OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Another sign that summer has come to end will happen Friday, with the last outdoor waring siren test of the year.
In Ottawa County, officials want you to think beyond the weather when you hear the sirens.
“Think chemical emergency and what you would do in that situation,” Ottawa County Emergency Manager Lou Hunt said.
It’s part of a larger public education push by Ottawa County Emergency Management to prepare people for hazardous chemical situations, like the one that occurred in August of 2021 in Zeeland.
A leak at Vertellus Chemical in Zeeland resulted in a shelter in place order for some nearby neighbors. On Thursday, company officials told News 8 they have taken steps to make sure it won’t happen again.
But they are not the only chemical producers in Ottawa County.
“We have chemicals that are made in our county. A lot of them on our roads and our rails. We have a lot of agriculture and food processing industry in Ottawa County that use a lot of anhydrous ammonia and other chemical too,” Hunt said. “It may or may not be visible. And it’s going to be largely dependent on how fast that spreads. Could be wind direction, could be wind speed. … We know that in that situation, there’s going to be very little time and we need people to know what to do.”
The first thing people should do is figure out exactly what emergency set off the sirens by checking with local media sources.
Telling people what to do when the sirens sound for a chemical emergency is one thing. Showing them what to do is another.
Videos on what to do during a chemical emergency in homes schools, homes and businesses have been added to the emergency management section of the county website.
The things you should do include moving to an interior room, shutting doors and window, turning off air conditioners, furnaces and any other air handling systems, and sealing off windows and door jams.
“What we want people to do is either develop a plan and know what they’re going to do in that situation or actually practice it,” Hunt said.