With storms forecasted for the rest of the week, the Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management suggested Tuesday that county residents make preparations for severe weather.
EMA Director Sean Miller said the office is monitoring information provided by the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, which is forecasting the county will experience showers for the rest of the week with thunderstorms expected today and Thursday.
“We would urge the public to remain aware that the weather can change rapidly,” Miller said. “With many outdoor activities this time of year, it is always a good idea to check the forecast prior to heading outside. A good phrase to remember is ‘when thunder roars, go indoors.’ A hardtop automobile or house/office/school are safe places to be when lightning is present. Convertibles and picnic shelters are not safe during lightning. Outdoor activities can resume 30 minutes after the storm has passed.”
Miller added that lightning does not necessarily mean a storm is severe.
In case of severe weather, Miller said to ensure that 72 hours of nonperishable food, water, and medication is on hand for general preparedness, and he advised residents to know where they can seek shelter in case of severe storms.
“The best places to shelter during a severe storm/tornado is in a basement or designated, reinforced storm shelter,” Miller said. “Absent (a basement or storm shelter), shelter should be sought on the lowest level of a sturdy structure. As with all sheltering, windows should be avoided. The shelter area should be centrally located in the building and relatively small, such as a hallway, bathroom or closet. The idea is to put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible.”
Miller added that mobile homes, even if tied down, are not safe shelter locations, and highway underpasses are also not safe shelter locations.
Miller said residents should also know the difference between a watch, which means that conditions are favorable for a type of weather to occur, such as a tornado or severe thunderstorm, and a warning, which means that a type of weather is already happening or definitely about to occur, such as a tornado or severe thunderstorm.
“If a tornado warning is issued for a resident’s area, it means to take shelter immediately,” he said.
Notifications are also an important part of being prepared, Miller said, adding there are sirens throughout the county designed to alert individuals who are outdoors to seek shelter. He added some residents may not hear the sirens when indoors, so seeking information from a trusted source is important.
For more detailed information, Miller said residents can sign up for the DELCO alerts system by going to https://emergencycomms.co.delaware.oh.us/delco-alerts/. The alerts are address based, he added.
Miller also suggested visiting https://www.ready.gov/alerts to sign up for Wireless Emergency Alerts, which is geographically targeted to a cell phone’s location and can be used by the National Weather Service for tornado and other warnings. He said FEMA and the American Red Cross have applications for cell phones.
Additionally, Miller suggested having multiple means of receiving warnings, including a system capable of waking someone in the household during the night.
The EMA plans to conduct its monthly audible siren test today, provided no severe weather is present.