RICHLAND COUNTY — Ohio’s Severe Weather Safety Week is March 17-23. This is a great opportunity for homes, schools, and businesses to brush up on their knowledge of spring severe weather threats, and to test their safety plans.
These mostly wet March days are a good time to prepare for severe spring weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. So, planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.
Here are some tips:
- Check the supplies in your emergency First Aid kit and update if needed.
- Prepare your home emergency kit and have one for your car.
- Have a three-day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food on hand.
- Show family members where to seek appropriate shelter.
- Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather.
- Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.
The Statewide Tornado Drill is planned for Wednesday, March 20 at 9:50 a.m. Test messages will broadcast and most counties will sound their outdoor warning sirens. Ohioans are encouraged to use this time to practice their tornado drills.
Though we are only in the third month of the year, 2019 has already presented Ohio with numerous hazardous weather events. Several winter storms and cold spells prompted Ohio communities to establish shelters and warming centers. More recently, there were the dangerous high winds that caused fallen trees and loss of power for several Richland County locations, including the Health Department.
A tornado in Alabama last weekend had claimed more than 20 lives and as of Tuesday, emergency responders were still searching for survivors from a half-mile wide storm.
A little tornado update
Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on Radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.
DURING A TORNADO
Stay Weather-Ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings.
At Your House: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
At Your Workplace or School: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe.
In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.
AFTER A TORNADO
Stay Informed: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings. Multiple rounds of thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are possible during severe weather outbreaks.
Contact Your Family and Loved Ones: Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Text messages or social media are more reliable forms of communication than phone calls.
Assess the Damage: After the threat for tornadoes has ended, check to see if your property has been damaged. When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Contact local authorities if you see power lines down. Stay out of damaged buildings. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.
Help Your Neighbor: If you come across people that are injured and you are properly trained, provide first aid to victims if needed until emergency responders arrive.