Monday, June 09, 2008
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Preparedness is critical to surviving severe storms

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[June 09, 2008]  "Preparing for the hazards of severe thunderstorms and remaining alert for watches and warnings are the keys to staying safe when damaging wind, large hail, tornadoes and flooding threaten Illinois," said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

InsuranceMany survival stories that illustrated this point emerged after a series of deadly storms struck the southern United States on Feb. 5. "People at schools, shopping malls, businesses and homes survived the devastating storms on Feb. 5 because they were aware of the threat for severe weather and quickly went to a substantial shelter when warnings were issued," said Miller.

The state of Illinois experiences more than 40 tornadoes, 200 reports of large hail and more than 300 reports of severe wind or wind damage each year. The following information will help you stay safe from these inevitable forces of nature:


  • Develop a severe weather safety plan for use at home, in the workplace, at schools, in your vehicle and for outdoor activities.

    • In a home with a basement, take shelter under a sturdy table or workbench.

    • In homes without a basement, go to the lowest floor possible and seek shelter in an interior hallway, closet or bathroom without windows.

    • In mobile homes, seek shelter well before the storm approaches. Go to a sturdy building. Do not try to ride out the storm in a mobile home.

    • In the workplace, go to the designated storm shelters on the lowest floor possible. If your employer has not assigned storm shelters, or if you are not sure where they are, ask your company's safety manager.

    • In schools, the safest place to go is in an interior hallway on the lowest floor, away from windows and doors.

    • In your vehicle, if a tornado is bearing down on you, take shelter in a sturdy building. If no building is nearby, then lie flat in a ditch or ravine, and cover your head. Do not seek shelter under a bridge or highway overpass.

    • Outdoors, try to get into a sturdy building. If there is no building nearby, then lie flat in a ditch or low spot and cover your head.

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  • Know the terms related to tornadoes and severe storms.

    • A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of the thunderstorm cloud to the ground.

    • A severe thunderstorm can produce large hail, three-fourths inch in diameter or larger, and wind gusts around 60 mph or higher that can result in damage to trees, structures or power lines. Severe thunderstorm winds can be stronger, and produce more damage, than 70 percent of the tornadoes that affect Illinois.

    • A watch means that tornadoes or severe thunderstorms are possible and you need to watch the weather closely.

    • A warning means that a tornado or severe thunderstorm has been detected by radar or has been reported by a trained storm spotter. Seek safe shelter immediately if your location is in the path of the storm.


  • Have multiple sources at hand to monitor threatening weather conditions. It is critical to monitor watches, warnings and other storm information. A tone-alert weather radio is the most efficient way to do this. Most weather radios can be easily programmed, so you only receive the watches and warnings for your county, or any other nearby counties you choose.

  • Monitoring local television and radio stations that are participating members of the Emergency Alert System is another good way to keep abreast of approaching storms.

  • Don't just rely on outdoor warning sirens. They may not be heard indoors and may not wake you up. If you hear an outdoor warning siren, turn on your weather radio or other radio or TV station for more information.

For more information about being adequately prepared for severe weather, visit the National Weather Service in Lincoln "Severe Weather Safety" Web page at

[Text from file received from National Weather Service, Lincoln]


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