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Storms and Flooding

The most common types of natural hazards affecting Ohio are floods, tornadoes and severe winter storms. Even large windstorms from the remnants of hurricanes have been known to cause tremendous damage.

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness  provides information to Ohioans to assist in raising public awareness and to aid in the reduction of the impact severe weather can inflict on lives and property throughout the state.


Ohio tornado activity varies each year, averaging about 16 tornadoes annually. Thirty-nine tornadoes were reported in Ohio in 2010. Most were EF0 or EF1 with winds up to 100 mph, but there was one major tornado in Millbury near Toledo – an EF4 – with winds up to 175 mph that killed six people and caused numerous injuries.

Click here to read the new tornado safety standards from National Weather Service and the Red Cross. 


Flood waters can be extremely dangerous. The force of six inches of swiftly moving water can knock an adult person off his or her feet. Just two feet of moving water can float and carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks.

Click here to learn more about staying healthy when flood water enters your neighborhood or home.

Power Outages 

Food Safety
While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Add block ice or dry ice to your refrigerator if the electricity is expected to be off longer than 4 hours. Wear heavy gloves when handling ice.

  • Identify and throw away food that may not be safe to eat
  • Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
  • Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.
  • Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
  • Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been above 40°F for 2 hours or more. Thawed food that contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below can be refrozen or cooked.
  • If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (240 milliliters) of bleach in 5 gallons of water.
  • Relabel the cans with a marker.

For more information, see CDC’s information on Keeping Food and Water Safe after a Natural Disaster or Power Outage and Preventing Illness after a Natural Disaster

Water Safety
If you are on a public water system, tune into local radio and TV stations to see if you are under a boil alert.

Electrical power outages may affect the operation of your private home water or sewage treatment system. Learn what to do if you have a private water system or sewage treatment system.

Generator Safety
While a generator can provide an alternative source of power when the electricity goes out, it can also become a dangerous source of Carbon Monoxide.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.  A single gas-powered generator can produce as much as 100 times more poisonous Carbon Monoxide gas than a car’s exhaust according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

How can I generate power safely or cook when the electricity is out?

  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage.
  • Operate generators outdoors as far away from your house as possible. The National Institute of Standards and Technology reports that even 15 feet away may still be dangerous because the CO fumes can enter the home through windows, doors or vents. Tests are still being conducted to find a safe operating distance.
  • Never refuel a generator while it is running or hot.
  • Install CO detectors inside the home near all the sleeping areas.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill indoors. Using a grill indoors will cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper unless you use it inside a vented fireplace.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal — red, gray, black, or white — gives off CO.
  • Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.

Page Reviewed: 12/28/2015