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Severe weather preparation: A WTOL 11 Special Report

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(Toledo News Now) -

In 2008, in the town of Little Sioux , Iowa, four boy scouts were killed, forty eight others were injured after an EF-3 tornado rips through a camp site. 

Fast forward to 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma, an EF-5 tornado strikes Plaza Towers Elementary while in session, killing seven children.

Believe it or not, Ohio has the potential to see that kind of weather during the spring and summer months.

Storm Track Weather Meteorologist Ryan Wichman says, "We're certainly not immune to severe weather, in fact Northwest Ohio averages four tornados per year. The most susceptible time is in May, June and July."

Northwest Ohio has seen its share of tornados including the devastating Millbury tornado that hit back in June of 2010 in Wood County.  Wichman says, "It was a night we were well prepared for. We knew that severe weather was likely and tornadoes were possible.  I don't think anyone was prepared for the devastation we saw that evening."

It was that tornado that has caused so many families around the area to get prepared. But while many have a plan at home, what about when you're out?

During the summer months many kids spend their time in different programs and camps around the area. So we want to know, are local camps prepared?

I reached out to the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo who host many camps throughout summer.  Executive Director Steve Shives says the Y takes safety seriously and has written procedures that all staff is trained on.

Shives says "We gather all the kids up do a head count then proceed into the YMCA and then we all go into the inner locker rooms inside the building. They're the most inner rooms that we have all reinforced, then we sit, the kids sit down and we just wait."

While most camps are not required to submit a plan to the state the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo chooses to be proactive.  

Shives says it reviews all the procedures based on a review from the last season.

The YMCA/JCC has spent a great deal of time on planning for severe weather events, but I wanted to see what other plans were in place around the area.

I randomly chose three other local camps.  I asked each camp if it has a plan in place and if campers know about it.  I found not all were as prepared as others.

- Sunrise Gymnastics Academy in Toledo tells me quote "We have a plan, we don't practice it."

- Toledo Ballet says quote "We have it for the faculty... we don't give it to the kids."

- Stonehaven Farm Summer Camp in Temperance, MI tells me on the first morning of camp the riders are taught about safe places and there is a written plan that parents can have.

I also called the Ohio Attorney General's office to see if safety plans are required for camps. Officials at the Attorney General's office directed me to the Ohio Department of Education, who tells me only camps associated with schools would be required to have the same plan as the district.

If your child is at a camp with no practiced safety plan in place, it's important to talk with them about what to do.

Amanda Aldrich from the Red Cross has some safety tips. Aldrich say, "The best thing for you to do is to go to the lowest level of the facility and to a place that has no windows.  A bathroom with no windows is the second best option."

If you're kids are outside and don't have access to a building or vehicle, Aldrich says, "You want to get to a place that's lower than the level of the ground so a ditch or someplace like that where there is a slope."

Aldrich says, "The more prepared the places you're sending your children to are or the more prepared that you are as a family, you can feel more secure sending your child to a place where they know what to do in the event a disaster happens."

To see how prepared your business is during a disaster, sign up for the Red Cross free Ready Rating program.  Any organization can sign up online and take the quiz. 

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