By Curt Yeomans
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has announced it will host two programs for children in September to celebrate the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Preparedness Month.
GEMA will partner with Home Depot stores across the state on Saturday, Sept. 5 from 9 a.m., to 12 p.m., to host free emergency preparedness workshops for children ages 5 to 12.
Fifth-graders across the state also have until Sept. 30 to submit either a 500-word essay on what it takes to be prepared for an emergency, or a piece of original artwork which demonstrates at least one of the three steps to be prepared for an emergency.
"Every Georgian, even children, should know how to prepare for emergencies, and how to respond if the unexpected happens," Charley English, director of GEMA and the state Office of Homeland Security, said in a written statement. "During National Preparedness Month, this contest is a good way for families to talk about disasters, which can sometimes be an unsettling subject to address.
"By learning how to be ready, children can be confident about safety and help their families be their own first responders," English said.
The three steps people should take to be prepared for an emergency are: have an emergency preparedness kit, make a plan for what a person's family should do in the event of an emergency, and be aware of the various types of emergencies that could occur, according to FEMA's Ready.gov web site.
According to the Ready.gov web site, FEMA recommends every emergency preparedness kit include one gallon of water, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, a whistle to call for help, a dust mask, moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a can opener, local maps, and a cell phone with a charger.
Georgia residents should be aware that the state faces possible emergencies such as drought, earthquakes, explosions, extreme heat, floods, house fires, hurricanes, an influenza pandemic, thunderstorms and lightning, tornadoes, wildfires, and ice storms, according to GEMA's Ready Georgia web site.
"An overwhelming majority - almost 80 percent - of our state's residents admit they are not prepared to face a large-scale disaster," English said. "By acting on Ready Georgia's simple message of 'prepare, plan and stay informed,' individuals, families, businesses and communities have the power to become their own first responders during emergency situations."
First-place winners in GEMA's Ready Georgia art and essay contest will receive a Home Depot emergency preparedness kit, a Disney DVD and a Radio Disney CD prize pack, and an Imagine It! The Children's Museum of Atlanta glow-in-the-dark star kit.
Second-place winners will receive the emergency preparedness kit, the DVD and CD prize pack, and either a beading kit or a spiro giro pen from Imagine It! The Children's Museum of Atlanta.
Third-place winners will receive the emergency preparedness kit, as well as the DVD and CD prize pack.
Entry forms for the art and essay contest can be found online at www.ready.ga.gov, and entries can be sent to Ready Georgia Contest, c/o Cookerly Public Relations, 3500 Lenox Road, Suite 510, Atlanta, Ga., 30326. Essay entries can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the contest, log onto www.ready.ga.gov/Get-Involved/ReadyKids/.