What can we help you find?
< All Topics

7.03.12 Johnstown – Severe Weather and Emergency Response


There are two types of tornado alert conditions:

  • Tornado Watch:  Conditions are right for strong thunderstorms, hail, high winds, and tornadoes.  Be prepared to take shelter and keep informed of the latest storm conditions.
  • Tornado Warning:  A tornado warning is issued when a funnel cloud or tornado has been sighted. In Franklin County, sirens will sound when a tornado warning is issued.  The siren is a steady 3-minute loud wailing tone, followed by a voice message in all directions for 2 minutes, then the cycle is repeated until the warning is over. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY.

If the condition is a Tornado Watch:

  1. During regular office hours 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, the receptionist will alert all staff in the home. In the evening or on weekends, the staff member carrying the scheduling phone will alert anyone in the building.
  2. Keep radios and televisions turned on and watch for broadcasts by the National Weather Service regarding tornado watches, warnings, and “All Clear” announcements.
  3. Staff should ensure that occupants gather in the home or be aware of their whereabouts while outdoors in the yard. Some individuals can leave the home/yard if they are accompanied by a responsible person, i.e., a special friend, a volunteer, or an individual going to work.
  4. Windows should be shut and sills should be free of items.
  5. Staff shall apply good judgment and common sense in allowing any individuals outside during the watch. Do not agitate any individual(s) who refuse to come inside.
  6. When an “All Clear” weather broadcast is issued, the receptionist or scheduler on-call will notify staff and individuals to return to normal operation.

If the condition is a Tornado Warning:

  1. During regular office hours 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, the secretary/receptionist will alert all staff in the home. In the evening or on weekends, the staff member carrying the Nursing Phone will alert the home of the condition.
    NOTE: Tornado Warning Sirens are sounded in Franklin County to alert the community of a Tornado Warning. The siren is a steady 3-minute loud wailing tone, followed by a voice message in all directions for 2 minutes, then the cycle is repeated until the warning is over. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY.
  2. All doors, (including fire doors which need to be closed manually), and blinds should be closed. All hallways and windowsills should be cleared.
  3. Staff should take a flashlight and weather radio with them.
  4. Employees and staff should go to the nearest designated Tornado Safe Zone within the home.
  5. When an “All Clear” weather broadcast is issued, the maintenance staff (during regular office hours 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday) or nurse(s) on duty in the evening or on weekends, will notify all staff and individuals to return to normal operation.

On the road:

  1. The least desirable place to be during a tornado is in a motor vehicle. Cars, buses, and trucks are easily tossed by tornado winds.
    • If while driving, you hear a tornado warning in the area you are in, safely stop the car/van and seek a safe shelter, if possible in a sturdy building.
    • If no safe building is available, stop your vehicle and get out. Do not get under your vehicle. Follow the directions for seeking shelter outdoors (see next section).

Seeking Shelter from a Tornado Outdoors:

If you are caught outside during a tornado and there is no adequate shelter immediately available and the condition is a Tornado Warning:

  1. Avoid areas with many trees.
  2. Avoid protection under bridges.
  3. Lie face down in a gully, ditch, or low spot on the ground.
  4. Protect your head with an object or with your arms.
  5. Stay clear of power lines.

If you are at the individual’s workshop, follow the workshop’s instructions.  Stay away from large areas of glass and rooms with large ceilings.

Winter Storms

WINTER STORM WATCH alerts the public to the potential for blizzard conditions, heavy snow, significant icing, or a combination of these events. Watches are usually issued 12 to 36 hours before the beginning of the winter storm. When a winter storm watch is issued:

  1. Listen to the weather radio, local radio, TV stations, or Cable TV such as the Weather Channel for further updates.
  2. Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  3. Avoid unnecessary travel.

WINTER STORM WARNING is issued when a combination of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is expected to occur. Winter storm warnings are usually issued 6 to 24 hours before the event is expected. When a winter storm warning is issued:

  1. Stay indoors during the storm.
  2. If staff and individuals must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves or mittens and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.
  3. Do not travel in vehicles.

BLIZZARD WARNING is issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 m.p.h. or more and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities below ¼ mile. These conditions should persist for at least three hours. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.


  1. Keep radios and televisions turned on and watch for broadcasts by the National Weather Service regarding winter storms and tornado watches, warnings, and “All Clear” announcements.
  2. Ensure that extra blankets, slippers, and umbrellas are available and ready to use for last-minute emergencies.
  3. Ensure that each individual has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots.
  4. If the furnace is not working properly staff are to notify the Maintenance Staff On-Call and the Incident Hotline immediately.
    • If the interior temperature drops below 55 degrees F, the Maintenance Staff On-call is to notify the Executive Director immediately.
    • The Executive Director/designee will contact the Ohio Department of Health Office of Licensing at 614-466-7857 or your regional office at Western at 419-245-2840 or Eastern at 330-643-1300.
    • Arrangements will be made to relocate the individuals as necessary
  5. Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks.
  6. If you are in a vehicle make sure that the gas tank is full and someone knows your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. All Open Door vehicles have winter emergency kits, (i.e. a blanket, red flag, etc). If you should get stuck in a winter storm while you are in the vehicle:
    • Stay in your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
    • Use the cell phone to call for help.
    • Tie the red flag to the antenna for rescuers to see.
    • Start the vehicle and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle.
    • Leave the overhead light on while the engine running so that you can be seen.

