Governor Brian Kemp, in coordination with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and the National Weather Service (NWS), issued a proclamation calling on Georgians to educate themselves and understand the threats of severe weather during Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which will take place from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7.
Spring is traditionally a period where the threat of high winds, hail and lightning from tornados and severe thunderstorms greatly increases. Severe Weather Preparedness Week serves as a reminder to review emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards.
- Monday, Feb. 3 – Family Preparedness/NOAA Weather Radio Day: Purchase a life-saving NOAA Weather Radio and choose an out-of-state friend as a “check-in” contact to call if your family gets separated.
- Tuesday, Feb. 4 – Thunderstorm Safety: Learn the difference between a thunderstorm watch and a thunderstorm warning.
- Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Tornado Safety (and PrepareAthon! drill for tornado safety at 9 a.m.): Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is holding a statewide PrepareAthon! tornado drill Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 9 a.m. This event coincides with Severe Weather Preparedness Week to encourage Georgians to prepare now for any type of severe weather.
“Severe weather is always unpredictable and can occur anywhere in Georgia,” said Homer Bryson, Director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Tornadoes have resulted in the loss of life and millions of dollars in damages. It’s imperative for us to be prepared.”
GEMA/HS urges Georgians to participate, as the peak of tornado activity typically occurs in the spring months. To prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes. Ready Georgia shares the following tips:
Before a drill
- Make a “Ready Kit” for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
- Familiarize yourself with the terminology used to identify a tornado hazard.
- A tornado watch means weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop.
- A tornado warning means either a tornado is occurring, or expected to develop shortly in your area and you need to take shelter immediately.
- Determine in advance where you will take shelter during the tornado drill.
- Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
- If underground shelter is not available, an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible is the best option.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
During a drill
- Announce the start of the tornado drill and inform participants that they should act as though a tornado warning has been issued.
- Evacuate participants just as you would if you were taking shelter during a tornado warning. Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
- Once participants reach the designated safe area, they should crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and covering their heads with their hands.
- Once everyone has been evacuated and taken cover, announce that the drill is over.
After a drill
- Review the drill to identify any necessary changes or improvements to your tornado safety procedures. For example:
- Do more safe areas need to be identified?
- Do the designated safe areas need to have clutter removed or need to be cleaned out to be more accessible?
- Does everyone know the fastest routes to take shelter in the safe areas?
- Is there a better method for letting everyone know of an approaching tornado needed?
- Thursday, Feb. 6 – Lightning Safety: Learn the 30/30 rule. If after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, go indoors. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- Friday, Feb. 7 – Flood Safety: Copy important documents, seal them in a watertight container and add them to your Ready kit.
Severe weather preparedness week isn’t just for individuals and their families. GEMA/HS highly encourages schools, businesses and other organizations to use this as an opportunity to evaluate their preparedness for a severe weather event.
For more resources on how you can prepare your home, school or business for severe weather emergencies and other disasters, visit https://gema.georgia.gov/plan-prepare/ready-georgia and follow @GeorgiaEMA on Twitter for preparedness tips and emergency information.
As part of the Office of the Governor, GEMA/HS works with local, state and federal governments, in partnership with the private sector and faith-based community, to protect life and property against man-made and natural emergencies. In addition, GEMA/HS employees are on 24-hour call statewide to assist local authorities when disaster strikes. GEMA/HS’s “Ready Georgia” campaign helps Georgians prepare for disasters.