Ohio Severe Weather Safety Week is March 17-23
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.
- 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 will take place on 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.
For more about severe spring weather, see the weather tips at richlandhealth.org: https://www.richlandhealth.org/personal-health/weather-safety-tips
Richland Public Health is proud to be a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador.
Here are some Severe Spring Weather Safety Tips
- Flood Advisory: Be Aware: A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.
- Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible
- Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.
- Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
During a Flood
During a flood, water levels and the rate the water is flowing can quickly change. Remain aware and monitor local radio and television outlets. Avoid flood waters at all costs and evacuate immediately when water starts to rise. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
- Stay Informed: Monitor local radio and television (including NOAA Weather Radio), internet and social media for information and updates.
- Get to Higher Ground: Get out of areas subject to flooding and get to higher ground immediately
- Obey Evacuation Orders: If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Be sure to lock your home as you leave. If you have time, disconnect utilities and appliances.
- Practice Electrical Safety: Don’t go into a basement, or any room, if water covers the electrical outlets or if cords are submerged. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises –get out! Stay out of water that may have electricity in it!
- Avoid Flood waters: Do not walk through flood waters. It only takes six inches of moving water to knock you off your feet. If you are trapped by moving water, move to the highest possible point and call 911 for help.
- Do Not Drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade: Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Water may be deeper than it appears and can hide many hazards (i.e. sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc). A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in a matter of seconds. Twelve inches of water can float a car or small SUV and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Be Prepared! Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Take Action! Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a large hail or damaging wind identified by an NWS forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.
Before severe weather strikes, preparation is key to staying safe
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you’re at risk for severe weather. Listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
- Sign Up for Notifications: Know how your community sends warning. Some communities have outdoor sirens. Others depend on media and smart phones to alert residents to severe storms.
- Create a Communications Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. Pick a safe room in your home such as a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Get more ideas for a plan at: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
- Practice Your Plan: Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a damaging wind or large hail is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when severe thunderstorm warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
- Prepare Your Home : Keep trees and branches trimmed near your house. If you have time before severe weather hits, secure loose objects, close windows and doors, and move any valuable objects inside or under a sturdy structure.
- Help Your Neighbor: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for severe thunderstorms. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt during severe weather.
What to Do During Severe Weather
Find out what you can do when severe weather strikes. Acting quickly is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.
- Stay Weather Ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
- At Your House: Go to your secure location if you hear a severe thunderstorm warning. Damaging wind or large hail may be approaching. Take your pets with you if time allows.
- At Your Workplace or School: Stay away from windows if you are in a severe thunderstorm warning and damaging wind or large hail is approaching. Do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums or auditoriums.
- Outside: Go inside a sturdy building immediately if severe thunderstorms are approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly. The tree may fall on you. Standing under a tree also put you at a greater risk of getting struck by lightning.
- In a Vehicle: Being in a vehicle during severe thunderstorms is safer than being outside; however, drive to closest secure shelter if there is sufficient time.
There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember, When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.
If you absolutely cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck with the following tips:
- Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
- Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
- If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.
- If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
- Stay away from water, wet items, such as ropes, and metal objects, such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.
A safe shelter is a building with electricity and/or plumbing or a metal-topped vehicle with windows closed. Picnic shelters, dugouts, small buildings without plumbing or electricity are not safe. Below are some key safety tips for you, your pets and your home.
- Stay off corded phones. You can use cellular or cordless phones.
- Don’t touch electrical equipment such as computers, TVs, or cords. You can remote controls safety.
- Avoid plumbing. Do not wash your hands, take a shower or wash dishes.
- Stay away from windows and doors that might have small leaks around the sides to let in lightning, and stay off porches.
- Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls.
- Protect your pets: Dog houses are not safe shelters. Dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.
- Protect your property: Lightning generates electric surges that can damage electronic equipment some distance from the actual strike. Typical surge protectors will not protect equipment from a lightning strike.
Lightning Safety on the Job: Know what objects and equipment to avoid during a thunderstorm.
- Stay off and away from anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles and ladders.
- Stay off and away from large equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, track loaders and tractors.
- Do not touch materials or surfaces that can conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes and plumbing.
- Leave areas with explosives or munitions.
- 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.