Severe weather awareness week

Tuscaloosa tornado 2011 Mike Wilhelm

February 6-12 is Severe Weather Awareness week and the Atlanta Red Cross asks 15 questions to get you thinking about how prepared you really are:

1. When do tornadoes occur?

tornadoes can happen just about any time of year in Georgia. The months of March – May are most active though, with a major peak in mid- April and another weaker peak around November.

2. How often do tornadoes occur?

In the United States, 600 to 700 tornadoes are reported each year.

3. What is the difference between a tornado “watch” and “warning”?

“Watch” – a tornado is possible; “warning” a tornado has been spotted in your area.

3. Which is the only city to appear twice on top 25 deadliest storms in the U.S.

Gainesville, Georgia. In fact, Gainesville is also home to the 5th deadliest U.S. storm which claimed 203 lives in  April of 1936.

5. Do tornadoes avoid big cities?

No, As evidenced by the storms of March 2008 in Atlanta, tornadoes can touch down in big cities.

6. How do I know when a tornado is about to hit?

Stay tuned for storm warnings; Look for sickly greenish or black color in the sky; Fast moving clouds; Hail; among others.

7.  Where are tornadoes most common in Georgia?

Visit: for more information

8.What do I do if I am caught outside during a storm?

Find shelter ASAP. See below.

9. Where is the best place to be during a tornado?

In a storm shelter specifically designed for that use inside your basement or outside your home entirely. If you don’t have a storm shelter or a basement, a small windowless room or a closet will do.

10. Where do I find shelter if a storm is approaching?

Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.

11. What supplies should I have in case of a thunderstorm?

See below

12. Should I unplug all my household appliances if a storm is approaching?

Yes.  Unplug all household appliances to avoid a power surge.

13. Is taking a shower during a storm dangerous?

Yes. Avoid taking showers or running water for that matter.

14. Are air conditioners ok to run during a storm?

No. Turn off air conditioners  to avoid power surges and costly repairs.

15. Who should I call in case of an emergency?

9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number (EMS). 

 More Information: 

Red Cross surveys home hit by tornado in Buford, Ga. December 2010

As evidenced by last month’s touch down in Buford, Geogia, tornadoes can happen just about any time of year in Georgia. The months of March – May are most active though, with a major peak in mid- April and another weaker peak around November.

The Atlanta Red Cross urges everyone to review their severe weather plans to make sure that they are prepared for severe weather threats.

Prepare a Home Tornado Plan

  • Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit Containing

  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Canned food and can opener.
  • At least three gallons of water per person.
  • Protective clothing, bedding, or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn natural gas service back on.)

To minimize your chances of being harmed by lightning, the Red Cross recommends that you take the following precautions:

  • Keep an eye on the sky. Look for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for the latest weather forecasts and emergency updates.

If a storm is approaching:

  • Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • Unplug appliances. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances.  Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. Power surges from lightning can overload the compressor, resulting in a costly repair job!
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows. If windows break due to objects blown by the wind, the shades will prevent glass from shattering into your home.
If you are caught outside during a storm:
  • Try to reach a safe building.
  • Avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers.
  • Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe. If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!
  • Make sure the place you pick is not subject to flooding.

When the storm is over:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

If someone is struck by lightning:

  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) number.
  • The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned or have other injuries. People who have been struck by lightning do not retain an electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look and care for other possible injuries.

Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
  • Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means:
    • A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area.
    • A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately.
  • Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish

For more information:

Contact the Atlanta Red Cross if you are interested in taking a Red Cross first aid and CPR course.  For more information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe during emergencies, visit,,,

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s