While spring brings warmer temperatures, especially welcome after our dreary, cold, rainy winter, it also ushers in a greater chance of stormy weather. There are several things you can do ahead of time to help stay safe during a severe weather event. The first thing is know what types of severe weather are possible in your area. The second is to have a way to receive severe weather warnings. The third is to have a plan. Make sure you know what to do and where to go during a severe weather event to keep out of harm’s way.
Severe weather risks.
Severe weather can occur any time of the day and any time of the year, but in Georgia, it’s more likely during the spring and in the fall. Severe weather typically refers to thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods, and Georgia can, and has, experienced them all.
Make sure you know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means conditions are favorable for a specific type of severe weather. Be prepared to take action. A warning means severe weather is occurring or has been indicated on radar. Take appropriate action immediately.
Severe weather notifications.
Make sure you have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings when they are issued for your area. Do not rely on an outdoor warning siren (a.k.a. tornado sirens) as your only warning. Outdoor warning sirens are just one tool utilized in Cherokee County to keep residents safe.
Outdoor warning sirens originally were placed in areas such as ballparks and shopping centers, where people might be outside and have no other way of receiving a tornado warning. As time has gone by and technology improved, most people carry a smartphone with them all the time. There are many weather apps available so you can receive a warning directly on your phone.
Also, keep in mind that outdoor warning sirens are not designed to alert people who are inside their homes and especially not when they are asleep. Homes are designed to keep out outside noises, but an NOAA Weather Radio is an excellent way to be notified at home. The radio can be programmed specifically for your county, and will only sound when a watch or warning is issued for your county.
Have a plan.
Make sure you know where your “safe place” is located at home and work. Pay attention any time severe weather is mentioned in the forecast, and check back regularly for updates.
You can get more in-depth information about preparing for severe weather by going to the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency website (www.cherokeega-ema.org), the National Weather Service website (www.weather.gov/ffc/) or Ready Gov website (www.ready.gov).
By Renee Cornelison is director of the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency.