Residents of Atlanta, Ga have had their share of bad weather recently and with the current severe weather alert issued by the National Weather Service it seems that more is headed our way. Tornado “season” in Atlanta is usually April, but it is possible for them to happen at most any time. Severe thunderstorms with straight-line winds and large hail most often occur in the spring and summer, peaking in July. According to FEMA, the best defense against tornadoes and storms is to be prepared (sounds like the Boy Scout motto to me). Here are a few basic steps that Atlanta homeowners can take to prepare against severe storms and tornadoes:
- Assemble an emergency kit that includes these items:
- Flashlight and extra batteries;
- Portable, battery-operated radio or weather radio, and extra batteries;
- First aid kit;
- Emergency food and water;
- Non-electric can opener;
- Essential medicines;
- Cash and credit cards;
- Bedding or a sleeping bag; and
- Sturdy shoes and a change of clothes.
- Create a family communication plan, so that if your family is not together when a tornado strikes, you’ll have contact numbers to keep in touch. Sometimes calling an out-of-state relative as a main point of contact is a good idea, since phone lines may be down.
- Move to a shelter, such as a basement of interior room with no or few windows on the lowest floor of the home.
- If you are outside and no shelter is available, find a low spot that won’t flood. Stay away from trees, fences and poles. If you are in a forest, take shelter under the shorter trees. If your skin tingles or hair stands on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Make yourself as small as you can by putting your hands on your knees with your head between them. Your goal is to be as small as possible and to minimize your contact with the ground.
- Learn these tornado danger signs:
- An approaching cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible;
- Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still; and
- Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
When a tornado is sighted, remember to get low and stay low.
FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. FEMA’s new mobile Web site, m.fema.gov makes it easier than ever to access critical information regarding emergency preparedness and what to do before and after a disaster right from your smartphone.