By Stacy Kess
The National Weather Service is calling for thunderstorms this weekend.
NWS-Wilmington said the exact timing for the storms is not yet known, but as of Friday, the best chance for severe storms begins tonight and continues through Sunday.
“Delaware County EMA continues to monitor the impending weekend thunderstorms that could produce high winds and heavy rain,” said Delaware County Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Sandy Mackey. “The storms will impact the state most likely Saturday evening through Sunday morning. We could see thunderstorms that produce high winds and heavy rain. Remember, weather patterns can change quickly.”
When storms approach, knowing where and how to shelter is important, Mackey said.
“When thunder roars, go indoors,” Mackey said. “If you hear thunder, seek shelter as lightning can strike from up to 10 miles away.”
Likewise, sheltering from possible tornadoes and high winds is just as important.
On June 13, 2013, another EF0 tornado with a wind speeds of 85 miles per hours struck near Radnor. On June 29, 2013, a fast moving severe storm called a Derecho clocked in wind speeds of 80 miles per hour.
“Know where to shelter,” said EMA director Sean Miller. “Know how to shelter and know where to go.”
The best place in a tornado is the lowest level of a home in the most interior room. Miller said it is important to put as many walls between those needing shelter and the outside. The space should also be as small as possible to reduce the amount of ceiling space that could collapse should the roof collapse.
Trailer homes are never safe, he said, even if tied down. Neither are upper levels of a building. He suggested creating a plan with neighbors in a safer spot in case of emergency.
According to the EMA, flooding is the most frequently occurring natural disaster in Ohio and the United States.
Miller said it is important that in situations where flooding is possible, motorists must be aware not to drive into flooded areas. He said the National Weather Service has a saying: “Turn around; don’t drown.”
“If motorists encounter flooding, don’t risk it,” he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 39 percent of U.S. flood-related fatalities in 2012 occurred while driving. Walking accounted for only 18 percent of flood-related fatalities. According to the EMA, two feet of water can float and carry most vehicles including SUVs.
Mackey said the use of social media is helping people be prepared for impending severe weather but she encouraged Delaware County residents to monitor sources such as the EMA, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and the National Weather Service as their main source for information.
“You need to pay attention to the weather,” Mackey said. “Warnings are wonderful and very effective but there’s nothing better than paying attention to the weather.”
The most ubiquitous warning system for severe weather and other emergencies is the Outdoor Warning Sirens. The sirens used to be called tornado sirens, but the sirens can be used for more than tornadoes depending on the jurisdiction. These sirens are meant as outdoor warning systems only, as they many not be audible inside some buildings and homes.
Miller said being prepared for an emergency also means watching for an emergency. That’s where radios, especially weather radios, come in handy. The “humble but useful” weather radio can be programmed on some newer models to give only severe alerts.
An AM/FM radio is also still useful, especially in knowing when weather is headed in a person’s direction, Miller said.
“Always be prepared and listen to your NOAA weather radio, as well as local radio and TV news channels for updates on impending weather conditions,” Mackey said.
Miller and Mackey said should severe weather cause power-outages or physical damage, preparedness is key.
Miller and the EMA recommend people make a supplies kit. He said when it comes to food, a 72-hour supply of non-perishable food should be kept in the house. He also recommended people learn to use their hot-water tank as a reserve water supply since it holds 40 gallons of water – plenty of water to get most families through 72 hours of an emergency; the recommended supply is one gallon of water per person per day.
“If your power goes out, use generators and candles with caution,” Mackey said. “Have extra batteries on hand for flashlights and radios. Keep a phone charger in your vehicle to charge cell phones and laptops if necessary.”
The EMA also warns that for those residents using generators to supplement power during a power outage, it is important to do so safely by always following the manufacturers directions and never using generators indoors.
Should electricity be affected by the storms, EMA said contact the service provider as quickly as possible.
The EMA developed videos available on Youtube.com to help Delaware County residents know how to prepare for emergencies and what to do in an emergency. Those videos, available at www.youtube.com/delcoema, include tips from how to turn the average 40-gallon hot water tank into a drinking water supply to where to shelter in a storm or tornado.
For more information on preparedness, visit www.delcoema.org. The Delaware County EMA Youtube channel is at www.youtube.com/delcoema.
Reporter Stacy Kess can be found on Twitter @StacyMKess.