Emergency Management Agency
Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. There are three basic groups of biological agents that could likely be used as weapons: bacteria, viruses and toxins. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, person-to-person contact, infecting animals that carry the disease to humans and by contaminating food and water. A biological attack may or may not be immediately obvious. In most cases local health care workers will report a pattern of unusual illness or there will be a wave of sick people seeking emergency medical attention. The public would be alerted through an emergency radio or TV broadcast, or some other signal used in your community, such as a telephone call or a home visit from an emergency response worker.
Chemical agents are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic effects on people, animals or plants. While potentially lethal, chemical agents are difficult to deliver in lethal concentrations because they dissipate rapidly outdoors and are difficult to produce. A chemical attack could come without warning. Signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing, eye irritation, loss of coordination, nausea, or burning in the nose, throat and lungs. The presence of many dead insects or birds may indicate a chemical agent release.
Cybersecurity involves preventing, detecting, and responding to cyber incidents that can have wide ranging effects on the individual, organizations, the community and at the national level. You can increase your chances of avoiding cyber risks by setting up the proper controls. The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your property before a cyber incident occurs.
An earthquake is the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth, caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock as it releases strain that has accumulated over a long time. Initial mild shaking may strengthen and become extremely violent within seconds. Additional earthquakes, called aftershocks, may follow the initial earthquake. Most are smaller than the initial earthquake but larger magnitude aftershocks also occur. Earthquakes may cause household items to become dangerous projectiles; cause buildings to move off foundations or collapse, damage utilities, roads and structures such as bridges and dams, or cause fires and explosions. They may also trigger landslides, avalanches, and tsunamis. Earthquakes can happen at any time of the year and occur without warning, although they usually last less than one minute. Aftershocks following the initial earthquake may occur for hours, days, or even months.
Floods can be slow or fast rising, but generally develop over a period of days. Many communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms. Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water, or downstream from a dam. Georgia has more than 4,600 dams, the majority of which are privately owned. Dam failures can occur with little warning. When a dam fails, the damage can be catastrophic.
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. These large storms are called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world. Each year, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. Affected areas include all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas and areas over 100 miles inland, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific. A significant per cent of fatalities occur outside of landfall counties with causes due to inland flooding. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
The term “space weather” refers to the variable conditions on the sun and in space that can influence the performance of technology we use on Earth. Extreme space weather could potentially cause damage to critical infrastructure – especially the electric grid – highlighting the importance of being prepared. The sun is the main source of space weather. Sudden bursts of plasma and magnetic field structures from the sun’s atmosphere called coronal mass ejections (CME) together with sudden bursts of radiation, or solar flares, all cause space weather effects here on Earth. Space weather can produce electromagnetic fields that induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines, and even causing wide-spread blackouts. Severe space weather also produces solar energetic particles, which can damage satellites used for commercial communications, global positioning, intelligence gathering, and weather forecasting.
Thunderstorms and Lightning
All thunderstorms are dangerous because they can produce strong winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail and flash flooding. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Georgia’s greatest threats from severe thunderstorms are damaging straight-line winds and large hail. Straight-line winds can reach speeds in excess of 58 mph and produce damage similar to a tornado. These winds occur about 75 days per year in Georgia and are most common in the spring and summer months, peaking in July. Since 2000, lightning has been the #2 weather-related killer in Georgia, behind tornadoes. Lightning on average kills one to two people in Georgia each year, and injures an average of 12 people. Protect yourself and your family by being prepared today.
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms and they are Georgia’s No. 1 weather-related killer. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground and is often—although not always—visible as a funnel cloud. Lightening and hail are common in thunderstorms that produce tornadoes. Tornadoes cause extensive damage to structures and disrupt transportation, power, water, gas, communications, and other services in its direct path and in neighboring areas. Related thunderstorms can cause heavy rains, flash flooding, and hail. They can develop without warning and oftentimes can be hidden by trees or rain. Be prepared to act quickly. Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter of survival. Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.
Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture. For more information, download the How to Prepare for a Wildfire guide, which provides the basics of wildfires, explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger. A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted fire burning in a natural area, such as a forest, grassland, or prairie. As building development expands into these areas, homes and businesses may be situated in or near areas susceptible to wildfires. This is called the wildland urban interface.