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Tornado Safety Day: Preparation Key to Surviving Violent, Unpredictable Storms

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign urges Georgians to prepare during Severe Weather Awareness Week; Statewide tornado drill issued Feb. 9

(ATLANTA) - More tornadoes strike Georgia every year than most states in the country, causing millions of dollars in damage and often taking lives. With tornado season on the horizon, Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security urge residents to take steps to prepare for these dangerous storms on Tornado Safety Day, Feb. 9, during Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Most tornadoes hit during the late spring and early summer months, although they can strike any time of the year. On Mother’s Day in 2008, four people were killed when at least 20 tornadoes touched down in Georgia. A rare violent EF-4 tornado struck McIntosh County, destroying its emergency medical services building and damaging three ambulances and one fire truck. It was only the ninth EF-4 to strike Georgia since 1950.

To help Georgians prepare for these dangerous storms, the National Weather Service will issue a statewide tornado drill on Feb. 9, and GEMA asks that households get ready for tornadoes by getting and programming a NOAA Weather Radio.

“The unpredictable and violent nature of tornadoes makes being prepared essential,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “A sudden storm can cause quick devastation, often striking when family members are in different places, so a reconnection plan is key.”

Tornadoes can strike with very little warning, and many of them are wrapped in rain, which can hide their trademark funnel cloud. Due to the unpredictability of these storms, planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival.

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers this information to help you prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes:

Prepare for a Tornado

  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify tornado hazards: a tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; 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 emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, NOAA weather radio, and a three-day supply of food and water.

Plan to Take Shelter

  • If local authorities issue a tornado warning 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 possible.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
  • 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. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.

Stay Informed about Tornadoes

  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • After a tornado, be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of 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.

The state’s emergency preparedness campaign, Ready Georgia, offers families a free, interactive online tool that takes the guesswork out of getting prepared. By visiting www.ready.ga.gov, families can take less than an hour to enter pertinent information and get a customized family communications plan and emergency supply checklist.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Ready Georgia is giving residents the chance to win a NOAA Weather Radio and Ready kit, a $100 value, courtesy of The Home Depot. From Feb. 7-11, visit Ready Georgia’s Facebook page and click on the “Contests” tab. Then, enter the contest by simply submitting a severe weather photo and a step you have taken to prepare.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.

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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 (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 Web site, online community toolkit, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.


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Watch Ready Videos

Action! Learn how to prepare for the unexpected. Our videos show you what it takes.

Customize Your Kit

Create your Customized Ready Plan today. You can also use our checklist.

Act Locally

What's going on in your community? Find out who to call. Host your own Ready event.

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