Friday, January 7, 2011

GEMA Urges Georgians to Prepare for Possible Severe Winter Weather

Agency suggests residents turn to its Ready Georgia campaign at

National Weather Service meteorologists said today that widespread accumulations of snow and ice are possible on Sunday and Monday for areas of central and north Georgia.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) – Office of Homeland Security warns that widespread power outages can become an issue during severe winter weather and encourages Georgians to turn to its Ready Georgia campaign to prepare, plan and stay informed about severe winter weather.

“No Georgian should be caught off guard, as severe winter weather is predicted and may cause power outages and transportation challenges across the state,” said GEMA / Homeland Security Director Charley English.

English offers these tips from GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign that residents can use to become familiar with the emergency preparedness steps for severe winter weather.

Prepare a Ready Kit of Emergency Supplies
Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies for your home and car. Include at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food, water, a flash light with extra batteries, a NOAA Weather Radio, adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm, as well as additional supplies for the unique needs of your family.
Ensure proper home insulation by placing weather stripping around doors and windows, allowing faucets to drip during cold weather to prevent freezing and opening cabinet doors to let heat reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing.
Only use portable generators outdoors _ the exhaust contains deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
If using a space heater:

– Follow all safety guidelines and instructions for use provided by the manufacturer.

– Ensure adequate ventilation _ propane and kerosene heaters often have open flames, emitting carbon monoxide.

– Keep it at least three feet away from combustible items.

– Turn off before leaving a room or going to sleep.

– Always supervise children and pets when using a space heater.

– Do not use a space heater to dry clothes.

– Allow heater to cool down completely before adding fuel.

Create a Winter Weather Plan
Plan to stay inside, if necessary, for at least three days. If trapped outside during severe winter try to stay dry, cover all body parts, periodically move limbs to keep blood circulating and build a fire, if possible.
Avoid traveling by car in icy conditions. If you must travel and do get stuck, stay with your car. Leave the overhead lights on when the engine is running so you can be seen.
Plan for pets to come inside and store adequate food and water for them.
Create an emergency communications plan so family members will know who to contact if separated during a storm. Designate at least one out-of-town contact that all family members can call.

Stay Informed about Winter Weather
Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio and monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet to stay informed of winter weather.
Learn about the terms used to describe winter hazards such as freezing rain, sleet, winter weather advisory, winter storm watch and winter storm warning.
Know the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. If you suspect you have frostbite or hypothermia, get medical attention immediately.

– Frostbite occurs when body tissue freezes. Extremities may have a white or pale appearance and may lose feeling. The most susceptible areas are fingers, toes, earlobes, or the tip of your nose.

– Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.

For more information on preparing for winter storms, tune into Ready Georgia’s “Preparing for Winter Weather” podcast or visit The site offers an interactive preparedness tool that generates customized checklists of emergency supplies and communications plans to take the guesswork out of getting ready for the unexpected.

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