Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed September to be National Preparedness Month and urges residents to get fully prepared by taking action. An annual survey indicated that 80% of Georgia’s residents reported being at least somewhat prepared for an emergency or large-scale disaster. This is a 27% increase since the launch of the Ready Georgia campaign in 2008.
Georgia experiences a broad range of natural disasters ranging from tornadoes to hurricanes and even ice storms and earthquakes. The impetus to prepare for emergencies is particularly timely with the approach of Erika. Even though it has been downgraded from a hurricane and then a tropical storm, Erika could still cause flash flooding and damage from gusty winds.
Staying informed is critical in times of national emergencies, and Ready Georgia provides an award-winning app that alerts its citizens in times of crisis. Created by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security, the app will notify phones before disaster strikes.
Emergency management officials stress the need to have 72 hours of food and water stockpiled along with a radio and a first-aid kit. Many of Georgia’s residents have done this, but only 36% have arranged a family meeting place, and only 27% have purchased a NOAA weather radio.
Pam Tucker, the director of Columbia County’s Emergency and Operations Division encourages people to gradually prepare, so they won’t be overwhelmed. She suggests making a checklist and buying an item each time you go to the store. Water is most critical, then food and a first-aid kit. Be sure and account for pets when factoring in water usage.
Tucker encourages people to be innovative. For instance, her family had plastic sheeting on hand and was able to wall off a room in their house to stay warm during a winter power outage. However, she strongly discourages the use of candles.
While 67% of Georgians surveyed had a 3 day supply of water and nonperishable food, Georgia’s emergency management officials hope to up this number, so that residents will be able to survive the next natural disaster.