The week of February 3-7, 2014 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia.
This annual observance is designed to educate Georgians about a variety of severe weather-related topics. Forsyth County residents are encouraged to get ready for unexpected events, practice emergency response procedures for all types of severe weather and learn more about threats.
"It is important that every household not only assemble and maintain a disaster supply kit to be prepared year-round, but also have in place an emergency plan," Forsyth County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Danny Bowman said. "I encourage all households to develop a plan - it will no doubt prove valuable should you be faced with an emergency situation."
When developing an emergency plan, consider including topics such as the following:
• Know how you will contact one another and reconnect if separated.
• Establish a family meeting place that is familiar and easy to find.
• Address in your plan the unique needs of pets, older loved ones and family members with special needs.
When assembling a disaster supply kit, some of the items recommended for inclusion are:
• Water: one gallon per person per day, for at least 3 days
• Food: at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food
• Can opener
• Radio: battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Local maps
During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Forsyth County residents are encouraged to focus on severe weather threats and information, and to learn how they can prepare for each. The suggested daily focus is:
Monday, February 3: Family preparedness/NOAA weather radios
Tuesday, February 4: Thunderstorm safety
Wednesday, February 5: Tornado safety (statewide tornado drill)
Thursday, February 6: Lightning safety
Friday, February 7: Flooding
On Wednesday, February 5, Forsyth County will participate in the statewide tornado drill that is a part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.
"Residents should note that this is only a drill," Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Chris Grimes said. "During the drill on February 5, the county's outdoor severe weather sirens will sound the audible siren as a test, weather permitting."
The county has 17 outdoor severe weather sirens located throughout the county, designed to notify residents who are outdoors that severe weather is in the area. The sirens are activated (warning tone) in the event Forsyth County is placed under a tornado warning. Regular monthly testing of the audible siren (test tone) takes place at noon on the first Wednesday of every month, weather permitting.
The Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency encourages residents to sign up for weather alert notifications, for use in concert with the county's outdoor severe weather sirens and a NOAA weather radio.
Forsyth County residents can sign up to receive these time-sensitive weather alerts for severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings and tornado warnings. Citizens can elect to be notified when alerts are issued via telephone calls, emails or text messages. There is no cost for citizens to sign up to receive these weather alerts, but phone usage or text charges may apply.
To sign up for the alerts, visit the Forsyth County Web site at www.forsythco.com and look for the 'Weather Alerts' icon on the home page. You will be directed to a secure sign-up page hosted by Twenty First Century Communications. The information provided during the registration process determines the geographical region of the county for which you will receive alerts.
Another valuable new tool for residents is the Ready Georgia smartphone app. This free app provides mobile access to a variety of emergency preparedness tools. To download the app or to learn more about preparedness, visit www.ready.ga.gov.
For more information, call the Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency office at 770-205-5674.