Ottawa County ‘Shelter in Place’ Drill – October 6th


Outdoor sirens: not just for tornados

Lou Hunt, Ottawa’s Emergency Management Director and the County’s ‘official storm chaser’ wants you to know that outdoor warning sirens are not just for tornadoes.

“It’s important that our citizens understand that the outdoor warning sirens can alert for many types of emergencies,” said Hunt. “If you hear the outdoor warning sirens, go inside and seek more information.”

The sirens are often used to alert residents of tornados or high winds, but they could also be used during a chemical hazard or nuclear threat. Sirens are intended to alert people who are outdoors (within about a mile of the sounding location) to seek shelter and further emergency instructions from TV, radio or media technology. The sirens are tested monthly from April through October.

‘Shelter in Place’ Drill

Just days after FEMA sent its own test wireless alert, Ottawa County is holding an emergency test of its own. This Friday, October 6, will be the last test of the outdoor warning siren for 2023. Emergency planners are urging residents to take a moment and simulate a real emergency on Friday. Officials are calling it a Shelter In Place Drill for a Chemical Emergency and here’s what you should do for the simulation:

  • Go inside and close doors and windows. For this drill, we are acting as though a poisonous vapor has been released into the air.
  • Shut down air conditioners, furnaces or fans. The goal is to keep outside air from entering inside.
  • Grab a role of duct tape and simulate taping window and door jams and covering vents.
  • In a real emergency, you would stay in your home or current location (called “shelter in place”) until a message reaches you that it is safe to resume activity.
  • If you cannot physically practice these steps, at least think about them.
  • If you are part of a business or organization, have you designated the responsible party for these steps? Can you discuss these steps with your team?

“In a technological world, a variety of chemicals travel our roads, rails and are even manufactured in Ottawa County. Having the capability to shelter in place during a chemical emergency is a something we need to be prepared for,” said Hunt.

Anyone who participates in the drill can provide feedback online.

For more information visit