Make preparations in advance
• 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.
• Prepare a ready kit of emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, weather radio and 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.
• If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
• Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
--Source: GEMA/Homeland Security Ready Georgia campaign
ATLANTA — Last spring, a series of tornadoes struck Georgia, killing 15 people and injuring 143 across the state.
More recently, a powerful EF-3 tornado touched down in Gordon County on Dec. 22. The storm injured several people, damaged homes and businesses and disrupted travel. Downed trees and power lines caused the closure of I-75 and several other streets and highways.
In November 2010, a tornado devastated a Buford neighborhood, and in 2009, more than 50 tornadoes wreaked havoc statewide, landing Georgia in the top five nationwide for tornado activity.
With another potentially active tornado season beginning March 1, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security Ready Georgia campaign advises that there is no better time for the public to get ready, especially following the recent years of fatal weather activity.
“March is the start of Georgia’s official tornado season, and we want to ensure that all residents are prepared for the violent and unpredictable nature of tornadoes,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Tornadoes are a real threat in Georgia and they can strike with almost no warning, so the best way to keep yourself and your family safe is to prepare now.”
According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes are the No. 1 severe-weather-related killer in Georgia. They have proven to be some of nature’s most violent storms, appearing with little warning and generating wind speeds that can exceed 250 mph. Though tornadoes can occur any day of the year, the height of the season runs from March through May. The best way to mitigate the effects of a tornado is to have a plan in place and practice how and where to take shelter.
For more information on preparing for severe weather, go to www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.