Prepare for winter weather emergencies

It’s time to start thinking about winter weather emergencies and whether your family is prepared to effectively deal with them. It is not a matter of if a winter weather emergency will strike, but when.

It was only a year ago that snow and ice effectively shut down Fayette County and many others locations in the metro Atlanta area for several days. In that regard, Fayette County Fire and Emergency Services Lt. Jason Crenshaw said winter weather emergency preparedness is as important as preparing for tornadoes or any other disaster event that may occur.

“Historically the northern part of Georgia feels the effects of winter weather more frequently, but we have to be prepared here in Fayette County due to how unpredictable the weather season can be,” Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw said the biggest concerns with winter storms are losses of heat, power, telephone service, a shortage of supplies and the possibility of being stranded while traveling.

“This is especially critical if snow storms and icy conditions impair the roadways and continue for more than a day,” Crenshaw said. “Having a winter weather emergency preparedness kit can help to protect your family if you find yourself affected and stranded during a winter storm.”

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Fayette County Emergency Management recommend most emergency preparedness kits include the same basic items that include enough food and water to last each family member three days, a first aid kit, emergency lighting, a battery operated radio for information and extra batteries.

Crenshaw said that when assembling the winter weather preparedness kit residents should add winter clothes that allow for layering and provide a way to keep dry. Winter preparedness kits should also include blankets and sleeping bags that can provide warmth and protection from the cold, he said.

“As with all preparedness kits, they can be tailored to take care of your families specific needs. You can add anything that you may find helpful when being isolated and having to take care of your family for at least three days. Other items of importance are copies of identification, contact numbers, medications, prescription glasses, books and activities to keep you busy,” said Crenshaw.

Along with maintaining the emergency preparedness “Ready Kit,” GEMA advises residents be aware that a variety of emergencies can occur year-round. That considered, GEMA recommends that households establish a family communication plan for reconnecting if separated and to stay informed about the types of emergencies that can happen in the area.

Further information about building preparedness Ready kits can be found by visiting the “Ready Georgia” website at www.ready.ga.gov

Those interested can establish a log-in account and have assistance building your own personal readiness kit for your family. There is a smartphone app for iPhone and Android users called “Ready Georgia” that can give you on-the-go information about alerts, access to your readiness kit checklist and provide you with information to prepare for different disasters, Crenshaw said.

Research has revealed that individuals aware of the Ready Georgia campaign are more than twice as likely to be prepared for a large-scale emergency as others – ultimately increasing their chance of surviving a potentially deadly storm and reconnecting with loved ones after a disaster. By making a resolution to be ready in 2012, Georgians can reduce the impact of any sudden emergency on themselves, their families and their businesses, according to GEMA.

The Red Cross also offers a winter weather checklist at www.redcross.org as does the federal government at http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/11/winter-weather/.