Healthy people, families, and communities.


(ATLANTA) - Georgians have experienced their share of severe weather in recent yearts, with storms causing substantial damage, injury and even death. Statistics reveal weather-related events have killed at least 352 people in Georgia, including two in 2012, and injured countless others.

To encourage Georgians to better prepare for these types of disaster, Governor Nathan Deal has proclaimed the week of Feb. 4-8 as Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Throughout the week, Georgians are encouraged to set aside a few minutes each day to get ready for unexpected events, practice emergency response procedures for all types of severe weather and learn more about threats.

“In recent years, Georgia has experienced record flooding, tornadoes and wildfires,” said Charley English, director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA). “Urbanization and population growth increase the potential for these storms to impact more people and structures, so I encourage our citizens to become more aware of severe weather safety measures and to participate in the various awareness programs during Severe Weather Awareness Week.”

As part of the observation, GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign is urging people statewide to take some simple steps toward preparedness each day.

  • Monday, Feb. 4: Family Preparedness Day - Identify a family reconnection place and purchase a life-saving NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5: Thunderstorm SafetyCheck your patio or yard to make sure there is nothing that could blow away during a storm; remove dead or rotting branches from your trees to prevent storm damage.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6: Tornado Safety and Statewide Tornado Drill (issued by NWS) – Identify a safe place in your home where you could take shelter during a tornado.
  • Thursday, Feb. 7: Lightning Safety – Learn the 30/30 rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Friday, Feb. 8 – Flood Safety (alternate drill date) – Make copies of important documents, seal them in a watertight container/bag and add them to your Ready kit.

Rabies VirusRabies VirusJasper (GA) — Jan Stephens of Pickens County Environmental Health recently announced that a local dog had to be euthanized after fighting with a rabies infected raccoon.

“When the raccoon wandered into the carport of a home in the Hobson Creek area on January 21, the homeowner’s dog fought with it and ran the raccoon up a tree,” said Stephens. “The owner then shot the raccoon and called our office the next day.”

The raccoon was sent to the Georgia Department of Public Health Laboratory for rabies testing, and the positive result was reported on January 23.

The dog was not vaccinated against rabies and it had puncture wounds on its neck as a result of the incident; therefore, the difficult decision to have the dog “put to sleep” was made on January 30.

No human exposure to this raccoon was reported.

Health officials urge the public to consult with their veterinarian to confirm that their pets are current on their rabies vaccinations.

For more information about rabies, please contact Pickens County Environmental Health at (706) 253-0900 or log onto

Ellijay (GA) A 7-year old male Boxer in Ellijay fought and killed a raccoon that has since tested positive for rabies. Because the dog was not current on its rabies vaccination, it is now undergoing a six-month strict quarantine.


There was no human exposure.


Gilmer County Environmental Manager Andrea Martin reported that the fight between the dog and the raccoon occurred on January 16, 2013 at a residence on Raspberry Court off Highway 382 in Ellijay.


The raccoon was tested for rabies at the Georgia Department of Public Health Laboratory on January 17, and the positive rabies result was reported on January 18.


Health officials urge residents to maintain current rabies vaccinations in their pets, not only for the sake of the pet, but to also protect themselves and their family from rabies.


Rabies that goes untreated is fatal almost 100 percent of the time.


For more information about rabies, please contact Gilmer County Environmental Health at (706) 635-6050 or log onto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at

Dalton (GA) – The Whitfield County Health Department was awarded the 2013 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Office of Injury Prevention. Through the Mini-Grant, the Whitfield County Health Department and the Safe Kids Dalton Coalition work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families in Whitfield County. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Maternal and Child Health Program fund this grant to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles.

And it works! Since 2007, at least 229 children in Georgia who were involved in crashes were saved from serious injury or death by car seats, booster seats, and education provided through the Mini-Grant. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.

“It’s our responsibility to keep our children safe,” said Gayle Brannon, manager of the Whitfield County Health Department. “The Car Seat Mini-Grant is a great opportunity to help our community and help protect our kids from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes.”