COLUMBUS, Ohio – This past year has illustrated that the public must remain vigilant and protect themselves from a host of potential incidents and hazards, including severe weather. Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, and Ohioans should be prepared.
“Everything we focus on here in Ohio is about safety and preparedness. It’s about getting vaccinated and slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s about keeping Ohioans healthy and saving lives now and in the future,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Whether a medical emergency or severe weather event, it’s imperative that Ohioans know how to respond during times of crisis.”
In a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, DeWine has proclaimed March 21-27 as Severe Weather Awareness Week and is encouraging all Ohioans to prepare themselves for spring and summer weather hazards and home emergencies.
“Severe weather is not going to put itself on hold because of COVID-19. Ohio’s temperatures often fluctuate between cold and warm during late winter or early spring, which is the perfect formula for tornadoes,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “Fortunately, we haven’t had any tornadoes this winter. But last January, two separate EF-0 tornadoes touched down in Miami County on the same day. Being a Midwestern state, we have to be ready. Severe Weather Awareness Week is the perfect time to not only restock your emergency supplies, but also review your emergency plans and practice your safety drills.”
At 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday, each local community will participate in a statewide tornado drill and test its Emergency Alert System. Ohio counties will sound and test their outdoor warning sirens. Businesses, schools and households are also encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans at this time.
What Can Ohioans Do during Severe Weather Awareness Week?
Prepare for Weather and Home Emergencies. Families, schools, and businesses should update or create their safety plans, practice tornado and fire drills, and determine where to go and what to do in the event of flooding, thunderstorms, tornadoes, or a fire. OSCSWA encourages Ohioans to integrate COVID-19 safety protocols into their plans and practice taking shelter while following social and physical distancing guidelines. Disposable face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes should be included in emergency supply kits.
Know Ohio’s Weather Hazards. Ohio’s weather hazards from early spring into summer include snowmelt and flooding, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. Visit the OCSWA website to view current Ohio weather and review severe weather safety and preparedness information.
Weather-Ready Tip: Never attempt to cross a flooded road on foot or in a vehicle. Manhole covers or the ground underneath could be washed away.
Know the Difference between Storm Watches and Warnings
A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and near areas designated by the National Weather Service. Be ready to move to a place of safety if the watch is upgraded to a warning or if threatening weather approaches.
A tornado warning means a tornado is imminent or has been sighted. Warnings indicate impending danger to life and property. Seek safe shelter immediately.
Weather-Ready Tip: Knowing a “safe place” is the most essential preparedness activity to save a life from severe weather. No matter where Ohioans are, they should know where to go if severe weather approaches.
During tornado drills or actual tornado warnings, remember to DUCK:
D – Go DOWN to the lowest level, stay away from windows
U – Get UNDER something (such as a basement staircase or heavy table or desk)
C – COVER the head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed
Many Ohio counties have outdoor warning sirens that sound when severe weather is imminent. During storm watches or warnings, listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio or local news for current weather conditions and information.
Cellphones may also alert to storm warnings. Wireless Emergency Alerts are free notifications delivered to mobile devices as part of a public safety system.