The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has declared the week of February 28 through March 6, 2010 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois. In recognition of this, the Springfield Weather Examiner will be running a special series this week on severe weather preparedness. To start this series, today’s article will cover making a safety plan for severe weather.
Due to its location, central Illinois is subject to many types of hazardous weather throughout the year, from blizzards and heavy snow in the winter to excessive heat in the summer and, of course, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the spring. While an emergency plan should include plans for all of these weather hazards, this article will focus on planning for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
Severe weather plans need to be made for all circumstances, including work, school, and any outdoor activities. Fortunately, many of these safety procedures are similar for any of these situations. The most important part of any plan is identifying locations of severe weather shelters. The safest place to be during a tornado or severe thunderstorm is a basement. However, many buildings in central Illinois do not have a basement available. If you are in a building like this, or there is not enough room in the basement for all occupants of the building, a small interior room away from windows, such as a bathroom in many buildings, is the safest place to go in the event of severe weather. In making a plan for outdoor activities, an emergency plan should also include procedures for getting to such areas of safety.
However, a severe weather safety plan should not stop after the storm ends. An effective severe weather plan should also have plans for what to do after the storm passes. All shelter areas should have an emergency kit with a first aid kit along with a cell phone to report medical emergencies and utility outages (as long as a gas leak is not expected), a battery operated radio or other device to receive an all clear after the storm has passed, and a battery operated flashlight or lantern in case power is lost. If a gas leak is suspected, leave the area as soon as it is safe to do so and call the utility company from a safe location. Stay away from downed power lines, as power may not have been cut to these lines.
It is the hope of the Springfield Weather Examiner that this information will be used by the people of central Illinois to stay safe in the upcoming storm season. For more information, please check the National Weather Service and Illinois Emergency Management Agency websites, or contact your local emergency manager.