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GEMA wants you to prepare before tornadoes strike

are-you-preparedGeorgia tornado activity peaks March through May, making now the time to get ready

(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 on March 1, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security Ready Georgia campaign advises 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 (NWS), 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.

To help people prepare for tornadoes and other emergencies, GEMA’s Ready Georgiacampaign provides online tools to make a disaster supply kit, develop a tailored communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Website visitors can also find local emergency contact information and read preparedness testimonials from local sports stars. Children’s games and activities can be found on the ReadyKids page, and households with pets or elderly or disabled family members will find specific information on preparing for severe weather.

For preparedness on the go, families can download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app to learn how to prepare for emergencies, create family communications plans and more. More than 20,000 Georgians have already downloaded the app, which turns an iPhone or Android smartphone into an invaluable preparedness tool by providing mobile access to emergency contact information, a list of Ready kit supplies and even local shelter locations in the wake of a disaster.

Ready Georgia reminds residents of the following important information to 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.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or or


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/Homeland Security (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 website, free mobile app, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebookand YouTube.

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