While many consider the snow and ice that accompanies the winter season to be scenic, people can forget that winter weather has the potential to devastate communities and affect thousands of people. Devastating, thick layers of snow and ice can shut down transportation in many parts of our state, making it important for all Georgia residents to be prepared.

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency's Ready Georgia campaign, along with Paulding County EMA, is urging Georgians to take time to get ready for potentially disastrous weather emergencies this winter.

Winter Weather Preparedness Week was Dec. 5-9 and was created to raise awareness of winter weather hazards and reinforce understanding of associated terminology.

"Winter Weather Preparedness Week is a great time to update plans for potential severe winter weather hazards," said Joey Pelfrey, EMA Director for Paulding County. "Since winter weather in Paulding County can be unpredictable, we recommend everyone check readiness kits this week to make sure everything is still working and useable."

Winter storms are "deceptive killers" because most deaths are indirectly related to storms, according to the National Weather Service. Instead, people die because of events like traffic accidents on icy roads and hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

Ready Georgia and Paulding County EMA encourage all Georgians to prepare for severe weather and replenish necessary supplies among other necessary steps. Each day focuses on different aspects of severe winter weather and provides critical information for preparedness, including these tips:

• Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies for your home. Include at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a NOAA Weather Radio, adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm, as well as additional supplies for the unique needs of your family, such as medication or pet Ready kits.

• Keep an extra Ready kit in the trunk of your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.

• Create an emergency communications plan so family members will know who to contact if separated during a storm. Designate at least one out-of-town contact who all family members can call. Determine a way to let family and friends know you're OK if the power goes out. Create a customized plan for your family using the Ready Georgia website or mobile app.

• Make sure you have a way to stay informed about winter weather. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio or other battery-operated radio to monitor changing winter weather conditions. Download the Ready Georgia mobile app, which includes geo-targeted severe weather and emergency alerts that will notify your phones before disasters strike.

• Winterize your vehicle and keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent your fuel line from freezing.

• Winterize your home by placing weather stripping around doors and windows. During cold weather, allow faucets to drip, and open cabinet doors to let heat reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

• Identify an alternate heat source, like a fireplace or wood-burning stove, and stock sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Paulding County residents looking for more information on how to be informed, make a plan and build a kit for winter weather can contact Paulding Co. EMA Coordinator Stephen Dooley 678-383- 3421 or visit Ready Georgia's website. For preparedness on the go, download the Ready Georgia mobile app.

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 and Homeland Security Agency 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 (www.ready.ga.gov), free mobile app, broadcast and print advertising and public awareness media messaging to reach its audiences.

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