From a crippling freeze and ice storms to earthquakes and a tornado, Georgians have already experienced their share of severe weather in 2014 – and its only March. With the peak of tornado activity typically occurring in the spring months, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security’s Ready Georgia campaign encourages everyone to prepare now for whatever may come next.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), tornadoes are the No. 1 severe weather-related killer in Georgia. They have proven to be some of nature's most violent storms, appearing sometimes with little warning and remaining invisible until dust and debris pick up or a funnel cloud appears. They can also generate wind speeds that can exceed 250 mph, so planning and practicing how and where to take shelter could be a matter of survival.
“While tornadoes have occurred in every month of the year here in Georgia, March, April and May are often the most active months,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Regardless of when they strike, tornadoes are dangerously unpredictable, so it’s critical to know in advance what to do and where to take shelter immediately. The Ready Georgia campaign provides access to the essential tools and resources families need to be ready for potential emergencies, like tornadoes.”
Visitors to the Ready Georgia website can find information needed to create a disaster supply kit, develop a tailored communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. In addition, families can access children’s games and activities, while households with pets or elderly or disabled family members will find specific information on preparing for severe weather. For preparedness on the go, download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app, which turns your 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.
To prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes, Ready Georgia shares the following tips:
- Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado, preferably in a basement or a storm cellar. Keep blankets or a mattress here to protect against falling debris.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms used to identify tornado hazards – a tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area, so you need to find shelter immediately.
Plan to Take Shelter
- If local authorities issue a tornado warning – or if you see a funnel cloud or tornado – take shelter immediately.
- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection. If possible, climb under something sturdy, like a heavy table or work bench, and cover yourself with blankets or a mattress.
- If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your head with your hands. A bathtub may offer some protection, but cover up with thick padding – like a mattress or blankets – to protect against falling debris, if time allows. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Go to the center of the room and avoid windows, doors and outside walls.
- Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter. Stay off the elevators, as you could be trapped if power is lost.
- A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Get out immediately and head for safety, preferably in a basement or sturdy building. If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area and use your arms to protect your head. Do not get under an overpass or bridge – you are safer in a low, flat location.
- Stay in the shelter location until danger has passed.
- Contact your local emergency management agency to learn what warning system is used in your county.
- Listen to commercial radio, check the Internet or watch television for the latest weather forecasts and news. GEMA also recommends having a NOAA Weather Radio. This is the best way to receive NWS alerts, even if they are issued in the middle of the night.
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are being sent directly to newer cell phones by authorized government alerting authorities. There is no need to download an app or subscribe to a service.
- If you own a smartphone, download a weather service app to receive notifications of storms and hazardous conditions in the area. The Ready Georgia mobile app is free and offers up-to-the-minute, geo-located weather and hazard alerts, as well as customizable emergency preparedness checklists.
- After a tornado, be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
For more information on how to prepare for severe weather visit, www.ready.ga.gov, www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc or download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app. To learn about specific risks in your area, contact your local emergency management agency.
About Ready Georgia
Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign. Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive website, free mobile app, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.