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Georgia wants you to spend week getting ready for disaster
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Emergency management professionals across the state are spending this week focusing on the what ifs of weather.

They want us to do the same.

State officials have made this Severe Weather Awareness Week, and are asking the state’s residents to make a plan for whatever disaster may strike.

Georgia’s residents, who face the possibility of experiencing tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms or heat waves, especially should be prepared for disastrous weather, said Lisa Janak, spokeswoman for Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

In 2008, the metro Atlanta area, including Gainesville, experienced a total of 527 severe weather events, said Barry Gooden, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

"Georgia runs the disaster gauntlet," Janak said. "...If it’s bad, it can happen, so people need to be aware of that and prepare before disaster happens. Otherwise, it’s too late."

GEMA’s Ready Georgia Web site says Georgians should have a plan for emergencies and create an emergency supply kit that will meet their needs for at least three days should an emergency occur.

Generic kits include basic supplies — a gallon of water per person per day, a three-day supply of nonperishable food, first aid kits and flashlights — but the Ready Georgia Web site can help Georgians create a kit specific to their families’ needs, Janak said.

"It will calculate exactly how much food and water you need for your family, and it will give you examples of the kind of food you will need," Janak said.

Being prepared also means finding a way to be aware when severe weather strikes, Janak said. GEMA and the National Weather Service are also pushing the need for weather radios in every household.

Janak said weather radios can be the most crucial component of being prepared for severe weather, because they can alert you of severe weather in time to take cover.

The cost of the radios can range from $25 to $250, but Janak said there is no need for an expensive one. You only need a weather radio that is programmable to give county-specific information and that has a battery backup that will keep it working when electricity is out.

"In my opinion, they should be as common in every home as a smoke alarm," Janak said. "That’s what we’re trying to do ... make sure every home has one of these NOAA weather radios in it."

As part of this year’s awareness campaign, Hideki Electronics is offering Georgia residents a discount on its line of Honeywell NOAA Weather Radios. Those who register and create an emergency preparedness profile on the Ready Georgia Web site also will be eligible to win one of the company’s $250 weather radios, according to a news release from GEMA.

Janak discourages people from taking on the "don’t worry, be happy" attitude when it comes to weather.

"Our biggest enemy as emergency managers is complacency," Janak said. "... If you prepare now, you make your family feel safer and you’ll be ready."