GEMA Urges Residents to Prepare for Thunderstorms
GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers information on how to get ready for some of Georgia’s most underestimated storms
(ATLANTA) – All thunderstorms have the potential to be dangerous, because they can produce strong winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail and flooding. Yet because they are so common in Georgia, they are often underestimated. February 4 is Thunderstorm Safety Day, part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) is encouraging all Georgians to learn about the threats posed by thunderstorms and prepare for them.
According to the National Weather Service, Georgia experiences 45 to 55 days with thunderstorms each year, most often in the spring and summer. However, thunderstorms can occur at any time of the year. Nearly 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe, meaning they have winds of at least 58 miles per hour, hail at least three-quarters of an inch thick or are capable of producing a tornado.
In addition to lightning and flooding, one of the biggest threats from severe thunderstorms are straight-line winds, which can reach speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour and produce damage similar to a tornado. These winds occur an average of 19 days per year in Georgia and have the potential to turn tree branches and other small objects into dangerous debris.
GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers the following tips to prepare for thunderstorms:
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
What you should do if a thunderstorm is likely in your area:
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Get inside a home or building.
- Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no protection from lightning. However, the frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
- Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
- Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts, or download the Ready Georgia mobile app.
Avoid the following:
- Natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in an open area.
- Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
- Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
- Anything metal — tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
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About Ready Georgia
Ready Georgia is a statewide campaign designed to educate and empower Georgians to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, potential terrorist attacks and other large-scale emergencies. The campaign is a project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and provides a local dimension to Ready America, a broader national campaign. Ready Georgia aims to prepare citizens for maintaining self-sufficiency for at least 72 hours following an emergency, and uses an interactive Web site, online community toolkit, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.