Follow these basic steps to develop a family disaster plan:
- Gather information about hazards
In addition to your local EMA, you may contact the nearest National Weather Service office, Ready Georgia or the American Red Cross. Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn the community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
- Meet with your family to create a plan
Discuss the information you have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot very near your home for an emergency, such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your "family check-in contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate.
- Implement your plan
1. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones.
2. Install safety features in your house, such as a NOAA Weather Radio, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
3. Inspect your home for potential hazards: such as items that can move, fall, break or catch fire; and, correct them.
4. Have family members learn basic safety measures: such as CPR and first-aid; how to use a fire extinguisher; and, how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity in your home.
5. Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number.
6. Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your family's needs for at least three days.
7. Assemble an emergency preparedness kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation.
- Practice and maintain your plan
Ask questions to make sure your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules. Conduct drills. Test your weather radio and smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Test and recharge your fire extinguishers according to the manufacturer's instructions. Replace stored water and food every six months.
For more information, or visit these Web sites: http://www.gema.ga.gov, www.ready.ga.gov, or www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc.
Source: Ready Georgia, a GEMA campaign
With everything from ice storms to floods coming through the area in the last couple years, preparing for severe weather is not just a good idea but a necessary reality. Do you and your family know what to do in case of an emergency?
The Conyers-Rockdale County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), and National Weather Service in observing Feb. 7-11 as Severe Weather Awareness Week.
The goal of the week is to encouraging families to learn emergency preparedness and response procedures for all types of severe weather events. Throughout the week, there will be a different topic focus for each day.
Feb. 7 is Family Preparedness/NOAA Weather Radio Day, Feb. 8 is Thunderstorm Safety, Feb. 9 is Tornado Safety (with a statewide tornado drill), Feb. 10 is Lightning Safety, and Feb. 11 is Flooding (Alternate Drill Day).
Sheriff Jeff Wigington, Rockdale County’s Emergency Management Director, said "Family Preparedness Day is a time for every family to plan and rehearse what they should do during the first 72-hours of any severe weather-related event or disaster."
To help families get started, Ready Georgia, a statewide GEMA emergency preparedness campaign – Office of Homeland Security offers the tools needed to make an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Ready Georgia's interactive Web site, www.ready.ga.gov, provides detailed information on Georgia-specific emergency preparedness and allows users to create a personal profile and receive a customized checklist and a family communications plan.
During winter storms, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes, it could take emergency workers 72-hours or more to reach certain areas in order to open roadways and restore utilities. Experts recommend being self-sufficient for 72-hours, or longer.
"With a little time and effort, families can prepare for severe weather hazards affecting our area. Developing a family disaster plan is the first step," said Wigington.
Also, people should be prepared if severe weather or a disaster may force an evacuation of your neighborhood or confine you to your home. You should plan what to do in case the basic utilities - water, gas, electricity, or telephones -- are cut off.