(ATLANTA) – The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) is holding a statewide PrepareAthon! tornado drill Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 9 a.m. This event coincides with Severe Weather Preparedness Week to encourage Georgians to prepare now for any type of severe weather.

“Severe weather can occur at any time,” said Chris Stallings, Director of GEMA/HS. “It’s important for Georgians to practice what to do in the event of a tornado so they can respond appropriately and limit damage to life and property.”

GEMA/HS urges Georgians to participate, as the peak of tornado activity typically occurs in the spring months. To prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes. Ready Georgia shares the following tips:

Before a drill

  • Make a “Ready Kit” for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terminology used to identify a tornado hazard.
    • A tornado watch means weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop.
    • A tornado warning means either a tornado is occurring, or expected to develop shortly in your area and you need to take shelter immediately.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter during the tornado drill.
  • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
  • If underground shelter is not available, an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible is the best option.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

During a drill

  • Announce the start of the tornado drill and inform participants that they should act as though a tornado warning has been issued.
  • Evacuate participants just as you would if you were taking shelter during a tornado warning. Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
  • Once participants reach the designated safe area, they should crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and covering their heads with their hands.
  • Once everyone has been evacuated and taken cover, announce that the drill is over.

After a drill

  • Review the drill to identify any necessary changes or improvements to your tornado safety procedures. For example:
    • Do more safe areas need to be identified?
    • Do the designated safe areas need to have clutter removed or need to be cleaned out to be more accessible?
  • Does everyone know the fastest routes to take shelter in the safe areas?
  • Is there a better method for letting everyone know of an approaching tornado needed?

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or visit Ready Georgia or www.gema.ga.gov.


As part of the Office of the Governor, GEMA/HS works with local, state and federal governments, in partnership with the private sector and faith-based community, to protect life and property against man-made and natural emergencies. In addition, GEMA/HS employees are on 24-hour call statewide to assist local authorities when disaster strikes. GEMA/HS’s “Ready Georgia” campaign helps Georgians prepare for disasters. Visit www.gema.ga.gov  for more information.