by Kate Grusich
As Tropical Storm Isaac marches toward the Gulf Coast – likely dumping heavy rain and generating possible tornadoes in parts of the Peach State – the Georgia Emergency Management Agency in Ormewood Park is encouraging all residents to start preparing now for the potentially violent storm. The timing is especially important since September is National Preparedness Month.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Ready America campaign, National Preparedness Month was founded after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to increase awareness and encourage action for emergency preparedness nationwide. The slogan of this year’s campaign is: "Pledge to Prepare."
Here are some tips, courtesy of GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign – the state’s resource on disaster preparedness – to help you prepare for any impending severe weather.
- Plan an evacuation route out of your neighborhood and identify a place to take shelter.
- Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies in case you lose electricity or have to evacuate, including a first aid kit and three-day supply of food and water.
- Follow instructions of emergency officials, and know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning: a hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area; a hurricane warning means a hurricane is expected in your area.
- Secure your property and cover all windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect them from high winds.
- If you are not able to evacuate, stay indoors away from all windows. Take shelter in an interior room with no windows if possible. Be aware that there may be a sudden lull in the storm as the eye of the hurricane moves over. Stay in your shelter until local authorities say it is safe.
- 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.
- 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 warning. 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.
- 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.