There’s no place like… Georgia’s 2015 PrepareAthon! for Tornado Safety

PrepareAthon blogTornadoes present a very real threat. About 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States every year and every state is at risk. In Georgia alone, there were 43 tornadoes recorded in 2014, which accounted for $1.85 million in Georgia property damage.

Yes, the threat of tornadoes is very real, but is it possible to learn from a fictional tornado? We thought so. This is why we’ve decided to examine how things would have played out differently for Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz had she participated in Georgia’s Nov. 4 PrepareAthon! for Tornado Safety.

If Dorothy had participated in Georgia’s PrepareAthon! for Tornado Safety, she would have understood it’s important to:

  • Establish a family communications plan: It’s critical to have a family communications plan, which outlines how family members will contact one another and reconnect if separated. These plans also establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find and address the unique needs of pets, like Toto.
  • Understand the emergency notifications: The National Weather Service issues tornado alerts when weather conditions occur that make tornadoes more likely. Watches and warnings are science-based predictions that are intended to provide adequate time for action.
    • Tornado watch: A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions in an area indicate an increased risk for severe weather that may be capable of producing a tornado
    • Tornado warning: A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. On average, tornado warnings are issued 13 minutes prior to the event, but warning times vary greatly and could be shorter
  • Know the signs: It’s important to know the warning signs of a tornado in the event an official tornado alert is not received. These signs include:
    • A rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends form a thunderstorm toward the ground
    • An approaching cloud of debris, especially at ground level, which can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible
    • A loud roar that sounds similar to a freight train
    • A strange quiet occurring within or shortly after a thunderstorm
    • Debris dropping from the sky
    • A change in the color of the sky (this may not have been helpful for Dorothy in the black and white film version – but it could be helpful for you)
  • Shelter in a safe location: While a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter provide “near-absolute” protection against tornadoes, there are areas of the house where individuals should seek shelter if they cannot access one of these locations.
    • Safest place: Basement or interior room, stairwell or hallway on a low floor
    • Worst place: Avoid windows, doors and outside walls
  • Download the Ready Georgia mobile app: Ready Georgia’s free mobile app turns an iPhone or Android smartphone into an invaluable preparedness tool by providing mobile access to emergency contact information, a list of Ready kit supplies and even local shelter locations in the wake of a disaster. A smartphone would fit more easily in Dorothy’s basket than print-outs of all of this information.

Granted, Dorothy would never have met the wizard had she known and practiced these things, but we can all agree she would have been much safer. Preparation is important for all Georgia residents, and the Ready Georgia website provides valuable information needed to be informed about potential threats, develop a tailored communications plan and create a disaster supply kit.