With the record-breaking frigid temperatures, snowy weather and icy roads that affected Georgia a few days ago, it’s very fitting that Governor Nathan Deal declared this week, Feb. 3 – 7, as Severe Weather Awareness Week. During this week, Georgia residents are encouraged to focus on preparing themselves and their families for unexpected weather and practice emergency response procedures for potential disasters.
- Monday – Family Preparedness Day
- Tuesday – Thunderstorm Safety Day
- Wednesday – Tornado Safety Day
- Thursday – Lightning Safety Day
- Friday – Flood Safety Day
Severe Weather Awareness Week kicked off on Monday with Family Preparedness Day, a day in which Georgia homeowners were encouraged to program their weather radios, develop a communication plan and rehearse what to do during the first 72 hours of any severe weather-related occurrence. Creating a family disaster plan and being able to be self-sufficient during the first 72 hours of a natural disaster significantly increases a family’s chance of survival.
Tuesday was Thunderstorm Safety Day, in which Georgians should’ve familiarized themselves with the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. A watch means conditions are favorable for the storm to develop, and a warning means that a storm is currently happening and residents should seek shelter immediately. To prepare for a thunderstorm, residents should trim and remove dead tree branches from their yards and secure loose outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
On Wednesday, Tornado Safety Day, there was a statewide tornado drill to test people’s ability to react quickly during an actual emergency and to allow them to determine the appropriate actions to take in order to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event of a tornado. This includes choosing a location on the lowest floor of the house, such as a center hallway, bathroom or large closet, where family members can gather before a tornado.
Thursday is Lightning Safety Day, a day that focuses on the extremely dangerous by-product of thunderstorms. Across the country, lightning kills hundreds of people each year. Georgia residents should immediately seek shelter, avoid anything metal and stay away from water in order to protect themselves from lightning.
Severe Weather Awareness Week ends on Friday with Flood Safety Day. Floods and flash floods usually result from intense storms and large amounts of rainfall. Flash floods develop in a short amount of time while floods may take several hours to develop. Residents who live near creeks, streams and rivers need to be especially aware of rising waters and prepared to evacuate quickly.
Severe weather is dangerous and can strike with very little warning, which is why it’s important for Georgia residents to prepare themselves in advance. For more information about severe weather safety, please contact the American Red Cross East Georgia Chapter at 706-353-1645.