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Ready Georgia campaign kicks off new year

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Starting in January, the Henry County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) will be out in force in a campaign to educate the community on the importance of being prepared for emergencies.

The agency is working toward being storm-ready, and re-certified through the National Weather Service, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The campaign will move into full swing in February, during Severe Weather Month, according to Don Ash, Henry's EMA director. By then, local EMA representatives would have visited with various community groups, including the county's senior centers and several of its Boy Scout Troops to educate them on emergency preparedness.

GEMA's Ready Georgia campaign is an effort to remind residents statewide to be prepared for an emergency, even during the winter months.

"January brings winter storms with ice, snow and potential power outages," said GEMA Director Charley English. "Don't wait for someone else to take care of you and your family: Now is the time to plan and prepare."

The Ready Georgia campaign has three suggestions for residents to become more prepared in case of an emergency - create an emergency supply kit; make a family emergency plan; and be informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in one's area and their appropriate responses.

In metro Atlanta, tornadoes may be a concern in the coming months, as evidenced by the tornadoes that tore through urban and suburban parts of the metro area last March.

"The good thing to have on hand is a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio," said Donnie Reece, Henry's EMA officer. "You can have a kit, but if you don't have a plan and know how to use it, then the kit is worthless. The best way you can plan for severe weather is to have a plan, and know how to act."

According to Reece, one's emergency supply kit should include non-perishable food, water, blankets, flash lights, batteries, tape, and a first-aid kit.

There should be three gallons of water, per family member, per day, for three days. If residents prefer canned food items, they should remember to include a manual can opener. A mini-tool kit that includes a hammer, screw driver, knife, and a mini-saw can be helpful during emergencies situations, also.

Residents should make sure everything, from their emergency kits to their automobile, is working properly.

"I recommend that everybody update their kit for every season," he said. "During the winter, it's always nice to have sand and ice scrapers on hand."

Parents should also make contingency plans for their family and consider whether school will be out, daycare will be available, or there will be adequate means of transportation during times of emergencies.

By taking the steps, Georgians will be prepared for potential winter power outages and icy roads, experts say.

The Ready Georgia web site provides online, step-by-step tools, which enable you to create a custom preparedness plan and emergency supply kit.

"Remember, 70 percent of fatalities related to ice and snow occur in automobiles, and approximately 25 percent of all winter-related fatalities are people caught off-guard in the storm," said English, GEMA director. "By making the decision to be Ready in 2009, and following a few simple steps, Georgians will minimize the impact of any emergency, including winter weather."

For more information, visit the Ready Georgia web site or call 1-800-TRY-GEMA.

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On the net:

Georgia Ready:

www.ready.ga.gov