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Warning System Events
The Outdoor Warning Siren Systems Test will occur every Wednesday at noon
Point of Contact

Steven E. Smith
Warning Systems Program Manager

What's New

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ohio’s Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week Held March 19 – 25, 2017

Statewide Tornado Drill held March 22nd at 9:50 a.m.

(COLUMBUS, OHIO) – To raise awareness of the hazardous side of spring weather, Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEM&HS) will recognize Ohio’s Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week and Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 19 – 25, 2017.  Residents are reminded to prepare for severe weather before it happens.  Hazardous conditions can occur anytime and anywhere without advance notice.

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, FCEM&HS urges the community to participate in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 9:50 a.m. At that time, the Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System will be activated one time for three minutes – a longer tone than in the regular Wednesday noon tests. The test tone will be the same “tornado warning” tone which would be used in an actual tornado warning. 

“As the severe weather season approaches, we encourage everyone to take some time during Severe Weather Awareness Week to make a safety plan for family, friends, neighbors and co-workers,” said Jeffrey J. Young, Director, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security. “Being prepared and knowing what to do during an emergency is vital.”

FCEM&HS encourages residents to be prepared for all types of severe weather by following these important safety procedures:

Know the Risk – Learn and understand the different types of weather hazards facing Franklin County.  The top hazards can be found on the agency website at

Know the Weather Terms – Know the difference between storm watches and storm warnings. For example, a tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the area. A tornado warning is issued by the NWS when a tornado has been detected by radar or sighted by storm spotters.

Receive Notifications - Register for ALERT Franklin County at to receive severe weather alerts and important information.  Residents are encouraged to have a NOAA Weather Radio and tune into TV or radio newscasts for up-to-date weather information.

Have a Plan/Build a Kit - Develop and practice an emergency plan with your family and include your pets. Know how to communicate and have a designated safe meeting place.  Build an emergency supply kit.  Include enough food, water other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. 

According to the 2016 Franklin County Risk Assessment, tornadoes and flooding are among the top five risks facing Franklin County.  FCEM&HS offers the following information and safety tips for these top hazards:


Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms. They are usually preceded by very heavy rain and/or large hail. A thunderstorm accompanied by hail indicates that the storm has large amounts of energy and may be severe. In general, the larger the hailstones, the more potential there is for damaging winds and/or tornadoes.

Tornado Safety Tips:

Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
Be alert to changing weather conditions. If you see approaching storms or hear a load roar, similar to a freight train be prepared to take shelter immediately
Listen. Outdoor warning sirens across Franklin County will sound loudly when a tornado warning is issued for the county.
Go at once to the basement, storm cellar or lowest level of the building. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
If that is impossible, get away from windows and to the center of the room. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench, heavy table or desk, and hold on to it. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
If you are outside in a car or in a mobile home, get out and find shelter in the lowest level of a nearby sturdy building. If there is none, lie flat in a low spot, using your arms to protect your head. Do not go under highway bridges.


Flooding is the accumulation of too much water in too little time can be deceivingly dangerous, especially to drivers. Cars can become buoyant in only two feet of water, and the force of six inches of swiftly moving water can knock an adult person off his or her feet. 

Flood Safety Tips: 

Understand flood terms such as flood watch, flood warning, and flash flood warning. Get more information at 
Plan multiple evacuation routes.
Avoid flood prone areas, and never let children play close to creeks or storm drains. 
Get to higher ground immediately, by foot if necessary. 
Never drive into flooded areas. Remember “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”
Stay tuned to local television and radio and NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio for local flood warnings and instructions on precautionary/protective actions. 
Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. 
Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink. 
Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible – damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards. 
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.  

FCEM&HS, a government agency serving 42 local jurisdictions in Franklin County, coordinates countywide emergency and disaster planning, education, warning, response and recovery.


Tornado Safety

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent windstorms – even weak ones can cause significant damage and fatalities. Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security activates the Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for Franklin County. If your area is under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!


Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security would like to offer the following safety preparedness information about tornadoes to help keep you and your family safe.

Location: Actions:


  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put on sturdy shoes.
  • Do not open windows.

   Trailer/Mobile Home

  • Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.


  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.


About The FCEM&HS Warning Program

The FCEM&HS Warning Program coordinates the Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System.  This system consists of 195 outdoor warning sirens which reach hundreds of thousands of citizens in an emergency within seconds of activation. When activated, the outdoor warning sirens alert residents with tones or a spoken message which can be transmitted for other types of emergencies if needed. The Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System is one of the largest in Ohio and the United States.

The Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System can be activated at three different activation points throughout the county.  FCEM&HS serves as the primary activation point and activates the outdoor warning sirens when a Tornado Warning is issued for Franklin County by the National Weather Service (NWS).  Once activated the outdoor warning sirens will sound with a tone for 3 minutes followed by 7 minutes of silence, this sequence will continue until the warning in canceled. The siren system does not deliver an all clear signal once the warning has expired. The primary function of the siren system is to warn residents who are outside to seek shelter and monitor local media outlets or a NOAA weather radio for rapid weather changes.

Beyond notification, the FCEM&HS Warning Program is charged with testing, scheduling siren maintenance, upgrading of antiquated parts, complying with FCC mandates, policy planning for addition of sirens within the network and ensuring the siren network operates effectively.

Other components of the FCEM&HS Warning Program include the Siren Watch Program, ClearChannel Outdoor Electronic Billboards, Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), NOAA Weather Alert Radios, FCEM&HS Community Emergency Notification, and various Smartphone Emergency Notification Systems. 

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