Be prepared: Severe Weather

Illinois is notorious for bringing in Spring with a bang! Unfortunately, that bang usually consists of severe inclement weather. Do you have precautions and preparations in place to protect you and your family?

Tornado

Illinois on average experiences 50 or more tornadoes each year. This places Illinois sixth in the national ranking for the most tornadoes. Out of those 50 per year, Iroquois County averages about 2 per year. While the chances of being affected by a tornado may seem slim, statistically speaking you should always be prepared for the worst.

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Take time to make emergency kits including items like: flashlights, battery operated portable radio, bottled water, snacks, extra batteries, prescription medications, and a first aid kit.  Determine what area you will use for shelter in the event of a tornado.  Shelters should be interior rooms or hallway on the ground floor with no windows or outside walls. Practicing tornado drills in your home can make all the difference when getting to shelter safely and efficiently during an actual event. Keep a record of your property as well as all valuable documents in a secure place away from the property, like a safety deposit box.

Tornado Alerts:

Tornado Watch is an alert that the weather services use to indicate that the conditions in the area are suitable for a tornado. If a Tornado Watch is in affect for your area, you should prepare to relocate to your designated tornado shelter. If you are in a mobile home or vehicle, try to move to a stronger shelter. Listen closely to your local weather radio and stay alert for any updates on the conditions. If you see a funnel formation in the sky, report it immediately. Unless absolutely necessary or to get to shelter, it is recommended that you stay indoors.

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A Tornado Warning is more severe. This alert indicates that a funnel cloud or tornado has been reported in your area. If you are in a vehicle and see a funnel cloud, it is important not to try to outrun the tornado or try to “hide” under an overpass. Pull your vehicle over and lay flat in the nearest low lying area, like a ditch, with your hands protecting your head and neck. Mobile homes should be evacuated. If a stable structure is not available, retreat to the lowest lying area around; again, protecting your head and neck with your hands. For anyone indoors, it is important to move to your designated shelter area immediately!

Thunderstorms

Often people ignore severe thunderstorm warnings, with the assumption that major damage can only be caused by tornadoes.  While tornadoes do cause extensive damage in a short amount of time, severe thunderstorms and the dangers that accompany them are often just as damaging and life threatening as many tornadoes. A severe thunderstorm can produce heavy rains, high winds, and lightening. The can also be accompanied by tornadoes, hail, and flash flooding.

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Severe Thunderstorm Alerts:

Thunderstorms have a similar alert system as tornadoes. A Thunderstorm Watch is an alert to make you aware that the conditions are right for a severe thunderstorm. It is important to stay informed and prepared during this time. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning indicates that a a severe thunderstorm is approaching or occurring and you should seek shelter, especially if you are outside. It is important to stay away from windows, avoid using an electrical appliances, and delay taking baths and showers during a severe thunderstorm. When driving, pull over to the side of the road away from power lines and trees. Typically, a fully enclosed vehicle is enough to protect you from a lightening, hail and high winds during a thunderstorm. However, it is important to monitor the weather to be aware of any changes, like a tornado, that may make the vehicle unsafe.

 

Spring brings the joys of warmer weather and new beginnings, but it can also bring severe weather to wash away the winter. Make sure you are prepared this spring, no matter where you are!

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