preparedness for severe spring, summer weather
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Severe Weather Preparedness Week set for Feb.
29 - March 6
[FEB. 28, 2004]
Illinois experienced a record-setting 120 tornadoes in 2003,
resulting in two deaths, 81 injuries and more than $40 million in
damage. Even in a non-record-setting year, Illinoisans can expect an
average of 31 tornadoes, along with numerous thunderstorms, damaging
winds, hail and floods.
To help Illinois residents
prepare for severe storms, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency
and the National Weather Service will observe Severe Weather
Preparedness Week Feb. 29 through March 6.
"Spring brings a welcomed
reprieve from the winter's freezing temperatures, but it's important
that people be aware of severe weather hazards and know what to do
when a storm is approaching," said William C. Burke, director of the
Illinois Emergency Management Agency. "Now's the time to make sure
you understand what watches and warnings mean and have a plan of
action when warnings are issued."
As part of Severe Weather
Preparedness Week, individuals, schools and businesses are
encouraged to conduct tornado drills on Tuesday, March 2, at 10 a.m.
Burke said the drills will help ensure that families, students and
employees know what to do if a tornado warning is issued.
Illinois Emergency Management
Agency and the National Weather Service recommend that people have a
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio with a
battery backup and tone-alert feature. The NOAA radio issues
automatic alerts when a watch or warning is issued. Because the
National Weather Service uses county names when watches and warnings
are issued, it's important to know the county or counties in which
you live and work.
Spring and summer are the prime
time for severe thunderstorms, which can produce tornadoes, damaging
winds, lightning, hail or heavy rain.
Each year, more people are
killed by lighting than tornadoes in the United States, with most
deaths occurring in open fields, such as ball fields, and under or
near trees. If you are outdoors when lightning begins, you should
seek shelter immediately. A safe rule of thumb to follow is that if
you can hear thunder, you are probably close enough to the storm to
be struck by lightning. In the house, you should avoid taking baths
or showers or using the telephone or other electrical appliances
until after the storm passes.
While a basement or cellar
usually offers the best protection during a tornado, an interior
room or hallway without windows on the lowest level of the building
can also provide protection. People who are in schools, office
buildings and other public structures during a tornado should go to
the lowest level of the building, avoiding places with wide-span
roofs, such as auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums and large
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Residents of mobile homes
should identify a safe shelter outside the mobile home, such as a
community park shelter, a friend's house or a nearby public
building, where they can go when tornado warnings are issued. A
mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been
taken to tie down the unit. If there isn't a substantial shelter
nearby, mobile home residents should seek shelter in a low-lying
area and shield their heads with their hands.
Flooding often follows severe
storms and is the No. 1 severe weather killer nationwide. While some
floods take hours to days to develop, the most dangerous type of
flooding -- flash flooding -- develops rapidly and can sweep away
everyone and everything in its path. Many flood-related deaths occur
in vehicles on flooded roads, while others occur when people or
child venture into floodwaters to play or protect their property.
When flooding occurs, people
should listen to the radio for information from local emergency
personnel, including instructions to turn off utilities at their
source or to evacuate. When evacuation is advised, people should do
so quickly because evacuation is much easier and safer before
floodwaters become too deep for ordinary vehicles to drive through.
Evacuees should follow recommended evacuation routes, as short cuts
may be flooded and as little as 2 feet of water can carry away most
help the public learn more about how to prepare for severe weather,
Illinois Emergency Management Agency developed a
Storm Preparedness Guide," which is available at
www.state.il.us/iema or by
calling (217) 785-0229.
[To download the Adobe Acrobat
reader for the guide, click here.]
The preparedness guide includes information on weather terms, how to
keep yourself and your family safe when a storm approaches, and what
actions to take following a severe storm, tornado or flood.
Emergency Management Agency