Nanette Chastine discovered the importance of emergency preparedness during an EF-3 tornado strike on April 27, 2011. The Griffin resident spent that night huddled in a spare bathroom with her daughter and pets, armed with only blankets and a flashlight. Despite some property damage and a week without electricity, Chastine considers herself fortunate. Her home was still standing after the tornado passed and her family was not injured. She has since compiled emergency supplies, including a NOAA weather radio, and created a family communications plan to help ensure safety in the event of another disaster.
“I realized then we were not even close to being ready for the catastrophe,” said Chastine.” We were extremely lucky the night the tornado hit. However, luck isn’t always on your side. You never know if you have five days, five hours or only five minutes of warning before an impending disaster, so being prepared could save your life.”
Chastine is one of many Georgians that have faced disaster in recent years. From deadly tornadoes and dangerous wildfires to record flooding, the state has experienced its share of emergencies in recent years. And with the peak of hurricane season still to come, there is a chance for more severe weather in the months ahead.
To promote the importance of preparing before disasters strike, Gov. Nathan Deal –in cooperation with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security’sReady Georgiacampaign – is encouraging statewide participation in National Preparedness Month this September. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Ready America campaign, National Preparedness Month was founded after 9/11 to increase awareness and encourage action for emergency preparedness nationwide. Throughout the month, Ready Georgia will join a nationwide coalition of thousands of private, public and nonprofit organizations, each hosting local events and initiatives designed to motivate people to prepare their homes, workplaces and communities for emergencies of all kinds.
“To borrow a line from our latest public service announcements, ‘Today is the day before,’” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Disasters can strike quickly, often with no warning. That means we need to treat today as if it is the day before a disaster, and we need to take steps to prepare ourselves now. That’s a tough message, but it’s critical. It helps to have an occasion, a point on the calendar that reminds us to take action. That’s the idea behind National Preparedness Month and the activities that Ready Georgia and emergency management agencies across the state are organizing in September.”
Student Art, Essay and Video Contest
For the fifth year, Georgia’s third, fourth and fifth-graders have the chance to commemorate National Preparedness Month by entering Ready Georgia’s Art, Essay and Video Contest. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 18th, students can submit entries that creatively reflect the theme – “Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared” – and illustrate their personal experiences or knowledge of disaster preparedness. A team of judges will review the entries and select the top finishers, with first, second and third prizes awarded in the art and essay categories, and one winner selected in the video category. All winners will be featured on the Ready Georgia website, Flickr page and Facebook page.
Facebook Caption Contest
In addition, Ready Georgia will launch a month-long Facebook contest on Sept. 4 that challenges residents to craft catchy captions to accompany various pet memes – all featuring an emergency preparedness theme. As part of the“Ready, Pet…Caption!” contest, participants can compete for prizes by providing their most creative description of the featured weekly image. A ‘judge’s choice’ will be chosen by the GEMA team each week, while ‘people’s choice’ will be whichever caption draws the most ‘likes’ during that same timeframe.
Many groups have already committed to supporting the National Preparedness Month message locally.On Sept. 7, Ready Georgia is partnering with The Home Depot stores statewide to provide a preparedness-themed activity during the company’s monthly Kids Workshop. And throughout the month, Georgians can access a Verizon Wireless digital coupon for 25 percent off an accessory that can be utilized during severe weather emergencies, such as a phone charger or battery, by simply texting “ReadyGeorgia” to 22699. The offer is part of a joint effort between the wireless giant and Ready Georgia to promote disaster readiness. Other activities include in-store displays with emergency tips and resources, as well as a series of customer tutorials on free preparedness apps at select Verizon stores. More events from around the state can be found on Ready Georgia’s community calendar.
Statistics from the National Weather Service reveal that from 1995 to 2012, weather-related events have killed at least 180 people in Georgia and injured countless others. But even in the wake of these threats, a recent survey reveals many people are still not prepared. The Ready Georgia campaign provides resources that make preparedness easy. By visiting www.ready.ga.govand creating a Ready profile, Georgians can receive a tailored communications plan for the entire family that includes the specific amount of supplies to put in their household Ready kits. The website also offers local emergency contact information and an online toolkit to help individuals and organizations localize Ready Georgia’s message. For those with functional needs, the website offers emergency preparedness videos in American Sign Language, informational documents in Braille, large-print versions of promotional flyers and written transcripts of all audio/visual materials.
“The best way to survive a disaster is to become your own first responder by taking the necessary steps to prepare,” said English. “Ready Georgia provides all the resources needed to prepare for the unexpected, so I encourage our citizens to visit the website and participate in the various programs during National Preparedness Month.”
Ready Georgiais 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 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 website, free mobile app, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences. Ready Georgia is also on Facebook and YouTube.