Seasonal siren test to prepare for chemical spills

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – Another sign that summer is over will take place on Friday with the last outdoor war siren test of the year.

In Ottawa County, officials want you to think beyond the weather when you hear the sirens.

“Think of a chemical emergency and what you would do in that situation,” said Lou Hunt, Ottawa County Emergency Manager.

It is part of a larger public education campaign by Ottawa County Emergency Management to prepare people for dangerous chemical situations like those experienced in Zeeland in August 2021.

A Leak at Vertellus Chemical in Zeeland resulted in emergency shelter for some nearby neighbors. On Thursday, company officials told News 8 they had taken steps to ensure something like this didn’t happen again.

But they’re not the only chemical producers in Ottawa County.

“We have chemicals that are made in our county. Many of them on our roads and rails. We have many agricultural and food processing industries in Ottawa County that use a lot of anhydrous ammonia as well as other chemicals,” Hunt said. “It may or may not be visible. And it will depend largely on how quickly that spreads. Could be wind direction, could be wind speed. … We know that in this situation there is very little time and we need people who know what to do.”

The first thing people should do is find out what emergency set off the sirens by checking with local media.

Telling people what to do when the sirens wail for a chemical emergency is one thing. Showing you 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 County website.

Things you should do include moving into an indoor space, closing doors and windows, turning off air conditioners, stoves, and other ventilation systems, and sealing window and door jams.

“We want people to either come up with a plan and know what they’re going to do in that situation, or actually put it into practice,” Hunt said. Seasonal siren test to prepare for chemical spills

Dais Johnston

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