As students statewide prepare to go back to school, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency encourages parents to be prepared as well. Just last month, a survey commissioned by GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign revealed that only 40 percent of the polled parents were aware of the protocol for any emergency at their children’s school.
With hurricane season under way and severe weather an ongoing threat, back-to-school preparation should involve more than just new clothes, text books and classroom supplies. It’s also the perfect time to update Ready kits and add school emergency information to family communications plans.
For example, what are your schools’ comprehensive emergency plans? How will you reconnect with your children should a disaster strike during school hours? Before sending kids to class, parents and guardians should:
• Ask if the school has an approved safety plan.
• Ask if students and faculty regularly conduct fire and tornado drills and are prepared to “shelter-in-place” if need be.
• Ask what to do if there is a crisis at the school. Parents should not go to the school – instead, they should listen to television and radio for reunification instructions.
To help families prepare, Ready Georgia offers the tools needed to make an emergency supply kit, develop a communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Visitors to the website, www.ready.ga.gov, can create an online profile to receive a tailored plan for the entire family that includes the specific amount of supplies to put in their household Ready kits. Parents can also enter schools’ emergency contacts, learn about Georgia-specific disasters and read preparedness testimonials from local sports stars. Children’s games and activities can be found on the ReadyKids page, and for preparedness on the go, families can download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app to learn how to prepare for emergencies, create family communications plans and more.
Even with the heightened attention given to emergency preparedness after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, the 2012 GEMA survey reveals that many Georgians have yet to take the necessary steps toward being ready for a large scale emergency. For instance, only 38 percent of survey respondents believe they need to be prepared to survive for the recommended 72 hours following a large-scale emergency. In addition, 71 percent have not arranged a family meeting place or reconnection plan. Recent events, such as the spring 2011 tornado outbreak across Georgia, prove that you can never be too prepared and that a disaster can happen anywhere, at any time.
As kids go back to school, the best way to ensure the safety of every family member is to prepare, plan, stay informed about potential threats to the community, and get involved in the preparation process. For more information about being prepared in Georgia, visit www.ready.ga.gov.