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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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

FCEM&HS & The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety Host Annual Weather Spotter Training

National Weather Service to Teach How to Spot Tornadoes and Severe Spring Weather

(COLUMBUS, OHIO) – Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEM&HS) and The Ohio State University Department of Public Safety are co-sponsoring the annual Tornado and Severe Weather Spotter Seminar by the National Weather Service (NWS) beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at The Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus. The training and parking are free and open to the public. 

The seminar, led by meteorologists from the NWS office in Wilmington, Ohio, will provide specialized training to citizens, public safety officers and emergency management personnel on how to spot, report and prepare for tornadoes as well as other severe spring weather conditions in Franklin County.  Trainees will be provided with the basic tools needed to become a severe weather spotter and assist NWS forecasters with the information necessary to issue warnings and updates.   

Deadline to register for the seminar is close of business Friday, March 17, 2017. Residents interested in the training can register on the homepage of our website by clicking the link titled “Register for the 2017 Weather Spotter Training”.

“NWS relies on real-time observations from trained weather spotters on the ground to provide critical information that may not be available to forecasters during severe weather events,” said Jeffrey J. Young, Director, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security.  “Weather spotters play a vital part in helping keep our community safe.” 

“The safety of our campus community is our number one priority,” said Bob Armstrong, Director of Ohio State Emergency Management and Fire Prevention.  “The training provides a great opportunity for us to enhance campus preparedness and be ready to respond when severe weather strikes.” 

The four-hour training will cover the basics of thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning, flooding, damaging winds, storm structure and development as well as what visual clues to look for that may indicate when the weather is about to turn severe.

Driving directions to The Fawcett Center can be found at

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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