DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Sunday marked the start of Ohio Severe Weather Awareness Week. The next seven days aim to draw attention to weather dangers and how to be prepared.

Severe weather can impact any time of year. Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Public Affairs Chief Sandy Mackey said there have already been eight tornadoes across the state of Ohio this year, some of those hit the Miami Valley.

“There are so many different severe weather events that can impact someone, and to know how to shelter from them and to know how to prepare for them is important,” Mackey said.

From flash flooding to lightning to tornadoes, Ohio’s spring Severe Weather Awareness Week acts as a reminder for what to do before, during and after a storm.

“Those hazards can also cause power outages, debris on the roadway, flooded roads and a host of other different issues, including injury and potentially death, so it’s very, very important to know what to do when severe weather strikes,” Mackey said.

Mackey said this week focuses on a number of topics to make sure Ohioans are weather aware. Ohioans are reminded to review or create shelter plans for tornadoes, learn what to do if you encounter flooding, and become familiar with the difference between a watch and a warning.

“The watch is to be prepared, that severe weather is potential, is there for that day, and you need to be paying attention to what’s going on,” Mackey said. “A warning is take action. If a warning is issued, that means that there is severe weather headed your way.”

People are also encouraged to build an emergency kit, an emergency plan and a communication plan for your home and vehicle. The kit should include items like nonperishable food, water, a flashlight, a battery-powered or crank radio, a first aid kit, and a list of important phone numbers.

“We all have them plugged into our phones, but if your phone dies and your power’s out and can’t charge your phone, you want to make sure you have these numbers written down,” Mackey said.

On Wednesday, March 22 at 9:50 a.m. many communities will participate in the statewide tornado drill. Ohioans are encouraged to practice tornado sheltering plans, whether at home, at work or at school.