MOUNT VERNON — As part of Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week March 18-24, Knox County Emergency Management Agency will participate in the statewide tornado drill scheduled for 9:50 a.m. Wednesday.
During this time the county will sound the outdoor warning sirens and the state will test the Emergency Alert System. Schools, businesses, and households are encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans.
Knox EMA Director Mark Maxwell reminds residents that 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
Maxwell explained that the EMA has several important roles to fill.
It looks at what might happen, such as a tornado, flood, blizzard or toxic chemical spill and plans how to respond to help affected people. It organizes drills so those who respond know what is needed and what resources they can call on.
It educates the public about how to respond to different kinds of disasters and alerts the public through the media, the Knox Alerts system and social media.
It provides communication to local media to keep the public informed through a crisis.
In case of an actual event, EMA will activate its Emergency Operations Center, from which it can coordinate the responses of multiple agencies, and monitor communications and the weather. As First Responders react to immediate crises, he said, the operations center will see that response plans are implemented, such as arranging for emergency shelters, or distributing supplies of food and water.
In planning, said Maxwell, they try to anticipate what will be needed, looking four hours, eight hours or 24 hours ahead.
As reports on the disaster come in, the emergency center will call out specially trained search and rescue or HAZMAT teams that may not be available locally, generally coordinating emergency responses.
If you have never prepared for weather emergencies this is a great time to develop an emergency plan, make an emergency supply kit, and test your plan, Maxwell said. If you already have a kit, this is a good time to check expiration dates on food and medicines. It is also a good time to check the batteries in your flashlight and portable radio.
“We recommend that everyone have on hand enough emergency supplies of food and water to take care of themselves for three days,” Maxwell said.