Floods and Flash Floods

Flood – The condition that occurs when water overflows the natural or artificial confines of a stream or body of water, or accumulates by drainage over low-lying areas.

  1. A flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.
  2. A flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Flash Flood – A flood that rises and falls quite rapidly. Flash floods occur as the result of intense rainfall over a relatively small area in a short period of time.

  1. A flash flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.
  2. A flash flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur very soon.

During a Flood or Flash Flood Warning:

  1. If indoors, turn on the battery-operated weather radio to get the latest emergency information and if told to leave, do so immediately. If the facility needs to evacuate, policy 7.15.01 Whole Facility Evacuation and/or policy 7.15.01 Emergency Preparedness Plan will be followed.
  2. If outdoors, climb to high ground and stay there; avoid walking through any flood waters.
  3. If in a car and you approach a flooded area, turn around and go the other way. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.
  4. If storm drainage water is seeping under the home’s doors, place towels at the bottom of the door and notify the maintenance personnel on-call.
  5. If water is appearing in the home’s basement, notify the maintenance personnel on-call.
  6. Maintain the weather radio.
  7. Encourage individuals to stay indoors.
  8. Carefully evaluate travel plans.

Extreme Heat

  • Heat Wave: Prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity.
  • Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.
  • Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke.
  • Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result is the body is not cooled quickly.
  • Sunstroke: Another term for heat stroke.

If a heat wave is predicted or happening:

  1. Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 am and 7:00 am.
  2. Stay indoors as much as possible.
  3. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  4. Drink plenty of water regularly and often.
  5. Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty.
  6. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
  7. Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid food that is high in protein, which increases the metabolic heat.

Signal of Heat Emergencies

  • Heat exhaustion: Cool moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea and vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
  • Heat Stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness, rapid weak pulse, and rapid shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high – as high as 105 degrees F. If the person is sweating from heavy work or exercise skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.

Hot Weather Precautions for Individuals:

To provide a safe environment for individuals during the summer months, the following protocol will be followed:

It is recommended that apartment thermostats be set between 74°-76° F during the air conditioning season.  Extreme heat is identified as temperatures anywhere in the home exceeding 81°.  Home temperatures exceeding 81° require that staff.:

  • Contact the Maintenance Department which will initiate air conditioning repairs.
  • Install fans to increase air movement in the apartment.
  • Provide individuals with extra fluids.
  • Contact the nurse regarding adverse individual reactions.
  • Monitor and document adverse individual reactions.

Prolonged heat (more than two hours) may require:

  • Transfer of individuals to another home and/or CAC area.
  • Transfer to the nearest hospital for individuals who require treatment because of the adverse effects of extreme heat.
  • Individual conditions that are likely to be activated and/or heightened because of extreme heat are referred to in the individual’s IPP.  Staff members are required to be familiar with the needs of the individuals in their care.
  • In the event that the home would have to be evacuated, policy 7.15.01 Whole Facility Evacuation Plan and/or 7.16.01 Emergency Preparedness Plan will be followed.

Sun Protection/Extreme Heat:

  • Many individuals are either on medication that increases their sensitivity to sunburn or are sensitive to sunburn because of their complexion.  Therefore, all individuals should be assisted with the use of sunscreen whenever they are outside for more than a few minutes.  Sun block with a rating of SPF 30 is recommended.
  • During the hot summer months, extra water and juices will be provided for all individuals.
  • Staff should monitor for symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

 Attending Workshops:

  • The Transportation Coordinator/designee will check temperature and humidity conditions each “workshop day”.
  • Individuals not transported in air-conditioned vehicles will be encouraged to remain home with a predicted heat index of 88° (95° and 5% humidity, 90° and 25% humidity, 80° and 90% humidity).  Open Door will make arrangements to transport those who refuse to stay home by utilizing the company’s air-conditioned vehicles.
  •  At a predicted heat index of 98° (95° & 35% humidity and 90° & 55% humidity), individuals will not be permitted to ride county buses to workshops.  If individuals demand to attend the day program, Open Door will make every attempt to transport them to and from the program.
  • If the temperature is greater than 95°, no one will be permitted to attend day programs, unless an air-conditioned vehicle is used for transportation and the air conditioning at the workshop is operational.

Signed by:

Rebecca Sharp Porter
Chief Executive Director

Last Revised: 10/5/23

Table of Contents

Stay In Touch!

Never miss the latest news and updates from Open Door

You have Successfully Subscribed!