.
Ready Georgia says research shows that a majority of Georgians are still unprepared to survive for the recommended 72 hours after a large-scale emergency.
In a 2012 survey, GEMA found that only 38 percent believe they need to be prepared to survive for the recommended 72 hours after a large-scale emergency and a majority had not purchased weather radios or created a family reconnection plan.
GEMA says that type of complacency can be deadly.
A new 15-second public service announcement airing on TV stations statewide features the “day before” the Joplin tornado and illustrates the importance of preparing on an ordinary day like today to help reduce the consequences of a disaster tomorrow.
English says that people might not feel inclined to prepare because they have never been through a disaster or don’t believe it will happen in their community.
“But as history has shown, disasters can happen anywhere and at any time,” he said.
Ready Georgia offers families tools and resources to prepare for emergencies.
Visitors to www.ready.ga.gov can find information to create a disaster supply kit, develop a tailored communications plan, and stay informed about potential threats.
For preparedness on the go, families can download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app.
More than 30,000 Georgians have already downloaded the app, which turns an iPhone or Android smartphone into an invaluable preparedness tool by providing mobile access to emergency contact information, a list of Ready kit supplies, and even local shelter locations in the wake of a disaster.
Ready Georgia shares the following tips:
Prepare for a tornado
-- Familiarize yourself with the terms: A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area, and a tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area and you need to take shelter immediately.
-- Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
-- Prepare a Ready Kit of supplies, including a first-aid kit, NOAA Weather Radio and a three-day supply of food and water.
Plan to take shelter
-- If a tornado warning is issued or if you see a funnel cloud, take shelter immediately.
-- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
-- If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
-- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
-- Stay away from windows, doors, outside walls and corners. Go to the center of the room.
-- A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
-- If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
-- Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
-- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, or check the Internet often for official news and instructions.
-- After a tornado, stay clear of damaged buildings and downed power lines.
-- Help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
For more information, contact the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency at 770-270-0413 or DEMA@co.dekalb.ga.us, or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.