As 2012 comes to a close, many of us have begun making a list of New Year’s resolutions, such as getting healthier, reducing debt or making time for family. Yet one of the most important and overlooked resolutions is being prepared for emergencies.
This year alone, Georgians experienced deadly tornadoes, a record-breaking heat wave and several floods. Even before hurricane season officially began, nearly seven inches of rain fell in Thomas County on June 6. The deluge overwhelmed culverts and storm drains, flooded homes and closed several roads. Another flooding event occurred in August, when 10 inches of rain in less than 24 hours left large parts of Tift County under water.
That’s why the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security’s (GEMA) Ready Georgia campaign is asking all residents, families and businesses to make disaster preparedness one of their 2013 resolutions. Although getting prepared is something almost everyone agrees is a good idea, many of us still haven’t taken the time to actually do it – or aren’t sure how. According to a 2012 survey conducted by GEMA, only 38 percent of Georgians believe they need to be prepared to survive for the recommended 72 hours following a large-scale emergency. In addition, only 40 percent of parents polled in the survey were aware of the protocol for any emergency at their children’s school.
To prepare for manmade or natural disasters, follow three simple steps:
- Create a Ready kit of emergency supplies including nonperishable food, water, a NOAA All-hazards weather radio and flash light with extra batteries
- Develop a communications plan to reconnect with family
- Stay informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in your area and appropriate responses.
Ready Georgia’s website, www.ready.ga.gov, helps make the process simple by allowing you to create an online profile and receive a tailored plan for the entire family with specific lists of supplies and customized plans. Children can visit the ReadyKids page for age-appropriate information, videos and games, while adults can find local emergency contact information, learn about Georgia-specific disasters and read preparedness testimonials from local sports stars. For preparedness on the go, families can also download Ready Georgia's free mobile app, which includes many of these features in an easy, mobile format.
If you are a small business owner, it’s also important to make sure your workplace has a business continuity plan. Ready Georgia’s Ready Your Business guide can take you through the process of thinking about how your business would handle these situations on a step-by-step basis.
Being prepared is the best defense against the unexpected, so use this opportunity to learn how to become your own first responder during emergency situations. Tornadoes, storms and floods can devastate communities, but the damage can be minimized if we’re prepared. For more information, visit www.ready.ga.gov.