Although the local Weather Spotter Training course was postponed during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the National Weather Service in Wilmington is offering its first live, online course this Monday.
The class is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. While the class is available to the general public, registration is required. Registration can be completed at www.register.gotowebinar.com/register/3764775498575311630.
The registration web-page explains, “During this webinar, a National Weather Service meteorologist will teach you how to properly identify and report significant weather events that have an impact on the safety of your community, such as damaging winds, hail, heavy rain and tornadoes.”
Ohio’s “Severe Weather Awareness and Preparedness Week” was March 22-28, according to the director of the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency, Melissa Havens.
“This is normally when we would’ve participated in the Statewide Tornado Drill and encouraged residents to practice their tornado drills at home. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the statewide drill was cancelled, and we chose to postpone ours locally,” explained Havens by email.
Havens encourages everyone, “don’t be scared, be prepared,” during the severe weather season.
“Most of us worry about the ‘what if’s.’ If we are prepared, we can relax and rest easy knowing that we are ready,” wrote Havens. “We know emergency response agencies and first responders are working around the clock to serve and protect us. However, when these severe weather events hit, they will be overloaded responding to the emergency calls. The rest of us that are healthy and safe but are left without power, or our roads are blocked from downed trees or powerlines so we can’t get out too — these are the types of things that can and will occur. In these situations, we need to be able to care for ourselves until help arrives.”
The amount of time it is suggested that everyone be able to take care of themselves is the initial 24-72 hours. This, according to Havens, would allow responders the time they need to take care of emergencies.
“Car wrecks, house fires, gas line ruptures — these are the things that also come along with severe weather. These are the emergencies that need addressed immediately. Our patience is appreciated, and if we prepare now, we can certainly patiently wait for them to get to us,” wrote Havens.
Ideas for residents to prepare for the season include having a kit of emergency supplies, an emergency response plan and a way to remain informed.
While the content of emergency kits will vary based on who they are for, some suggested items to consider adding are one gallon of water per person per day, nonperishable but healthy food, pet supplies, flashlight, extra batteries, manual can opener, a first aid kit, radio, filter masks, plastic sheeting, paper towels, wipes, strong tape, three days worth of clean clothes, jacket or coat, toilet paper, a bucket, garbage bags with ties, identification and insurance information, blankets, some cash and at least a three-day supply of medications.
The emergency response plan should cover different types of situations. One example of a situation that should be planned for is if family or household members were to be separated. It is suggested to have a meeting location and a back-up meeting location. It is also important to be certain that all members of the household and family know what the plans are, and several resources suggest having the plans written down. It is also suggested to have a contact person chosen for family members to contact.
There are different ways to stay informed such as a weather radio, the Nixle alert system, fresh batteries for a radio in case of power outages, local news channels, etc.
Nixle, as previously reported, is a method of communication where individuals can receive notifications from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office pertaining to emergency-related information in Fayette County. This includes road closures, unexpected school closings and delays, severe weather notifications, evacuation orders, etc. To sign up, go to www.local.nixle.com/register/ or text the appropriate zip-code to 888777 for mobile alerts.
Routine, monthly testing of the county’s tornado sirens will begin on Friday. The testing will continue through October with the tests occurring the final Fridays of each month at noon.
“On that note, I would just like to remind folks that the tornado sirens are an ‘Outdoor Warning System’ that is meant to warn residents nearby that are outdoors to go inside and take cover,” explained Havens.
Information in this article came from Melissa Havens and www.ready.gov/severe-weather. Another resource for understanding tornadoes and their occurrences in Ohio is www.weathersafety.ohio.gov/TornadoFacts.aspx.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.