UGA experts give advice during National Readiness Month

Between facing the current COVID-19 crisis and the first indications of a particularly active hurricane season, experts at the University of Georgia urge citizens to prepare early and stay prepared for weather emergencies.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has started on record, climatologist says Pam knox, who is also director of UGA Weather Network for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She says she expects a dozen more named storms and five to nine hurricanes as the season progresses.

“Since one in four storms directly affects the southeast, Georgia will likely experience more thunderstorm activity as the season intensifies later this summer and fall,” she said. “The season officially ends on November 30, but in an active year it is not uncommon to have storms occurring in December.”

Knox and others UGA cooperative extension professors encourage careful preparation for weather-related emergencies with the additional impacts of COVID-19.

“It is important to assess your property, including the trees, and to sort out any issues before storms strike. Make a plan for your family and business and back up important files, ”she said.

Additional precautions in the event of a pandemic

Developing evacuation plans, stocking up on supplies, and planning for social distancing are all important factors to consider or reassess.

“Develop your plans early – you have no room to improvise this year – and have more than one plan,” said Chatham County Extension coordinator Tim Davis, who stays put during storms. to assist the local emergency management authority. He recommends planning to evacuate further than usual, if possible, due to space limitations and the availability of transport.

“Whatever you’re going to do, you have to think about COVID-19. You have to think about evacuating earlier, further and longer. Shelters are going to have reduced capacity due to social distancing. The capacity to transport people will also be limited. Keep your gas tanks full and your vehicle has daily supplies on hand, ”he said.

You have to think far and wide and get everything you need, so when that storm sets in, you can be calm and serene because you are ready. – Tim Davis

If escape plans include another person’s residence, social distancing and potential isolation should be considered. “It would be nice to have a house that has a part for you and a part of them,” Davis said. “If anyone gets sick, have a place to isolate them.”

And if you’re still having trouble finding supplies now, during, or after a severe storm, it’s likely to be a lot worse, he says.

“Stocks are already limited, and when a hurricane arrives, the shelves are emptied very quickly. You have to think far ahead and get everything you need, so when that storm sets in, you can be calm and serene because you are ready, ”he added. “I think our resupply capacity is also going to be limited. We still say three days to a week, but I think you’re probably going to need more time this year. And if you plan to stay, which is usually a bad decision, you need to prepare for a longer recovery response.

Recommended items to add emergency preparedness kits in light of COVID-19, include additional face covers, hand soap, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, sanitizing wipes and disposable gloves.

Preparing children for additional stress

Remember things that might help kids cope with stress and make a plan that will follow their normal schedule as much as possible, said Diane Bales, associate professor and extension specialist in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Child-specific tasks may include preparing clothes or toys.

“Preparing children helps reduce fear, anxiety and panic, which can all be very difficult,” she said. “We also want to build their confidence and skills, so they know what to do and feel confident that they can do it. We also hope to create a sense of proper control.

During a severe storm, use plain language to explain what is happening. Include why you are doing activities such as putting up windows or evacuating. Plus, reassure the kids that you or another trusted adult will be by their side, Bales said, as they rely on attachment figures like parents and other family members for comfort and stability.

“We are concerned about children, especially the long-term dangers of being subjected to this stress. Persistent hyperarousal, which means they’re always very alert, makes impulse control difficult and makes important higher-order thinking more difficult. Children who have been stressed for the long term may have more difficulty making decisions, reasoning in school, having relationships.

Why do children react differently to hurricanes and other emergencies? They find it hard to tell the difference between what they imagine and what is really going on.

“Young children especially have an inability to recognize danger. They also have limited experience in general and limited coping skills as they haven’t had the opportunity to develop them yet, ”Bales explained. “Children also take it in small pieces and may ask the same question over and over. Some children may not want to ask questions or talk about their feelings at all.

UGA Extension has many publications and resources on weather preparedness and recovery available at t.uga.edu/6dV. Timely weather information is also posted on Knox’s blog at site.extension.uga.edu/climate.


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