COVINGTON — Newton County residents have already seen their fair share of severe weather this year, but there's always the possibility for more.
Whether it's ice, snow, thunderstorm or tornado, residents need to be prepared for severe weather events. Next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal and the Newton County and Georgia Emergency Management agencies are encouraging all citizens to take time now to prepare for extreme weather that could occur this year.
Regardless of the emergency, a few guidelines apply. Every family member should know important phone numbers for schools, offices, home and emergency services, for example. GEMA also recommends identifying a meeting place near the home where family members can gather if separated. Map out evacuation routes in case of an ordered evacuation and keep at least one-fourth a tank of gas in the car.
At a Glance
A kit of emergency supplies can be a life-saver during severe weather. GEMA recommends having the following supplies on hand:
• Water: At least three gallons per person for drinking and sanitation
• Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
• Battery-powered or hand crank NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Face mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off area
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Local maps
• Specific items for children, family members' special needs or pets
• Cash or travelers checks
• Important documents in a waterproof container
• Blankets and warm clothes
Jody Nolan with Newton County EMA said it's also important to keep essential medication on hand.
"For those things that are life sustainable, like insulin, people don't need to wait until the last minute to get prescriptions filled in the event of a significant weather event, when someone could be trapped at home," Nolan said.
One of the most frequent calls received by EMA during hazardous weather is related to home oxygen use. There are an estimated 4,000 Newton County residents on home oxygen, Nolan said.
"The method of delivery has changed now. People have generation systems. So people accustomed to plugging in home oxygen devices ... should still maintain prescriptions for bottled O2 so if the power's off they're still able to connect to the manual delivery device," Nolan said.
All residents should invest in an NOAA weather radio so they will be alerted when a severe weather event is occurring, he said.
Nolan commended Newton County residents for listening to the warnings of public safety officials during the recent ice storm and said they should continue that attitude in the future.
"People did well to heed the warning the last go 'round. The night of the storm there was a low amount of accidents and problems," he said.
Also, residents would do well to buy a small bag of de-icing agent such as calcium chloride to spread on driveways should another freeze occur. Nolan also asked that in the event of inclement weather residents check on their elderly neighbors.
Finally, don't forget pets.
"People need to be aware if they have dogs and cats, during severe weather, they need to take precautions to protect their animals. Don't go into the basement and leave a dog out on a chain."
Pet and livestock owners should also have extra food on hand.
For more information about Severe Weather Awareness Week, visit www.ready.ga.gov.