COLUMBUS — As part of a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA), Governor Mike DeWine has proclaimed March 17-23 as Severe Weather Awareness Week and encourages all Ohioans to learn what to do to protect themselves from spring and summer weather hazards, including home emergencies.
“Ohio’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared,” said Governor DeWine. “Ohio has already had two tornadoes this year, along with extremely cold weather, heavy snowstorms, and flooding that resulted in a state of emergency in nearly two dozen Ohio counties. Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is an ideal time to learn about severe weather preparedness and get ready.”
Governor DeWine proclaimed a state of emergency on Monday for the following 20 counties impacted by damaging flooding last month: Adams, Athens, Brown, Gallia, Guernsey, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington. The emergency proclamation authorizes various state departments and agencies to coordinate state and federal response and to assist local government in protecting the lives and property of Ohio residents.
“As we have seen this winter, severe weather, such as tornadoes and flooding, doesn’t keep a calendar. We need to know of all the weather hazards that can impact our state and how to prepare and protect ourselves,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “Every minute counts in a disaster, so we encourage you to plan now so you’re prepared. Make emergency plans for the different hazards that can impact your household. Practice tornado and fire drills. Make emergency supply kits for your home or for your car, in case you need to evacuate. Additionally, consider purchasing flood insurance.”
During the weather safety campaign, the state of Ohio will participate in a statewide tornado drill and test its Emergency Alert System on Wednesday, March 20 at 9:50 a.m. During this time, Ohio counties will sound and test their outdoor warning sirens. Schools, businesses and households are encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans.
What Can Ohioans Do During Severe Weather Awareness Week?
Prepare for Weather and Home Emergencies. Homes, schools and businesses should update their safety/ communications plans. Practice tornado and fire drills. Replenish supplies in emergency kits. Be informed – Know the risks about the different disasters and hazards that can affect families where they live, work and go to school. Include children in emergency planning.
Know Ohio’s Weather Hazards. Ohio’s spring and summer weather hazards include tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, and even snowstorms through early spring. Visit the OCSWA website: weathersafety.ohio.gov to view current Ohio weather and to review severe weather safety and preparedness information.
Know the Difference between Storm Watches and Warnings. Ensure that everyone knows the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is imminent or occurring. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, do not stop to take photos or shoot video. Seek safe shelter immediately.
OCSWA Spring & Summer Weather Terms
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 your head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed
Many Ohio counties have outdoor warning sirens that sound during severe storm and tornado warnings. During storm watches or warnings, listen to your NOAA Weather Radio or your local news for current weather conditions and information.
People also receive notification of severe weather and other emergencies through their cellphones and mobile devices. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency texts sent by authorized government alerting authorities. WEAs can notify you of storm warnings, local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential Alerts.