Severe Weather Awareness Week Begins
By Tim Herrington
The Floyd County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) supports the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the National Weather Service in observing February 1-5, as Severe Weather Awareness Week. Encouraging families to learn emergency preparedness and response procedures for all types of severe weather events is the goal of the observance with a daily focus on these topics:
February 1 Monday Family Preparedness/NOAA Weather Radio Day
February 2 Tuesday Thunderstorm Safety
February 3 Wednesday Tornado Safety (Statewide Tornado Drill)
February 4 Thursday Lightning Safety
February 5 Friday Flooding (Alternate Drill Day)
"Family preparedness is the focus on Monday, February 1, 2016" says Floyd County EMA Director Tim Herrington. "Family Preparedness Day is a time for every family to plan and rehearse what they should do during the first 72-hours of any severe weather-related event or disaster," Herrington added.
To help families get started, Ready Georgia - a statewide emergency preparedness campaign established by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) - offers the tools needed to make an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Ready Georgia's 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 a family communications plan.
During winter storms, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes, it may take emergency workers 72-hours or more to reach certain areas in order to open roadways and restore utilities. The benefit of being self-sufficient for 72-hours, or longer, is that your family can survive circumstances that might otherwise be tragic, if you were not prepared. "With a little time and effort, families can prepare for severe weather hazards affecting our area. Developing a family disaster plan is the first step," said Herrington.
Severe weather or a disaster may force an evacuation of your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What will you do if your basic utilities - water, gas, electricity, or telephones -- are cut off? These are the types of questions your family disaster plan must address in order to help protect your family.
Follow these basic steps to develop a family disaster plan.
Gather information about hazards
In addition to your local EMA, you may contact the nearest National Weather Service office, Ready Georgia or the American Red Cross. Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn the community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
Meet with your family to create a plan
Discuss the information you have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot very near your home for an emergency, such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your "family check-in contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate.
Implement your plan
1. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones.
2. Install safety features in your house, such as a NOAA Weather Radio, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
3. Inspect your home for potential hazards: such as items that can move, fall, break or catch fire; and, correct them.
4. Have family members learn basic safety measures: such as CPR and first-aid; how to use a fire extinguisher; and, how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity in your home.
5. Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number.
6. Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your family's needs for at least three days.
7. Assemble an emergency preparedness kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation.
Practice and maintain your plan
Ask questions to make sure your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules. Conduct drills. Test your weather radio and smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Test and recharge your fire extinguishers according to the manufacturer's instructions. Replace stored water and food every six months.
For more information, contact Floyd County EMA at 706.236.5002 or visit these Web sites: www.romefloyd.com, www.gema.ga.gov, www.ready.ga.gov.