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Posted: June 23, 2010 12:30 a.m.

How to prepare your family for summer weather

Summer in Georgia brings camping trips, cookouts and afternoons by the pool. Unfortunately, the warm weather also brings severe storms and other heat-related hazards that can turn summer fun into summer threats.

Luckily, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s preparedness campaign Ready Georgia can help you get ready for the worst while you are enjoying the best of what summer has to offer.

"Harm from summer threats can be mitigated, and Ready Georgia recommends three simple steps to being ready for whatever comes our way: prepare, plan and stay informed," said Lisa Janak Newman, spokesperson for GEMA. "So before packing your beach bag, be sure to pack your Ready kit."

Ready kits should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a NOAA Weather Radio and other affordable household items. Ready Georgia offers a full checklist of recommended supplies at ready.ga.gov.

In addition to a Ready kit, Janak Newman advises developing a communications plan that includes emergency contact information and an evacuation route out of your neighborhood, something only 35 percent of Georgians have identified, as found by a recent Ready Georgia survey.

Summer will inevitably bring days with extreme heat. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, across the nation an average of 1,500 people die each year from heat exposure, so it is best to stay indoors and drink plenty of water when temperatures soar. Janak Newman says to insulate your home, shade windows and never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Also, become familiar with the medical conditions that can result from over-exposure to heat, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

High temperatures often lead to severe thunderstorms and lightning, which caused over $400 million in property damage last year in Georgia alone. All thunderstorms, Janak Newman says, are dangerous because they can produce strong winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail and flash flooding. She advises taking shelter in a home, building or hard top automobile if severe weather hits and to postpone outdoor activities if a storm is headed your way.

Extreme heat can also lead to drought. Georgia residents should be careful during these times to conserve water use. According to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Management District, 54 percent of water use in Georgia is residential, so the best prevention starts at home. Janak Newman said it is good to know how to conserve water in your household: wash only full loads of dishes and laundry, fix household leaks and install low-flow toilets and showerheads. Also, be aware of local water restrictions and listen to the directions of water authorities.

For more information on emergency preparedness in Georgia this summer, visit Ready Georgia at ready.ga.gov and listen to the summer threats podcast on the Ready Georgia website for tips on managing specific threats. Georgians who use the campaign’s interactive planning tool from now until July 19 are also entered to win a NOAA Weather Radio.

Preparedness now can reduce stress later, so prepare, plan and stay informed to make those days by the pool much more relaxing.

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