published Monday, February 4th, 2013

Inside Insurance: Let’s Not Be Complacent Out There

David Colmans

I never cease to be amazed by how bad weather always seems to appear unexpectedly for so many of us.

The calendar noted the end of January, but that’s not important to Mother Nature. Just when you think it is safe to take it easy, a tornado blasts its way through North Georgia and leaves a $75 million path of destruction through the Calhoun area.

When severe weather is indicated awareness is vital. Second, we must take preventive measures as opposed to “Well, let’s just see what happens.” From major hurricanes to severe thunderstorm warnings, the same outcome recurs.

News media reports over and over something like this. “The family was asleep when the tornado hit.” There were no radios or TVs on so the family missed the warnings.” There was a hurricane party underway and the apartment residents where not aware of the eminent danger.”

This is where the rubber meets the road. In the middle of the night when no radios or TVs are on, how is one to know what’s about to happen even if broadcast warnings are issued? Tornado sirens are not always available.

The one thing that is widely available is the emergency weather radio with alerts from the National Weather Service. All the great radars the TV and radio stations have provide no help when we are not watching or listening.

While insurers, weather forecasters and broadcast outlets attempt to communicate with the public about the importance of preparedness, there seems to always be at least some who died or was seriously injured because of a lack of awareness.

The precautions are every bit as important as the actions one takes after the incident occurs. Consider the potential deadly results when severe weather strikes. Likely the power may be out before your home is in harm’s way. The TV is out, plugged in radios are useless and the only protection one has is a battery-powered AM/FM radio or a weather alert radio short of a back-up generator that automatically starts when the power fails.

Emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels always preach about the importance of preparedness. Too often, these warnings go to “I’ll get to it soon.”

More and better ways of communications help as well. Emergency weather apps for smart phones, tablets and computers are only good if the equipment is on. That gets us back to awareness.

The importance of preparedness cannot be overstated, but a lack of preparedness can be fatal. Contact your local emergency management agency or emergency responders about where you can get more information. Check out http://www.giis.org, http://www.floodsmart.gov, http://www.gema.ga.gov or your local emergency management agency for helpful information on preparedness, evacuation and after the disaster information.

Do it while it is fresh in your mind. Be organized, prepared and rehearsed. That will help you and your family to know what to do when severe weather or other calamites occur.

David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or by email at dcolmans@giis.org.

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